Comcast Sued Over BitTorrent Blocking

A California man filed suit in state court Tuesday against internet service provider Comcast, arguing that the company's secret use of technology to limit peer-to-peer applications such as BitTorrent violates federal computer fraud laws, their user contracts and anti-fraudulent advertising statutes. Plaintiff Jon Hart, represented by the Lexington Law Group, argues that Comcast's promises of providing internet connections that let users "Download at Crazy Fast Speeds" are false and misleading since Comcast limits downloads by transmitting "unauthorized hidden messages to the computers of customers" who use peer-to-peer file sharing software. Hart wants the court to force Comcast to stop interfering with the traffic. He also wants the court to certify the suit as a class action and force Comcast to pay damages to himself and all other Comcast internet subscribers in California.

View: Full Story @ Wired

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I'm guessing he'll have a good case if there is nothing written in the Terms of Service or the contract that people sign to get Comcast Internet. I would like to see this guy win too because it seems like more often things are being taken away from the internet.

Well, that would be somewhat fair, but that isn't what Comcast has done. Also, that wouldn't get them out of the anti-fraud statutes, because those are meant to protect the public and punish those who violate the provisions. Just like in criminal law, it doesn't help, after stealing someone's purse, to say "Can I have your purse?" and give it back to them if they say no.

Also, changing the TOS going forward wouldn't get them having to pay damages for all of the inferior quality service they have been providing to date.

I can see Comcast's course of action being to send out a letter to all Comcast users basically outlining a new Terms of Service (TOS) and basically saying: "We've made changes to the contract and here are the new rules. Either you agree to them or you get a new ISP. Thanks! Love, Comcrap Comcast"

At which point most users will glance over the letter, see that there is nothing that they have to send back, and then throw the letter away, only to bitch about things later.

What exactly is he gonna do?

Customer: "Comcast promised 'crazy fast' speeds but they are throttling my P2P traffic!"
Judge: "How do you know?"
Customer: "Because it takes forever to download new movies that I don't feel like paying for!"
Judge: "So you are suing Comcast for limiting your ability to download illegal material?"
Customer: "Yep. How much money do I get?"

BitTorrent isn't illegal, and they're throtling it, while the custemer is paying for a service which they advertise as not having throtling.

ISP's can easily avoid annoying customers like this by instead of blocking the torrent traffic, blocking access to the known illegal trackers instead.

Most people get their dodgy stuff from a small number of trackers. Block connecting to just those, and you don't affect the legal torrents anymore.

All any tracker has to do to defeat that system is to put some legal torrents on as well. Also trackers aren't illegal in anyway. Even if the information being tracked is illegal.

I agree with the suit against Comcast, although I'm not sure I would have done the same thing in his place.

What he has done is say: "Hey! Record and Movie anti-piracy groups, look at me!!".

TCLN Ryster said,
I agree with the suit against Comcast, although I'm not sure I would have done the same thing in his place.

What he has done is say: "Hey! Record and Movie anti-piracy groups, look at me!!".


i agree there, unless the person is a WoW freak or something and wants the patches faster

CheeseFart said,
i agree there, unless the person is a WoW freak or something and wants the patches faster

Good point, although I'm not sure I would be getting so worked us as to file a lawsuit just because of a few k/sec slower downloads of infrequent Linux Distros and WoW patches.

TCLN Ryster said,
Good point, although I'm not sure I would be getting so worked us as to file a lawsuit just because of a few k/sec slower downloads of infrequent Linux Distros and WoW patches. :cool:

But that's not the point, the point is that Comcast is limiting your use on purpose. You are paying for a service that likes to be selective. You can download at full speed from Microsoft.com but you can't from bittorrent... One, that is discrimination and 2 they are not allowed to do that.

Finally! Someone's suing an ISP for this kind of behavior! I really hope this guy wins this case, as well as open up the floodgates for more actions against the big telecoms!

A prime example of violation of net neutrality, and people willing to fight for it. This is what I want to see, people fighting back against these damn corporations for this kind of obscene behavior.

Seriously. Not all torrents are illegal, big communities such as linux distros are distributed through bittorrent allowing a greater amount of people to get ahold of this great open source applications. I hope he wins.

Yeah... I hope he wins... I'm still getting decent connections and transfer rates but it is interfering with the tracker sites to keep synced with my upload and download ratios... annoying to say the least.