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FCC Considers Taking Action Against Comcast

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the considering-a-crack-down dept.

Government 181

Presto Vivace writes "According to CNet the Federal Communications Commission is considering taking action against cable operator Comcast modifying peer-to-peer traffic, a subject we've discussed here in the past. 'It looks like Chairman Martin, and by extension the commission, sees Comcast as going beyond simply managing its network. But even if the FCC decides that Comcast has violated Net neutrality principles, it's unclear what the agency can actually do to Comcast. The principles are not agency regulation.'"

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Government Controls Not Working!!! (5, Insightful)

PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718112)

When big business (or advocacy groups) can abuse consumers and no one intervenes until there is a problem (even when it is illegal, or wrong), and there is NO punishment for doing so ... why would they conform?

Re:Government Controls Not Working!!! (1)

iago-vL (760581) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718528)

Well, in an ideal world, they'd end up with no customers. Of course, this world is far from ideal...

Local Monopolies (5, Insightful)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718616)

Well, in an ideal world, they'd end up with no customers.

Yes! But, unfortunately, their lobbyists got the politicians to give them local monopolies. So, therefore, they won't lose customers unless their customers are willing to do without.

Re:Local Monopolies (1)

Alexandra Erenhart (880036) | more than 6 years ago | (#22720210)

That I don't understand. I live in a country where connections are slow, and the quality isn't the best, but at least we can choose between 2-4 ISPs depending where you live. I would only assume that in a big country like the US, it should only be better, but seems like you guys/gals are stuck with what your zone's ISP is. That kind of monopoly should be fought just like any other, why is still that way?

Re:Local Monopolies (1)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22720294)

Comcast can pay officials way more than we can. "We" being people who can tell the difference, and care.

Re:Local Monopolies (3, Insightful)

utopianfiat (774016) | more than 6 years ago | (#22720984)

Well, you have to understand the kind of civil religion that came about in the US during and after the Soviet Union- a lot of people in the states see the free market as the Holy Ghost, Milton Friedman as Jesus Christ, and Ayn Rand as the One True God.
And if you contradict that with "socialist ideas" (including but not limited to Keynesian economics, trustbusting, welfare, and civil projects), prepare to be derided as one who will "tax the country into poverty".
I'm not kidding.

Re:Local Monopolies (1)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 6 years ago | (#22721504)

Free Market => Holy Ghost yep

but, I'd suggest:
Ayn Rand was Jesus, and Milton Friedman is Peter, upon whom The Church was built at the University of Chicago School of Economics.

Re:Local Monopolies (1)

tattood (855883) | more than 6 years ago | (#22721028)

It isn't really a monopoly. Yes, they have the right to be the cable provider for a particular area, but that is not a monopoly for Internet and television service.

You don't like Comcast cable Internet? Switch to DSL or wireless(if it's available).
You don't like Comcast cable television? Switch to Satellite.

I do believe, however, that Cable companies should not be able to be the exclusive provider for cable access for any area.

Re:Government Controls Not Working!!! (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 6 years ago | (#22719856)

Plus, attempts at trying to move this world more towards the ideal will get you called a dirty liberal. Seems the powers that be have a convenient fiction of an already-just world that they'd like to maintain. If you demonstrate that good people don't often get rich by merely working hard and doing all the right things that puts a serious hole in their world view.

Government controls are not the answer (1)

sysopd (617656) | more than 6 years ago | (#22720758)

The proper place for this is in the courts. If Comcast violates its customer contract, they should be sued. Believe me there are more than enough trial lawyers out there that will pay for this themselves on the hope of future earnings. Its their network and whether or not you and I believe net neutrality is moral, right, wrong, legal or illegal, they have the right to control, patrol, fuck with, etc, their own network to the extent that they don't violate their contracts or the law. There are no net neutrality laws AFAIK, and I personally think giving the government ANY regulation powers or control of the internet is a horrible idea. If Comcast continues to limit availability of certain protocols then competing ISPs and community sponsored networks will fill the void. This has already happened in many areas.

I think a good analogy is if your bank limited how many ATM transactions you could have in a month and you didn't like it. You could try and pass a law to make the bank give you more or unlimited transactions. Or you could join a community bank such as a credit union with like-minded people and set the policy to allow unlimited transactions. If enough people agree with you they'll switch to the credit union. After the bank lost a significant number of customers they might remove the limit as well. Now if the bank had agreed NOT to limit transactions when you signed up, then you could sue the bank for violating their contract.

Regarding the FCC... The FCC has no authority in this domain (nor in most other) and is not even a legitimate agency under the US Constitution. Their only power with even a tenuous link to legitimacy is controlling radio frequency distribution and protecting property rights claims on said frequencies. Their content-control and fines are contrary to freedom and they should be completely dispanded or at least radically shrunk in size and scope.

