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Comcast customer sues company for allegedly blocking file sharing

Fri, 11/16/2007 - 8:46am
Mike Robuck

California resident and Comcast customer Jon Hart is suing the nation’s largest cable operator over what he alleges are unfair business practices - interfering with subscribers’ download speeds on peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing programs, including BitTorrent. There are multiple Jon Harts in California; the plaintiff has no known association with the electronics industry.

According to the Associated Press, Hart based his lawsuit partly on the results of an investigation by the AP, published last month, which claimed that Comcast actively interferes with some high-speed Internet subscribers’ attempts to share files over the Internet.

Hart, of the San Francisco Bay area, filed the lawsuit in Alameda County Superior Court on Tuesday. The 22-page lawsuit alleged that Comcast’s practice of reducing speeds on P2P sites and Lotus Notes e-mail was unlawful and fraudulent.

Hart has asked the court to order Comcast to stop blocking P2P sites and apologize to customers for failure to provide the high-speed Internet connections that the company has claimed in advertisements. The class-action suit seeks unspecified monetary damages.

A Comcast spokesman said this morning that the company hasn’t been able to review the filing, but Comcast issued the following statement:

“Comcast does not block access to any Web sites or online applications, including peer-to-peer services like BitTorrent. Our customers use the Internet for downloading and uploading files, watching movies and videos, streaming music, sharing digital photos, accessing numerous peer-to-peer sites, VoIP applications like Vonage and thousands of other applications online.

“We have a responsibility to provide all of our customers with a good Internet experience, and we use the latest technologies to manage our network so that they can continue to enjoy these applications. During periods of heavy peer-to-peer congestion, which can degrade the experience for all customers, we use several network management technologies that, when necessary, enable us to delay - not block - some peer-to-peer traffic. However, the peer-to-peer transaction will eventually be completed as requested.”

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