After FCC hearing turns into circus act, NY subpoenas Comcast records

At an FCC hearing on Monday, cable broadcasting giant Comcast meant to offer a serious defense to intimations by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and other critics that it is blocking P2P file transfers by end users.

But the remarks made by David L. Cohen, Comcast's executive VP, came across as ludicrous in light of later rumors that Comcast paid employees -- and even homeless people or other non-employees -- to hold seats for the cable company, thereby keeping foes out of the hearing venue in Cambridge, MA.

Comcast "does not block any Web site, application, or Web protocol," Cohen said at the outset of the hearing.

The Comcast exec did admit to "a limited form of network managment," in which requests for file uploads -- but not downloads -- are "delayed" yet not "blocked," and only when periods of high network traffic and other conditions prevail.

FCC chair Kevin Martin doesn't seem to have been totally convinced by Cohen's arguments.

"While networks may have reasonable practices, they obviously cannot operate without taking some reasonable steps," Martin said, during the hearing on Monday. "But that does not mean they can arbitrarily block access to certain services."

Then, on Tuesday, New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo reportedly subpoenaed Comcast's records to look into how the cable provider is handling P2P file sharing through programs such as BitTorrent.

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