As expected, the FCC approved an order last Friday that held Comcast liable for violations of net neutrality principles adopted by the FCC in 2005. The order stemmed from Comcast’s actions with respect to the transmission of broadband traffic emanating from BitTorrent and other peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing sites. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, a Republican, was joined by both agency Democrats, Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein, in the 3-2 vote that was opposed by Republican Commissioners Robert McDowell and Deborah Tate. Although Comcast was not fined, Martin signaled that Comcast and other ISPs that engage in such conduct in the future would be subject to financial and other penalties as he emphasized that the goal of the ruling is to “send a message to the industry that bad actors will be punished.” Specifically, the majority found that Comcast’s practice of “throttling” P2P traffic and of concealing its actions from Internet users who were sent false reset messages violated provisions of the 1996 Telecom Act and the FCC’s 2005 policy statement on net neutrality, which proclaims that broadband networks should be “widely deployed, open, affordable and accessible to all consumers” and that such principles should be “subject to reasonable network management.” Dana Shaffer, the Chief of the FCC’s Wireline Bureau, also observed that Comcast had a “substantial anticompetitive motive” to interfere with P2P applications that pose “a potential competitive threat to Comcast’s video-on-demand service.” Within 30 days of the order’s release, Comcast must disclose to the FCC “the details of its discriminatory network management practices,” describe to the FCC how it will end such practices, and inform the FCC and consumers of its revised network management policy. Comcast will also be required to cease its current P2P practices by the end of this year. Pointing to Comcast’s settlement last March with BitTorrent and related agreement to shift to a web management system that is “protocol-antagonistic,” McDowell, in a dissenting statement, chided the majority for proceeding “with this adjudication,” the effect of which “punishes those that settle and discourages future settlements.” While National Cable & Telecommunications Association President Kyle McSlarrow charged the FCC with “second-guessing reasonable network management techniques,” a Comcast spokeswoman confirmed, “we are considering all our legal options,” as she declared that the ruling “raises significant due process concerns and a variety of substantive legal questions.”