Comcast applauds Obama’s net neutrality announcement


By Josh Peterson |

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In what is sure to further confuse newcomers to the debate, Comcast on Tuesday said it applauds President Obama’s proposed net neutrality rules while disagreeing on how to enforce them.

NET NEUTRALITY: Comcast applauded President Obama’s net neutrality principles, but disagreed that more regulation was needed to enforce them.

In a post published on the company blog, Comcast’s executive vice president and chief diversity officer, David Cohen, said that while the company supports net neutrality principles called for by Obama and announced Monday, it disagreed with his support for strict FCC regulation of Internet service providers under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.

“Doing so would harm future innovation and investment in broadband and is not necessary to put in place strong and enforceable Open Internet protections,” said Cohen, saying the current regulatory regime already gave the FCC the needed authority to enforce net neutrality.

Net neutrality, on its surface, is the principle that all Internet traffic should be treated equally, but debate over how to enforce that principle has consumed the tech policy world for more than a decade.

Reclassifying broadband providers as common carriers under Title II would bring ISPs under utility-style regulations, a move supported by progressives looking to curb the threat of communications monopolies and opposed by free-market advocates fighting big government.

Comcast supported the FCC’s net neutrality rules passed in December 2010 after a federal appeals court ruled — several months before — the agency exceeded its authority after censuring the company for interfering with the Internet traffic of users of the file-sharing network BitTorrent.

As part of the conditions for its merger with NBC Universal in 2011, Comcast agreed to uphold net neutrality principles. The company — whose merger with Time Warner Cable is in limbo before the FCC and the Department of Justice — also supported the FCC’s net neutrality rules passed in December 2010, denouncing a move to Title II then, as well.

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