NBC, Now Owned By Comcast, Once Told FCC It Should Break Net Neutrality To Force ISPs To Be Copyright Cops
from the oh-look-at-that dept
If you don't recall, NBC Universal has actually been vehemently against net neutrality for a long time, in large part because it's afraid that with net neutrality, broadband access providers wouldn't be able to spy on what users were doing, and wouldn't be able to throttle things like BitTorrent, as Comcast famously did in the past. You may even recall that, back in 2008, NBC Universal more or less offered up a deal to the broadband access providers: if the broadband ISPs agreed to become Hollywood copyright cops to spy on users and cut them off for any possible infringement, it would side with them in the fight to get rid of net neutrality.
In fact, in an FCC filing on net neutrality going all the way back to 2007, NBC Universal made it clear that it more or less wanted the FCC to force broadband providers like Comcast into being copyright cops:
What is missing from this debate – and from the Policy Statement and the Commission’s own commentary – is the acknowledgment that a huge and rapidly growing proportion of Internet traffic consists of stolen property and the concomitant recognition that service providers must act to stem the overwhelming use of their broadband facilities for the distribution of that stolen property. While the number of subscribers engaging in such activity is small, the impact on broadband service is enormous. The Commission should make unmistakably clear, as part of its regulations governing broadband industry practices, that broadband service providers have an obligation to use readily available means to prevent the use of their broadband capacity to transfer pirated content, especially when such use represents huge percentages of their capacity and reduces the quality of service to other subscribers. Whether those means consist of relatively low-tech but potentially effective steps such as forwarding notices to customers who have been identified as infringers, or using increasingly sophisticated bandwidth management tools as and when they come online, the obligation to deploy such measures must be explicit.Now, recognize that many of the same folks in leadership positions at Comcast came from NBC Universal, including the author of that comment to the FCC, Rick Cotton, who was General Counsel of NBC Universal, but last year shifted to a new role, entirely focused on "anti-piracy issues." This is the same Rick Cotton who is famous for all sorts of misleading claims over the years, including telling Congress that piracy hurt the American corn farmer because apparently pirates eat less popcorn when they watch movies (I don't get it either). He was also one of the key driving forces behind SOPA.
And he remains a senior exec at Comcast -- the company that is both trying to kill off any chance at real net neutrality reform and which is famous for one of the first net neutrality "violations" in throttling BitTorrent users. Update: Comcast PR people have told me (somewhat snarkily) that Cotton retired this year, just a few months after the press publicly announced his new role (and while his LinkedIn page still lists him as currently employed at Comcast/NBC Universal.
If the FCC follows through and allows its new rules to be put in place, effectively killing off net neutrality, does anyone want to bet how long it will take Comcast -- driven by folks at NBC Universal like Rick Cotton -- to seize upon the opportunity to "monitor" your traffic and try to "use readily available means to prevent the use of their broadband capacity" for what Comcast/NBC Universal thinks is infringing (whether or not it is)?