The FCC is set to vote to fine Comcast for its blocking of BitTorrent traffic, with the two Democrats voting with chairman Kevin Martin. The two Republicans have come out swinging against the action.
But Comcast -- and News.com's Declan McCullagh -- say the FCC lacks the authority.
"In order to enforce something, an agency must be enforcing a rule that has force of law," Comcast spokesperson Sena Fitzmaurice told Portfolio.com.
It's true that the FCC adopted a set of principles in August 2005 saying "consumers are entitled to run applications and use services of their choice." But the principles also permit providers' "reasonable network management" and, confusingly, the FCC admitted on the day of their adoption that the guidelines "are not enforceable."
Free Press, meanwhile hailed the upcoming vote:
Should Comcast finally be held accountable for its illegal practices, it will be the direct result of historic public involvement in this precedent-setting debate," said Marvin Ammori, general counsel of Free Press. "We look forward to seeing the order, and commend the FCC for conducting such a thorough investigation on behalf of Internet users everywhere."
Martin issued a joyful statement as well, according to Wired.
"I am pleased that a majority has agreed that the Commission both has the authority to, and in fact will, stop broadband service providers when they block or interfere with subscribers' access," Martin said in a statement Saturday.