Comcast had already started penalizing customers who had been using peer-to-peer sharing software like BitTorrent. The company denied it, but the Associated Press and a watchdog group called the Electronic Frontier Foundation ran tests to confirm the accusation.
That's when the Federal Communications Commission stepped in. The regulatory agency issued a statement saying that Comcast had violated "the vibrant and open nature of the Internet."
As a part of this reprimand, the FCC gave Comcast a to-do list that it had to meet within 30 days or face the possibility of sanctions. The list demands that Comcast:
• Disclose details of its discriminatory network management.
• Submit a plan that explains how Comcast will comply with the FCC's demands.
• Submit a list of new network management practices that will replace its current discriminatory ones.
But Comcast is already threatening to punish customers who exchange files through peer-to-peer applications. The company has started slowing down the Internet speeds of its heaviest users by 20 to 30 minutes.
Comcast representatives say that the measure is for the good of all its customers, but such practices open the door to a "metered" Internet, where consumers who use the Internet a lot will be charged more or otherwise penalized.
Online guru Brandon "Fight the Patent" told XBIZ that such measures endanger the open spirit of the Internet.
"It's like net neutrality in reverse," he said, referring to the net neutrality movement, which would seek to ensure that all information on the Internet be treated equally.