People cynical about Comcast’s P2P "bill of rights"

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People cynical about Comcast's P2P "bill of rights"

New York (NY) – Comcast this week sent out a press release talking about a “bill of rights and responsibilities” for peer-to-peer applications over the Internet.

In part, Comcast says “P2P users should have the right to control their computers’ resources when using P2P applications,” but some users find this as more of a PR move for the cable company instead of any kind of actual useful plan.

“By having this framework in place, we will help P2P companies, ISPs and content owners find common ground to support consumers who want to use P2P applications to deliver legal content,” said Comcast CTO Tony Werner.

However, writers as far away as New Zealand find Comcast’s “good will” plan as anything but.  “If it sounds like a bid to slot some more terms and conditions into a customer’s contract, that’s exactly how internet user advocacy groups in the US are seeing it,” wrote an editor at the New Zealand Herald.

ZDNet’s Dana Blankenhorn wrote, “Comcast can impose whatever rules it wants, can even lie about what the rules are, and customers have no recourse.”  She went on to compare Comcast to the monopolistic Microsoft of the 1990s.

On Crunch Gear, Matt Hickey pointed out Comcast’s track record with consumer rights.  “Is it some sort of Trojan Horse document to trick users into a sense of justice? That remains to be seen until the document is completed, but we always keep one wary eye on companies like Comcast with a history of allowing themselves to be bullied by Hollywood and the RIAA,” said Hickey in a blog post.

This initiative comes after Comcast was put under fire for methodically blocking P2P access for its Internet users.

Earlier this year, reports began to surface that Comcast was purposefully blocking Internet activity it deemed could be used for illegal content distribution.  For example, it made users unable to download BitTorrent files, a modern platform commonly used in video and music pirating.

Comcast came under fire for its decision, with consumer rights advocates and supporters of Net Neutrality crying foul. In February, it actually attended a hearing by the FCC on the issue.

That kind of pressure became too much for Comcast, despite its continuous claims that it was doing nothing wrong.  Comcast had contended that its move was actually to reduce the strain on local cable lines.