Re:Government controls are not the answer (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 6 years ago | (#22721328)

Regarding the FCC... The FCC has no authority in this domain

Yeah, I'd suppose that the FTC would be more appropriate. That said, this is a perfect place for the feds to stomp on Comcast. I know, contracts are holy writ, but sometimes it makes more sense just to pass a law.

Crappy Infrastructure != Abusing Customers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22721330)

Comcast has a crappy network infrastructure, so they NEED these controls in place to stay afloat; think of them has having an antiquated "hub" network rather than say something more modern like a "switched" network.

My Comcast bittorrents good (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22718132)

I don't get what all of the noise is about. My comcast bittorrents fine as long as i leave it on port 80 or 443

Probably Nothing (1)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718148)

But even if the FCC decides that Comcast has violated Net neutrality principles, it's unclear what the agency can actually do to Comcast
Run to the end of their chain and bark? If they fine the company all they'll be doing is a fine against the customer that where being hurt by Comcast to begin with. Seems like this dog has no teeth. Maybe it was all just for show for the media...

Pull "common carrier" status (4, Interesting)

AJWM (19027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718668)

But even if the FCC decides that Comcast has violated Net neutrality principles, it's unclear what the agency can actually do to Comcast

If Comcast is messing with the content going over their cables, then they should no longer be allowed common carrier immunity for that content. This makes them liable for every bit of pirated media, kiddy porn, libel and spam sent over those cables.

A few lawsuits ought to wake them up, I'm sure Comcast has pockets deep enough to attract a few contingency lawyers.

Re:Pull "common carrier" status (2)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718954)

then they should no longer be allowed common carrier immunity for that content.
I didn't think cable companies had common carrier

Re:Pull "common carrier" status (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22719194)

parent is correct. mod up.

Re:Pull "common carrier" status (5, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#22719282)

I didn't think cable companies had common carrier

As a cable provider, they don't. As an internet and phone provider, they do.

It's all about control. Cable companies have control over their content and thus can be held liable for their content. Internet and phone providers, however, do NOT have control over the data that passes over their wires. Thus they cannot be reasonably expected to be held accountable for that data. Unless they demonstrate that they are actively attempting to control the content. Then the legal veil is pierced and the common carrier status is lost.

Re:Probably Nothing (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 6 years ago | (#22719268)

and sometimes the dog learns to run not quite at the end of his chain and just knows sooner or later his tormentor is going to stray in a little too close; that's when we find out if the dog really has teeth.

Re:Probably Nothing (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#22719584)

Right. They don't need to fine them and they don't need to take away any status that they have or don't have. They need to call an end to Comcast and declare that they cannot do business any longer. Then put the little crackers in jail for tampering with thier customer's networks. Why is it that Crackers get so much immunity if they are working for a company?

How about another action... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22718152)

How about taking another action against comcast for being a monopoly to those that have absolutely no alternatives because of where they live.

Take their license away? (4, Insightful)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718162)

Answering the question "what can the FCC do": I would assume that they could take their license away, as the final threat.

I don't think the Comcast situation has much to do with net neutrality. Lack of "net neutrality" would mean that a service provider slows down some traffic and not other traffic. So your bittorrent might take 12 hours instead of 1, but work without problems. But that is not what Comcast does: They actively manipulate the traffic that goes through their system, sending fake abort messages to bittorrent clients. That, I think, could be very much in violation of whatever license they need.

If I sent you a letter and it arrived in five days instead of one day, I would complain. If the post office deliberately threw away my letters, I would complain a lot louder.

Re:Take their license away? (5, Insightful)

qortra (591818) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718310)

sending fake abort messages to bittorrent clients.

If the post office deliberately threw away my letters, I would complain a lot louder.
Given your description of what is going on, your metaphor is not apt. A better one:

The post office deliberately sends a soldier fake dear john letters [wikipedia.org] , merely because they believe that soldier's girlfriend to be unscrupulous, or because they have grown tired of mailing that soldier's letters to his girlfriend.

Other than that minor point, I agree entirely.

Re:Take their license away? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22718456)

Your metaphor for using fake packets to delay bittorrent traffic is extremely poor in any case, so much as to be completely mindbogglingly idiotic.

Re:Take their license away? (3, Insightful)

howdoesth (1132949) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718650)

The mindboggling thing is that his metaphor is far and away the best description of sandvining I have ever seen. The fact that you find it so unbelievable shows just how ridiculous what Comcast is doing really is.

Re:Take their license away? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22718976)

The fact that you find it extremely appropriate just shows that you are a computer geek.

Let's say the IRS used a database algorithm that meant that people from Alaska had to wait several minutes less than people from Wyoming to submit tax returns online. A proper metaphor for this would not be that it is just like being placed in a forced labour camp and if you are Colombian you get a single room and a six hour day while if you are Venezuelan you get to sleep in shit and die.

