Lawsuit Accuses Comcast of Interfering

SAN FRANCISCO - Despite having told customers that it does not block or slow access to peer-to-peer file-sharing sites, Comcast Corp. is the subject of a class-action lawsuit claiming the opposite.


Jon Hart, a Comcast subscriber in the San Francisco Bay Area, filed the suit earlier this week in the Alameda County Superior Court, claiming the Philadelphia-based cable and Internet provider intentionally interferes with file sharing and blocks or slows some applications. In the complaint, Hart says Comcast severely limits the speed of P2P sharing and Lotus Notes email, calling the practice "unlawful and fraudulent."


In October, the Associated Press reported that Comcast was actively interfering with high-speed Internet customers' attempts to share files on P2P sites. Comcast issued a statement denying that it was blocking access to any sites, including P2P sites, but it acknowledged to the AP that the company uses sophisticated methods to manage its network. Officials did not elaborate on the technology.


The AP reported that Comcast was slowing subscribers' attempts to upload files to various P2P sites and noted that Comcast's interference occurred more often with uploading attempts than with downloading attempts.


In the suit Hart filed against Comcast, he says the company does "actively and intentionally slow and/or block the ... applications by sending hidden messages to computers that are running file-sharing applications."


"These hidden messages appear to the computer as coming from the other computers with which it is sharing files, telling it to stop communicating," the suit claims. "The result is that file-sharing applications are completely blocked or severely impeded."


The complaint does not list specific instances of slowed file sharing.


Officials from Comcast have not responded to the suit.