Comcast prevails over FCC in Web traffic fight

By Aaron Smith, CNNMoney.com staff writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- A federal appeals court in Washington ruled on Tuesday that the FCC does not have the authority to stop Internet service provider Comcast from interfering with its customers' file sharing.

Tuesday's court decision is the latest volley in a legal fight dating back to 2007, when Comcast subscribers realized that the company was hindering their ability to use peer-to-peer applications like BitTorrent to swap files that consume large amounts of bandwidth.

That led to petitions from advocates and regulatory action from the Federal Communications Commission, which wants to prohibit Internet providers from selectively blocking Web content and applications. The FCC ruled that Comcast had "significantly impeded consumers' ability to access the content and use the applications of their choice" and slapped Comcast with several new oversight rules.

Comcast (CMCSA, Fortune 500) appealed, saying the FCC had no regulatory authority over the company's network-management practices. Tuesday's ruling backs Comcast's position -- a major setback for the FCC as it tries to step up its regulation of broadband providers.

The case is a high-profile battle in the ongoing "Net neutrality" fight, which pits large Internet providers like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon against content and application providers like Google and Skype that rely on those connections to deliver their programs to consumers.

"This is not about government regulation of the Internet," FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said in September, as the commission outlined new rules for Internet providers. "It's about fair rules of the road for companies that control access to the Internet."

The FCC adopted those new rules in October, but Tuesday's court ruling casts doubt on their enforceability.

Comcast spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice told CNNMoney.com, that her company was "gratified" by the court's decision and that the "primary goal was always to clear our name and reputation."

She said that Comcast never blocked file sharing, but acknowledged that the sharing had been "delayed" in a "very, very small percentage of cases when an area gets overloaded."

She said Comcast regards all file sharing to be on equal footing and no longer targets peer-to-peer file sharing. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 18,162.99 121.45 0.67%
Nasdaq 5,106.59 73.84 1.47%
S&P 500 2,123.48 19.28 0.92%
Treasuries 2.14 -0.00 -0.09%
Data as of 7:08am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 16.74 0.24 1.45%
Michael Kors Holding... 45.93 -14.66 -24.20%
Broadcom Corp 57.16 10.24 21.81%
Apple Inc 132.04 2.42 1.87%
AbbVie Inc 67.38 1.28 1.94%
Data as of May 27
Sponsors

Sections

An overwhelming majority of bank customers said in a recent survey that they'd switch to another firm if their account was hacked. More

Workers with college and graduate school degrees saw their wages fall the most last year. The least educated saw a slight bump in pay. More

Apple's new "CarPlay" system, which allows drivers to use iPhones behind the wheel, is raising concerns among auto safety experts. More

Karlos Dansby, a linebacker with the Cleveland Browns, is bringing his winning strategy from the football field into the startup arena. More

Wealthy millennial women are more likely to make at least as much -- if not more -- than their husbands, and are more likely to be the dominant decision-makers on household finances and investments, according to a new report. More