Re:Take their license away? (5, Insightful)

glindsey (73730) | more than 6 years ago | (#22720414)

Then how about this: the phone company decides to disconnect your line because although they advertise that their customers can talk for an unlimited amount of time, they think you're just talking way too much, possibly about something they deem inappropriate. You can call right back and continue talking, but they'll keep periodically disconnecting you. When you complain about this to the phone company, they claim that they aren't stopping you from having your conversation; they're just slowing it down a lot in order to manage the number of phone calls on their lines.

Is that a bit more appropriate to you? It's still grossly unacceptable.

Re:Take their license away? (5, Funny)

snowraver1 (1052510) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718800)

Nope, try this example:

Comcast is like a car, er wait, truck, no... HUMMER and you are behind them in traffic, but you drive a Pinto. All you can smell is the diesel exaust from the Hummer. Then the driver of the hummer gets out and kicks you in the face, but there is a dear john letter stuck to his boot, that is now stuck to your face. You can't see where you are going, so you go home, but when you get there your cat is hanging from the celing with a puddle of water on the ground. There is no evidence of struggle, so obvously your cat committed suicide by standing on a large block of ice and slowly hanging itself. You look at your cable modem and the "sync" light is slowly blinking... no internet. Damn! screwed by Comcast again!

Re:Take their license away? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 6 years ago | (#22719292)

Wow, that exact thing happened to me yesterday. Were you the driver in the Hummer by any chance?

Re:Take their license away? (1)

Drooling Iguana (61479) | more than 6 years ago | (#22720656)

At night, the ice weasels come.

Re:Take their license away? (1)

funaho (42567) | more than 6 years ago | (#22721492)

Man you need to lay off the 'shrooms. ;-)

Re:Take their license away? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22718340)

If I sent you a letter and it arrived in five days instead of one day, I would complain. If the post office deliberately threw away my letters, I would complain a lot louder.

You're analogy is poor, because dropping packets when a network is busy is part of the standard. Also, you failed to capture the fact that the rest packets are forged. The finally problem with you analogy is that it didn't mention cars.

Re:Take their license away? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22718458)

The finally problem with you analogy is that it didn't mention cars.
Or Soviet Russia. Because, in Soviet Russia, the packets drop you.

Re:Take their license away? (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718680)

When it comes to internet analogies, you must use either "tubes", "trucks" or "clowns [spamcop.net] " - not cars.

=Smidge=

Re:Take their license away? (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 6 years ago | (#22720450)

You're analogy is poor, because dropping packets when a network is busy is part of the standard. Also, you failed to capture the fact that the rest packets are forged. The finally problem with you analogy is that it didn't mention cars.
You are looking at this at the wrong level. The individual packets are not the letters. The complete file transfer equals the letter. If a few packets are dropped, even if a few percent of all packets are deliberately dropped, then the protocol copes with it by resending the packets (that would be an analogy to the postman missing a few letters before he starts his round; they will be delivered on the next day). The single forged packed makes sure that the complete file transfer doesn't happen, which is the same as throwing the letter away.

Re:Take their license away? (3, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718600)

I would think that a really effective threat would be to take away their "common carrier" status and make Comcast legally responsible for all the traffic going through their network. For instance, since they actively manipulate their traffic, it can be argued they could stop all child pornography, copyrighted material, etc from traversing their network, and since they failed to do so they are liable for its distribution.

Re:Take their license away? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22718652)

I would think that a really effective threat would be to take away their "common carrier" status

ISPs are not and never have been "common carriers".

Re:Take their license away? (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#22719346)

ISPs are not and never have been "common carriers".
You sure about that? [wikipedia.org] Some of us have actually sat down and read the laws we are bound by. :-/

Re:Take their license away? (1)

qortra (591818) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718776)

That seems like a terrible idea. Honestly, they might just like that scenario. It would give them an excuse to turn their service into an AOL-like "portal" where you get Comcast news, Comcast voip, Comcast search, and if they're really in a bad mood, one single Comcast political candidate. Portals have become passé, but they really are a crap-ton more profitable. Imagine not only getting ISP monthly fees, but also all the ad revenue from a subscribers account, email bounties (selling your address down the river), and exclusive distribution for other "pay" services like voip and online games. All this added to the the fact that they can now effectively brainwash you to believe whatever they want because they control your information.

Re:Take their license away? (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 6 years ago | (#22719926)

If they do that, they can't truthfully advertise themselves as an "Internet Service Provider", which should put a nice big dent in their business and possibly throw a wrench into their monopoly deals in the markets where people can't easily switch to DSL or other broadband providers. Plus the portal thing isn't as profitable as it might look: Just ask AOL. The Internet tends to view attempts to filter content as damage and routes around it, as the old saying goes.

