Comcast Sues FCC For Net Neutrality Sanctions

"We filed this appeal in order to protect our legal rights and to challenge the basis on which the Commission found that Comcast violated federal policy in the absence of pre-existing legally enforceable standards or rules," said David Cohen, executive vice president of Comcast, in a statement. "We are compelled to appeal because we strongly believe that, in this particular case, the Commission's action was legally inappropriate and its findings were not justified by the record."

Comcast's lawsuit followed in response to an FCC 3-2 vote last month to sanction Comcast for what it deemed were arbitrary restrictions against Web users who share video, music and other media, which violated regulations regarding its open Internet policies.

The FCC's "net neutrality" laws, which were established by the federal agency in August 2005, require that all Internet traffic be treated equally and establish consumer rights to freely access the Web.

In addition, the FCC ruling had also ordered Comcast to stop blocking Internet traffic for individuals who use peer-to-peer, file-sharing software, such as BitTorrent, by the end of the year, while keeping the federal agency apprised of its network management practices.

Sponsored post

Prior to the federal ruling, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin accused Comcast of lying to the public about its management practices on its Internet network, and called for strong action against the cable company.

Comcast execs, however, denied allegations that it arbitrarily blocked Web traffic, contending that slowing Internet traffic on P2P networks was within the company's legal rights in order to manage network use and reduce excessive bandwidth consumption that slows traffic for the rest of its customers.

The lawsuit is the most recent step in almost a year of organization and legal action by numerous Internet rights and consumer advocacy organizations.

The FCC began to take action against Comcast after receiving continuous complaints that the company had consistently interrupted P2P traffic for users who were accessing these applications to share videos and other media.

Martin's proposal and the ensuing FCC decision was lauded by consumer organizations and Internet rights groups, many of which have condemned Comcast's network practices as illegal.

The case is the first in which a company has been found to have violated FCC "net neutrality" laws. The FCC's decision to sanction Comcast's practices is pivotal in the debate between those supporting an open Internet experience with "network neutrality" and ISPs who contend they have the right to manage and control the use of their own network.

Despite the lawsuit, Comcast said that it intended to comply with all FCC requirements to lift blocks on Internet file sharing traffic and to file necessary information and disclosures to the agency by the end of the year.

"Although we are seeking review and reversal of the Commission's network management order in federal court, we intend to comply fully with the requirements established in that order, which essentially codify the voluntary commitments that we have already announced, and to continue to act in accord with the Commission's Internet Policy Statement," said Cohen in a statement. "We continue to recognize that the Commission has jurisdiction over Internet service providers and may regulate them in appropriate circumstances and in accordance with appropriate procedures."