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FCC Finalizes Comcast's Filtering Penalties

Publication Date: 
August 20, 2008
Declan McCullagh

CNET reports on the FCC's ruling against Comcast and mentions the role that some Stanford Law faculty members played in the complaint and outcome. Barbara van Schewick, co-director of the Center for Internet and Society, provided testimony about broadband network management practices during the FCC's public hearing in April 2008 held at Stanford. Declan McCullagh writes:

The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday finally released the text of its 3-2 ruling saying Comcast violated the law when throttling BitTorrent transfers, marking the first time any broadband provider has been found to violate Net neutrality rules.

Comcast will be required to take these steps in the next 30 days: disclose "the precise contours" of its current and future network management practices, and submit a "nondiscriminatory network management" compliance plan so government regulators can decide whether they approve. The company will not be fined.

If Comcast fails to comply, it will be automatically required to "suspend the network management practices" associated with handling BitTorrent transfers.


The ruling from the FCC stems from a request submitted in November by Free Press and its political allies, including some Yale, Harvard, and Stanford law school faculty. They claim that the FCC has the authority--under existing law--to "impose additional regulations" declaring Comcast's throttling to be illegal. They also enlisted the help of computer scientists from schools including MIT and Carnegie Mellon who argued that Comcast's throttling did not amount to reasonable network management.