And I don't buy that your ISP completely controls the information you see. Even if we take as given that they can control the entirety of what's visible to you over the Internet, they don't control your local NPR station or your local paper, and they definitely don't control what your friends and neighbors can say to you. Take off your tinfoil hat.

Re:Take their license away? (3, Informative)

compro01 (777531) | more than 6 years ago | (#22719466)

cable companies have never been common carriers as far as internet service goes. DSL providers used to be, but aren't anymore.

what would be the proper course of action would be to remove their DMCA safe harbour status, which would render them liable for any copyrighted material moving through them [that occurs without the right holder's permission].

Re:Take their license away? (3, Insightful)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718642)

Taking their license away would potentially hurt the customers even more. The solution is much simpler - money. Fine them, and keep raising the fines until it becomes more cost effective for Comcast to behave. Money is a fantastic motivator.

I don't know if the FCC has the authority and/or the will to take such an action, however.

Re:Take their license away? (3, Insightful)

Phisbut (761268) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718920)

Taking their license away would potentially hurt the customers even more. The solution is much simpler - money. Fine them, and keep raising the fines until it becomes more cost effective for Comcast to behave. Money is a fantastic motivator.

Won't Comcast then just increase the price of their service to cover the fines? Their customers can't change ISP to get a better now because they lack choice, they won't be able to change ISP to get a lower price then either.

Re:Take their license away? (1)

OldeTimeGeek (725417) | more than 6 years ago | (#22719002)

Taking their license away would potentially hurt the customers even more. The solution is much simpler - money. Fine them, and keep raising the fines until it becomes more cost effective for Comcast to behave.

Which Comcast will turn around and pass on to their customers. Either way, Comcast customers are pretty much screwed. Comcast knows this and so does the FCC.

Dissolving the company and selling their (1)

crovira (10242) | more than 6 years ago | (#22719582)

assets to somebody else would take care of that problem.

There would be NO ComCast bills passing on the cost because there would be NO MORE ComCast.

It is perfectly ethical to TERMINATE ComCast when they do something illegal.
(They're NOT a living being. You can't kill them. But you can dissolve them.)

Imagine how delighted one of their current competitors would be at picking up their assets and their customers at fire sale prices.

Re:Dissolving the company and selling their (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 6 years ago | (#22720234)

Better would be to auction off a bunch of spectrum and block all current last mile providers from participating and banning them from acquiring the company that wins the auction. Imagine having a fully independent third provider for last mile service, I do and my bill is significantly lower because of it (in my case it's an overlay cable provider but a national player would be nice). Simply selling their assets to a current "competitor" does nothing to help the consumer/citizen, it only fattens the wallet of the acquiring company.

Re:Take their license away? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22721474)

O RLY?

What makes you think that they would eat those costs in lieu of passing them on to the customers?

What about a fine? (1)

evil agent (918566) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718698)

Can the FCC fine Comcast? I look forward to them passing down the losses to me. :(

Re:Take their license away? (1)

hax0r_this (1073148) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718758)

Are you suggesting that the government should be allowed to punish people (or businesses) because what they did was "wrong" even though its not against any rule? Or are saying there is actually some rule against this, and you are simply not referencing it?

Don't get me wrong, I think Comcast needs to stop, and if they violated any actual regulations I hope they are punished for it, but if they didn't actually break any rules then what that means is not that they should be punished anyway, but that the rules need to be fixed.

Re:Take their license away? (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#22719838)

Or are saying there is actually some rule against this, and you are simply not referencing it?

Bingo. From section 512(a) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act:

A service provider shall not be liable for monetary relief, or except as provided in subsection (i) for injunctive or other equitable relief, for infringement for the provider's transmitting, routing, or providing connections for, material through a system or network controlled or operated by or for the service provider, or the intermediate and transient storage of such material in the course of such transmitting, routing or providing connections, if--

  `(2) it is carried out through an automatic technical process without selection of such material by the service provider;

  `(5) the material is transmitted without modification to its content.

Forging packets would be considered modification to the content, and thus pierce the Common Carrier Status that the DMCA provides. Which means that Comcast may well have shot themselves in 'zee tootsies.

Re:Take their license away? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22719302)

If the post office deliberately threw away my letters, I would complain a lot louder.
So, all those letters to santa at the north pole...? So that's why I never got a red bike. Writing the address in crayon probably didn't help.

Hmm, I guess he has an email address now. (santa@northpole.com, santa@northpole.net)
HoHoHo

Re:Take their license away? (2, Interesting)

AnomaliesAndrew (908394) | more than 6 years ago | (#22719440)

I've posted about this before, but whenever we run a Bit Torrent client for the better half of a day, our route to the internet gets lost. Everything still says we're connected and says the status is fine, we just can't get anywhere until we power-cycle the cable modem.

