Lawsuit Charges Comcast with Deception

November 16th, 2007 - 9:11 pm ICT by admin  

A California man has filed a class-action lawsuit against Comcast, charging that its blocking of certain applications constitutes fraudulent and deceptive business practices and a breach of contract.

Jon Hart, represented by the San Francisco-based Lexington Law Firm, filed the suit in state court, asking for the court to stop Comcast’s bandwidth-shaping policies and for compensatory and punitive damages.

The case stems from an Associated Press report that documented that Comcast was interfering with users uploading files via BitTorrent and other applications. The AP report showed that Comcast was interrupting uploads by essentially impersonating users and “hanging up” their connections.

The story unleashed a firestorm of protest, including a formal complaint to the FCC by the public policy groups Public Knowledge and Free Press, and a letter to FCC Chair Kevin Martin by Hands Off the Internet, a telecom-funded group against network neutrality.

Accusations of Deceptive Business

Comcast initially denied it was shaping bandwidth in any way. A document on the company’s Web site states, “We do not block access to any Web site or applications, including BitTorrent. Our customers use the Internet for downloading and uploading files … and thousands of other applications online.”

Hart begs to differ. The complaint quoted numerous Comcast advertising messages, such as, “Stop crawling around the Web and start burning rubber with our Performance service” and “Way faster than DSL.” Hart said that Comcast’s 22-page-long terms of service document references specific performance levels but never mentions that Comcast will “impede, limit, discontinue, block, or otherwise impair” BitTorrent or other blocked applications.

Hart said that he specifically upgraded to Comcast’s Performance Plus service to get faster speeds for the “blocked applications.” The complaint charged Comcast with bad faith business practices, alleging the company “schemed to impede use” of peer-to-peer applications, failed to notify customers of the…

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