The EFF and the Associated Press later demonstrated that this was a lie. Following their findings, the FCC later observed, Comcast "admitted that it did target its subscribers' peer-to-peer traffic for interference" and that it did so regardless of the time of day or the level of network congestion. "Comcast's interference is far more invasive and widespread than the company first conceded," the FCC stated.
In fact, Comcast's activities had far greater ramifications than its effect on its own subscribers. Essentially, the EFF said, the company was injecting forged data packets into the Internet in a way that caused users' connection programs to fail.
Ask yourself: How much control over the Internet do you want to give a company that acts this way?
The FCC in 2008 concluded that Comcast had "unduly interfered with Internet users' right to access the lawful Internet content and to use the applications of their choice." In essence, it found, "Comcast opens its customers' mail because it wants to deliver mail not based on the address on the envelope but on the type of letter contained." The company may have interfered with up to three-quarters of all peer-to-peer connections in certain communities--and it did so secretly.
Comcast showed no gratitude for the FCC's indulgence. Instead, it sued in federal court to challenge the agency's authority in the case--and won. As a result, the FCC is still trying to figure out how to reestablish its authority to oversee Internet providers' network-interfering behavior. In the meantime, however, users had filed a class-action suit against Comcast, which settled the case in 2010 by establishing a $16-million compensation fund. That came to $16 for every affected subscriber.
Comcast appears to have reneged. The FCC, after spending more than a year chasing down the facts, concluded in 2012 that the company hadn't lived up to its commitment. The punishment? It extended the standalone Internet requirement by a year and assessed the firm an $800,000 penalty, described as a "voluntary contribution" to the U.S. Treasury. Based on its 2012 profit of $6.2 billion, that was a tad more than Comcast earned over a single hour that year.
There's no reason to think that Comcast has fundamentally changed its operating philosophy, much less its approach to the Internet. These cases all unfolded under the management of Brian L. Roberts, who has been the company's CEO since 2002 and chairman since 2004. His father, Ralph, is the company's founder.