Comcast Can Block BitTorrent Again, Court Rules

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has overruled FCC's decision to sanction Comcast for unfair treatment of BitTorrent users. The ruling, which may also effect FCC's Net Neutrality regulation, means that Comcast could go back to throttling BitTorrent users.

comcastIn 2008 Comcast was ordered to stop slowing down BitTorrent users by preventing them sharing files with others. In addition, the company had to disclose all “network management” practices.

The whole Comcast debacle ignited a discussion about Net Neutrality and eventually led to the FCC’s national broadband plan which was released last month. Today, the Court of Appeals overruled FCC’s decision in the Comcast case, with three judges stating that the commission doesn’t have the authority to require ISPs to keep their network neutral.

After appealing FCC’s decision in favor of BitTorrent users, Comcast has finally got the verdict (pdf) it wanted. Although it seems unlikely that the ISP will pick up its old habit of preventing BitTorrent users to seed files, it could in theory do so.

The Court of Appeals ruling states that the FCC did not have the power to regulate ISPs network managing practices, which leaves the commission with two options. It could appeal at the Supreme Court, or it could ask Congress to give it the powers it wants and/or needs.

The latter option will pose potential problems for the likes of Comcast, with the FCC potentially asking not only for powers to deal with this particular case, but for greatly increased powers to regulate the entire sector.

For BitTorrent users on Comcast and other US Internet providers there are uncertain times ahead.

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