The Federal Communications Commission will investigate complaints that Comcast Corp. actively interferes with Internet traffic as its subscribers try to share files online, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said Tuesday. A coalition of consumer groups and legal scholars asked the agency in November to stop Comcast from discriminating against certain types of data. Two groups also asked the FCC to fine the nations No. 2 Internet provider $195,000 for every affected subscriber. "Sure, were going to investigate and make sure that no consumer is going to be blocked," Martin told an audience at the International Consumer Electronics Show.
In an investigation last year, The Associated Press found that Comcast in some cases hindered file sharing by subscribers who used BitTorrent, a popular file-sharing program. The findings, first reported Oct. 19, confirmed claims by users who also noticed interference with other file-sharing applications. Comcast denies that it blocks file sharing, but acknowledged after the AP story that it was "delaying" some of the traffic between computers that share files. The company said the intervention was necessary to improve the surfing experience for the majority of its subscribers. Peer-to-peer file sharing is a common way to illegally exchange copyright files, but companies are also rushing to utilize it for legal distribution of video and game content. If ISPs hinder or control that traffic, it makes them important gatekeepers of Internet content.
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