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Comcast ISP File Sharing Traffic Discrimination – Should the Government Interfere?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is investigating charges that Comcast has discriminated against file-sharing traffic on the Internet by restricting the Internet Service Provider’s subscribers sharing of files using peer-to-peer (P2P) and BitTorrent.

The issue really should not be about the ability of an ISP to discriminate between users. I’m actually a proponent of multi-tiered pricing structures controlled by the marketplace instead of regulated by the government. What is at stake is deceptive trade practices, i.e. charging Internet subscribers for services that are not provided because usage is limited behind-the-scenes without full disclosure.

If your cell phone company offered unlimited nights and weekends for a flat monthly rate but secretly impaired your rights to make such calls, you’d be justifiably ticked off because of the misrepresentations that induced you to use that particular company for the unlimited calls. Similarly, an ISP does not have the right to make material misrepresentations as to the nature of the services it provides to its Internet subscribers.

If Comcast is found to have engaged in such practices, unfortunately, the fines and penalties will be passed onto consumers in the form of higher fees in the future. The better route from the beginning would have been to have instituted a multi-tiered system where fees for usage are determined by the bandwidth used with full disclosure of the terms and conditions of the tiered structure.

Is that asking too much? What do you think?

Mike Young, Esq.

Author Mike Young, Esq.

Mike Young has been practicing business and technology law since 1994 and is an angel investor in startups. He's been an entrepreneur since 1988. To get legal help from Attorney Young, click here now or call 214-546-4247 to schedule a phone consultation.

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