Additionally I am a Vonage customer, and would be unable to place a 911 call because of this. It's just plain irresponsible corporate greed, seems to me.

This happens even when Bit Torrent traffic is at a minimum. It's like Comcast is taking the RIAA/MPAA's dirty work into their own hands, and saying it's to make sure bandwidth use is fair for all customers.

I wonder then why I've never been disconnected like this for using the bandwidth for any other purposes, like hosting a radio stream or FTP server with equal or more traffic.

I would boycott them if only I had other realistic options, but I don't.

Go After Individual Management Executives (1)

monxrtr (1105563) | more than 6 years ago | (#22719822)

You threaten the CEO, the CFO, the CIO, et al, with charges of fraud under Sarbanes-Oxley. See WorldCom. See Enron. Back up the truck with all the motions and charges copies + pasted to Comcast executives. If the FCC cannot handle this itself, then forward on to the Department of Justice. Also notify the GAO, Congressional Committees and Subcomittees that the FCC is incapable of performing their duties, and recommend dissolving of the FCC and/or firing of the members of the FCC. The FCC can get a written statement signed by the CEO that Comcast will not in the future discriminate against arbitrary file types or traffic and settle now for a paltry $1 million fine, without admitting or denying guilt. If Comcast refuse, onward to swearing in the executives under oath, and investigating them the same way Major League Baseball steroids were just investigated.

This currently need not to be any more than a warning shot across the bow of the Comcast, as long as in exchange you put into the record the intent of Comcast not to discriminate against traffic and file types in the future, such as fake packets terminating P2P connections. If they refuse, gather testimony from businesses who have data which may be effected by Comcast abuse, such as from Vonage.

This would be a win for the FCC, making them look good (and let's face it, they desperately need some good PR), a win for consumers, and a win for businesses which compete against Comcast. A 3-2 vote to draft the settlement letter is of sufficient political expedience.

Verizon (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22718168)

I guess the check cleared.

Don't hold your breath (5, Informative)

RingDev (879105) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718188)

While I am hopeful that the FCC does act, I have about 0 faith in Kevin Martin.

Kevin Martin was an aide to Bush/Cheney in the 2000 election, he worked the Florida recount, he was coat tailed in as an aide in the transition from Clinton, was appointed to an advisory position once Bush took office, his wife was given a job as one of Cheney's aides, and since late 2007 he has been under investigation by Congress for abuse of power, and working to reduce the effective power of the FCC.

-Rick

Re:Don't hold your breath (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22719126)

Also fun, read into his actions concerning the telcos in the past 8 years as opposed to the cablecos.

Interesting contrast there.

Re:Don't hold your breath (1)

nitebriar (1240086) | more than 6 years ago | (#22719366)

This is an invalid point. The FCC can only regulate communications in relation to the laws. Currently there aren't any real laws that the FCC can use to put against Comcast in net neutrality (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_neutrality_in_the_United_States [wikipedia.org] ). If there was a law and Kevin Martin violated it then you would have reason for concern. If you look most of the laws posed do not relate provide net neutrality to illegal content. A good amount of content over a Bittorent is illegal according to the DCMA, which Bill Clinton signed into law. This is the same law that has given more power to the RIAA which in return is putting pressure on Comcast to behave how it is. So before pointing fingers at any single person, a good understanding of all the factors involved is needed. Without the DCMA ever being passed this issue with Comcast may never have come up.

Laws are not needed. (1, Interesting)

RingDev (879105) | more than 6 years ago | (#22720028)

The FCC can issue regulations with out the existence of precise laws to back them up. For instance, there is no law (at least not that I am aware of) that specifically states that the words shit, fuck, cunt, tits, motherfucker, and cocksucker are barred from use in public broadcast, yet the FCC can yank your license for saying them. Yet pussy, twat, turd tapper, asshole, etc... are acceptable.

If Comcast is a common carrier, it is by definition serving the general public under the license and limitations of the FCC. The FCC can regulate them how ever they want. Hell, they could make 'Hawaiian Shirt Friday' a mandatory event for any organization that wishes to remain licensed as a common carrier.

The FCC's power is a bit like patents. It is only as strong as the lawsuit that would ensue. While most proactive leaders would use their power to push the boundaries of regulatory power forward, the regulatory powers under Bush's watch have largely abandoned their powers. Heck, it took a lawsuit from MA just to make the EPA to regulate green house gases in exhaust from cars.

So if someone sues the FCC, or any government regulatory body, the can use existing laws to force the body to change the regulations. They can lobby congress to pass laws that change the body's ability to regulate. But the specific regulations are up to the regulatory body.

-Rick

Re:Don't hold your breath (1)

jimrob (1092327) | more than 6 years ago | (#22721260)

While I am hopeful that the FCC does act, I have about 0 faith in Kevin Martin.

