This week it is now confirmed that the FCC is actually investigating Comcast’s practice of interfering with BitTorrent peer-to-peer traffic, and possibly other P2P internet traffic. From has been found so far, Comcast isn’t merely blocking this traffic, but actually posing as its customers’ computers to fool other BitTorrent peers into thinking their customers’ computers are not responding.
On top of that, the FCC has also opened up two proceedings soliciting public comment on Comcast’s BitTorrent interference and clarifying on just what types of “network management” are permissible under the FCC’s network neutrality principles.
The Media Access Project’s Howard Feld has posted a pretty exhaustive analysis of what is known so far about the FCC’s plans. By starting both an enforcement inquiry and a proceeding for declaratory ruling Feld thinks Chairman Kevin Martin is keeping his options open for dealing with the issue in the face of possible opposition from his fellow Republican Commissioners. Any findings from the Enforcement Bureau might make things less politically volatile if the evidence looks bad. Of course, there’s more to Feld’s analysis than that. But, in essence, Feld is feeling “cautiously optimistic” that there will be some outcome in the direction of the public interest.
On his blog Matthew Lasar has started to compile some of the public comments already being filed with the FCC.
I’m glad to see this get investigated, because it’s too important to be swept under the rug. The FCC’s enforcement is flawed and politically vulnerable. Yet, it’s what we have and Comcast’s abuse of its customers’ internet traffice must be dealt with.