PORTLAND, ORE. (CN) – Comcast blocks its customers from using peer-to-peer file sharing programs by impersonating the computers of users and canceling file transmissions, according to a federal class action.
Named plaintiff Robert Topolski claims Comcast violates Pennsylvania’s unfair trade practices and consumer protection laws. He demands punitive damages.
“Comcast’s clandestine techniques are similar to those used by totalitarian governments to censor the use of the Internet,” Topolski claims.
Despite claiming to offer “unfettered access to all the content, services and applications that the Internet has to offer,” Comcast forges electronic transmissions to impede access to file-sharing networks such as BitTorrent, Gnutella and Lotus Notes, the lawsuit states.
Toplski claims that tests conducted by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and The Associated Press found that Comcast was forging “reset packets,” or electronic messages from computers, that would tell source computers to stop sending data. Comcast admitted to the FCC in February that it “delay(s)” Internet access for file-sharing programs, according to the lawsuit. Comcast claimed it was trying to avoid congestion caused by the file-sharing applications.
Plaintiffs’ lead counsel is Kari Hong.