Kevin Martin was an aide to Bush/Cheney in the 2000 election, he worked the Florida recount, he was coat tailed in as an aide in the transition from Clinton, was appointed to an advisory position once Bush took office, his wife was given a job as one of Cheney's aides, and since late 2007 he has been under investigation by Congress for abuse of power, and working to reduce the effective power of the FCC.
So what you're saying is that you don't trust the guy because he works with a political team you apparently don't agree with, and the opposing party is investigating him because they don't like him either.

And now the screaming and yelling starts (2)

pitchpipe (708843) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718204)

... because the telecomm lobbyist have mucho congresscritters in their pockets.

It definitely seems that the volume of calls from **elected officials** for the restructuring of the FCC is directly proportional to the FCC's attempts to reign in non-neutral networking practices.

Comcast is safe... (4, Insightful)

OglinTatas (710589) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718276)

As long as they don't flash a nipple on TV, the FCC won't do anything. It's like Ed Meese or John Ashcroft work there.

Jon Katz (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22718338)


Where is Jon Katz?

First Communist Party Post.

Defeat the Two-Party System: Vote Communist

Thanks for your PatRIOTism.

Sincerely,
K. Trout

Same old story (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22718348)

Comcast's unregulated near-monopoly sees those who use its services as mere resources, a means to an end, $$ on the balance sheet. They're not regarded as "customers" in any sense of the term (though the company must--of course--keep up appearances, and keep enough of annoying masses happy enough to keep a positive cash flow). Comcast's real customers are the shareholders.

Penalty phase (4, Funny)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718382)

Excerpt from ruling......

Bad Comcast, Bad Comcast, Bad.

We're sorry we had to be so harsh.

Re:Penalty phase (1)

Zak3056 (69287) | more than 6 years ago | (#22720352)

Bad Comcast, Bad Comcast, Bad.

If you think the FCC will go that easy on Comcast, you're mistaken. It will be "Bad Comcast! Bad Comcast! Bad!" The exclamation points are critical. :)

Anyone remember Michael Powell? (3, Interesting)

gelfling (6534) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718442)

The prior FCC's head. He said once, to the news, and I quote "I literally have no idea what the public interest is." unquote.

That pretty much sums up the FCC. So don't hold your breath, the FCC is there to mouth words that the the religious right wants to hear and to support the oligopolies that keep American telcom mired 10-15 years in the past.

Re:Anyone remember Michael Powell? (1)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 6 years ago | (#22719596)

Well, since Kevin Martin has said "The public interest is not what any company wants," [arstechnica.com] maybe FCC heads are getting progressively closer to the truth :-)

Maybe the next chairman of the FCC can learn from these two, and say something just as eloquent, like "The public interest is what the public wants... but I don't know what the public wants."

A Comcast customer (2)

betamaxV2.1 (609267) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718446)

I am a comcast customer (fortunately or unfortunately, take your pick). On the island where I live they are the only broadband internet provider. I haven't had any problems with speed or connectivity when using torrents and I will admit that while I do leave several legal torrents open at night and on the weekends there are those that are not so legal from time to time. I routinely can grab a CD's worth of data in an hour or two without any problems. Last night before going to bed I queued up over 4 GB worth of downloads and they were all finished by the time I got up 6 hours later.

I haven't experienced any of this slow down or even ask other comments have suggested the "end packets" or whatever that mess up my downloads. Perhaps it happens to be the fact that I live in a smaller metropolitan area that the rest of the /.'ers?

But in any case, what should I look for to see if it is happening to me? I admit I haven't had much interest in digging deeper since it doesn't seem to be happening for me, but would like to delve deeper if the signs of traffic shaping are more subtle.

Setup (3, Funny)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718656)

I haven't had any problems with speed or connectivity when using torrents and I will admit that while I do leave several legal torrents open at night and on the weekends there are those that are not so legal from time to time. ..

I haven't experienced any of this slow down or even ask other comments have suggested the "end packets" or whatever that mess up my downloads.

Duduuuude! The FBI is setting you up! Get out!!! Now!

Re:A Comcast customer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22719036)

My BT transfers usually top out at around 200k. My regular speed is 800-900k. Its strange, a week or so ago I was getting a good 800k on BT, and now its back to the slower speed.

Before this filtering, I would get whatever my max speed is on large torrents, which are usually the type I get. 1000+ seeds and such.

Re:A Comcast customer (4, Informative)

dwillden (521345) | more than 6 years ago | (#22719068)

Look at your upload speeds during and after the D/l has finished. If you have any desire to not be a leech, you should be trying to maintain at least a 1:1 ul/dl ratio. Comcast lets the dl go fine and allows normal uploading while you are actively dl'ing your file, but as soon as your machine finished dl'ing the file the forged resets start going out to both your machine and any machines trying to dl packets from you thus breaking the connection and prventing you from effectively seeding. This makes it very difficult to upload sufficiently to maintain a proper ratio.

