FCC Rules Comcast Broke the Law in BitTorrent Flap

Federal regulators voted 3-2 on Friday to rule that “Comcast’s throttling of BitTorrent traffic last year was unlawful,” CNET News reports; the ruling makes this the first time that any U.S. provider has ever been found to violate Net neutrality rules:

“The Federal Communications Commission handed Comcast a cease-and-desist order and required the company to disclose to subscribers in the future how it plans to manage traffic. Comcast had said that its measures to slow BitTorrent transfers, which it voluntarily ended in March, were necessary to prevent its network from being overrun.”

A big part of the problem with Comcast’s defense was that it initially claimed it wasn’t rolling back BitTorrent traffic, when it obviously was. The report said that this did a lot to damage the broadband provider’s credibility in the eyes of the FCC. BitTorrent is increasingly used for legal media transfers, such as Trent Reznor’s recent release of a higher fidelity version of The Slip over P2P networks.

“We need to protect consumers’ access, said FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, a Republican. “While Comcast has said it would stop the arbitrary blocking, consumers deserve to know that the commitment is backed up by legal enforcement.”