Last updated: April 21, 2010 - 2:26pm
Public interest groups Free Press and Public Knowledge said Tuesday that recent reports that telecom provider RCN has settled a class action lawsuit alleging it interfered with the ability of some of its broadband subscribers to use peer-to-peer file-sharing services highlights the need for FCC authority to address such issues.
In a notice of settlement posted on its Web site and dated Monday, RCN, "without admitting any wrongdoing or liability, has agreed to cease and desist all network management practices" for 18 months starting as of May 1, 2009. A hearing on whether to approve the settlement is set for June 4 in federal district court in New York, according to the notice.
"This is yet another example showing why the Federal Communications Commission needs to be given the authority over Internet access service," Public Knowledge President Gigi Sohn said in a statement. "As of now, there is no federal cop on the beat to protect consumers. Not every consumer will take a case to court, and not every cable company would be willing to settle what could be prolonged litigation."
Free Press Research Director Derek Turner argued in a statement that "RCN appears to have been utilizing tactics that enabled the company to block or degrade its users' Internet experience. These suspicious 'network management' techniques appear to be occurring throughout the industry. ... This company's behavior provides further evidence that we need strong Net Neutrality rules and clear disclosure to protect consumers and to prevent these deceptive practices from becoming the norm among Internet providers."
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