Many torrent sites require a balanced ratio or close to it to be able to participate on their trackers, Comcast makes it difficult (though not impossible) to maintain such a ratio.

Re:A Comcast customer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22719394)

The effect you would notice, i.e. the reason you see here for demanding that a $58bn and 100k people employer has its doors shut by the FCC, is that your BitTorrent traffic (regardless of the content downloaded) could at times be somewhat slower than if the effect did not take place. That is all.

Re:A Comcast customer (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 6 years ago | (#22719904)

My ability to down/up-load torrents has increased quite a bit since a little while before the FCC hearings, I also find that using Miro or Vuse runs better than using Pirate Bay as a tracker does. Comcast is much more careful to only sabotage bittorrent transfers during peak hours rather than around the clock like they did before. My last big one was 9.8 GB and it took 2 weeks off and on.

Re:A Comcast customer (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 6 years ago | (#22720480)

More than likely Comcast didn't oversell in your area, so there is tons of bandwidth for few customers. They only tend to get pissy when a small percentage of their customers are using an inordinate amount of bandwidth. You probably haven't hit that limit yet. Either that or they are getting scared of the FCC already.

This is what will happen... (3, Insightful)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718452)

FCC will issue a written warning to comcast to stop such practices, slap a $500 fine and close the file.
Comcast will continue to stop Bit Torrent until it can find a way to make money off it.
FCC's Martin will resign in Jan 2009 and join Comcast.

Impersonating me (3, Interesting)

paulproteus (112149) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718470)

The way Comcast's system works is, when Alice communicates with Bob, sending forged packets that impersonate Alice saying, "Bob, never mind - cancel the connection."

If I'm Alice, the Comcast customer, I would find it fraudulent to see a company sending forged packages as me. Why should it be hard to punish Comcast for impersonating me and disrupting my communication with someone else?

If Comcast is allowed to send forged IP messages, are they also allowed to forge emails from me that disrupt my communication with those people?

Re:Impersonating me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22718772)

As loose as the courts view "hacking", I would think Comcast actions would be criminal. As you pointed out, they are impersonating others online.

This is no different than Sprint intercepting phone calls to my mother and impersonating me with misleading information like "I don't want to talk to you anymore."

Re:Impersonating me (1)

girasquid (1234570) | more than 6 years ago | (#22719088)

You mean you actually /do/ want to talk to her?

Re:Impersonating me (2, Interesting)

filekutter (617285) | more than 6 years ago | (#22719154)

I may be redundant or incorrect here, but isn't the interception and reconfiguring of packets by another "entity" illegal? Hasn't this been one of the methods used by Federal agencies to prosecute those involved in system intrusion? I seem to remember the EFF attempting to use this in court filings to attempt to stop Comcast's practices but could be mistaken.

Re:Impersonating me (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 6 years ago | (#22720986)

Yes. Technically what they are doing is a "man in the middle" attack. Even more they are looking inside the packets to decide what to do to them. That is a big no-no. If they want to start inspecting packets, they had better be ready to accept all responsibilities for what is inside them. Otherwise stay net neutral and don't look.

Re:Impersonating me (1)

filekutter (617285) | more than 6 years ago | (#22721152)

Exactly what I thought. I understand that the software they're using does examine the packets searching for bytes unique to P2P applications (all of them as I understand), and when one is found the IP is extracted and a reset request sent to the destination computer forcing a new handshake/ack. Far as I know this IS illegal, and IS an invasion of privacy. Also, since its most probably being done to packets that cross national boundaries I'd dare to assume its a more than just a federal matter.

They also need to make them fix cabe card so you.. (-1, Redundant)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718660)

They also need to make them fix cabe card so you are able to use your own cable box and be able to have that work with out having to deal with there messed up cable card system.

The Remedy (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718720)

The remedy against Comcast for this is to say that because you're not getting the service you paid for, that the price you've paid needs to be reduced to the level of the service you're actually receiving.

I'd say that a 70% reduction in broadband rates -- retroactive -- is very much within the ballpark for this.

New Speak (2, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718786)

Comcast has argued that it doesn't block P2P traffic. Instead, it says it simply slows down packets so that it can better manage its network.

That's like the phone company saying that you talk too much, and in order to slow down your talking they will suddenly and without warning hang up both telephones on the two ends of the conversation for you. Since you have a Redial button, this should only be a minor inconvenience for you at most.

Re:New Speak (2, Informative)

u-235-sentinel (594077) | more than 6 years ago | (#22720610)

That's like the phone company saying that you talk too much, and in order to slow down your talking they will suddenly and without warning hang up both telephones on the two ends of the conversation for you. Since you have a Redial button, this should only be a minor inconvenience for you at most.

that is unless Concast terminated your account. Then you are without service for 12 months.

Yeah I thought it was a joke until January 19, 2007 [youtube.com]

then I learned how sick this company really is.

Another reason I submitted to youtube and vuze.com my testimony [youtube.com] about Concast and why this is a problem and needs to be resolved.

Otherwise you will hear about more people like me being terminated. The video services on the internet aren't getting smaller. They are consuming more bandwidth today than ever before.

It's already happened to several people on my street. I guess the termination rate is higher than the .001% they 'claim' it is.

What? Concast lie? that would never happen right ;-)

Wait.... (4, Informative)

crhylove (205956) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718828)

The FCC is actually going to do something by, for, or of the people? I think every rational constitutionalist in the country just had a collective heart attack. Aren't these the same guys that effectively gave every radio station and television network to these five corporations:

AOL/Time Warner
Viacom
News Corp
Bertellsman
Disney

?

I'll believe it when I see it. Until then I have my rifle loaded and my FM transmitter on high.

Re:Wait.... (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#22719982)

Until then I have my rifle loaded and my FM transmitter on high.

Good. That'll make it easier for us to take you out with this bad boy [wikipedia.org] ;)

Move along citizen, nothing to see here....

managed networks (0)

not_anne (203907) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718908)

Any ISP that says they do not manage their network is lying.

Any ISP that does not filter out spam, viruses, and trojans is doing a disservice to their customers.

I agree that communication from ISPs and their customers could be better about their policies, but the real issue is that a tiny fraction of cable customers use a majority of bandwidth. These customers need to be delt with, and the rest need to be left alone.

maybe get local govts involved? (3, Interesting)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718918)

Comcast's business model largely depends on making deals with local governments to get a monopoly. Deliberately making their service unreliable, could be viewed as some sort of acting-in-bad-faith breach of contract.

Common Carrier Status? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22718956)

Perhaps they can inform Comcast that they have lost Common Carrier Status?

Guess the FCC will get the $1,000,000 rate hike (1)

heroine (1220) | more than 6 years ago | (#22718968)

Guess Comca$t will just put the FCC on the $1,000,000 cable plan.

Re:Guess the FCC will get the $1,000,000 rate hike (1)

hakr89 (719001) | more than 6 years ago | (#22719412)

You should see what they charge for wiretaps.

Well.. (1)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 6 years ago | (#22719018)

Unfortunately, I'm sure it's nothing that a big canvas bag with a money sign on it can't fix.

Common Carrier (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22719498)

If comcast is messing with packets, and the FCC wants to take action, the solution is simple - revoke their status as a Common Carrier [wikipedia.org] . If comcast decides they don't want to get sued into oblivion, maybe they'll stop screwing around with people's packets?

Uh... (1)

Aegis Runestone (1248876) | more than 6 years ago | (#22719792)

I hope this doesn't affect my net storage there. :/ I've stored a lot of my stuff on my account and I hope it doesn't get deleted.

Not enough... (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 6 years ago | (#22720098)

While throttling bandwidth is important I think the government should expand their investigations to include general business practices. And they should include all service providers including cable, satellite, mobile phones, etc. Start by investigating pricing structure.

What justification do these companies have to raise rates every year? Why have mobile phone companies raised text messaging rates to 20 cents per message when it probably costs them a fraction of a cent to transmit them? We pay more for our internet than most of the rest of the world and suffer with subpar service.

Why are pricing packages offered by all competitors virtually identical. I don't mean somewhat similar; I mean exactly the same, beginning pricing and ending with so-called incentives and features. They love signing people up for features they didn't request and locking them into contracts.

Why do the people at these companies feel compelled to resort to dishonest business practices? They talk about the importance of the free market but then seem eager to do everything they can to drive people to embrace regulation. The sad thing is that people really have more control in all this than they'd like to believe. But unfortunately most consumers seem content to put up with this crap. In some ways I see why; we don't have any choice.

I can choose not to have a mobile phone, which I've considered doing. I can dump my internet service. But for various reason they've become necessary tools. So in the end I'm stuck dealing with this garbage regardless of what provider I choose. So in the face of all these problems that FCC investigation is insignificant and doesn't address the larger issues.

Oh please? Please please please FCC? (1)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22720232)

I'll even take back one of those fuck yous, and stop listening to that "Fuck the FCC" song quite as often...

Net Neutrality vs OOXML? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22720534)

I wish that OOXML was as much a controversial subject as net neutrality.

Net Neutrality Principles, Uber-Parent? (0, Flamebait)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | more than 6 years ago | (#22720622)

So you guys couldn't convince voters to approve of an effective government take-over of the entire US-based internet, so you made up "Net Neutrality Princples," and go caterwauling when the world doesn't pay attention to your novel, made-up "principles?" This isn't reporting, this is loser POV pushing.
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