Comcast Alters Neutrality Pledge As FCC Unveils Repeal

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Internet service provider Comcast reportedly removed a pledge not to create paid prioritization in its internet service from its website on the same day the Federal Communications Commission announced that it planned to repeal net neutrality regulations.

On Comcast's website, the company lists a number of pledges related to net neutrality, the principle that internet service providers should not treat data differently based on the content, user or platform. From 2014 until this year, the page listed a pledge not to prioritize internet speeds based on payment -- a pledge which has since disappeared from the site and remains absent, according to Ars Technica.

"Comcast doesn't prioritize internet traffic or create paid fast lanes," the pledge read before it was removed.

Further investigation revealed that the company had the pledge on the site until April 26, 2017. On April 26, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced his initial plan to repeal rules ensuring net neutrality. The next day, the pledge against paid prioritization had vanished from Comcast's website.

Current net neutrality rules prevent ISPs from creating paid "fast lanes" for data and also bar ISPs from blocking or throttling legal content online.

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The company's website currently includes three pledges on its net neutrality page.

"We do not block, slow down, or discriminate against lawful content," reads one of the pledges. The second states that Comcast believes in "full transparency" in its policies.

"We are for sustainable and legally enforceable net neutrality protections for our customers," reads the third.

"Comcast hasn't entered into any paid prioritization agreements. Period," said Sena Fitzmaurice, a spokesperson for Comcast, according to CNET. "And we have no plans to do so."

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"No matter what the skeptics say, you can't accurately convert an unequivocal statement that Comcast has no plans to enter into any paid prioritization arrangement into plans for paid prioritization," argued Fitzmaurice. "As we've made clear consistently, regardless of how the FCC rules turn out, we will not block, throttle, or discriminate against lawful content."

The page that contained the pledge against paid prioritization also had a pledge regarding Comcast's Internet Essentials program, which provided $10-per-month internet access for low-income families, a result of a requirement requested by the U.S. government when Comcast acquired NBCUniversal in 2011.

It's not clear if the removal of the Internet Essentials pledge from the website indicates that Comcast will discontinue the program. The program is currently active, but the government's requirement expired in 2014.

The FCC is expected to vote on net neutrality rules on Dec. 14.

Sources: Ars Technica (2), CNET, Comcast / Featured Image: Sean MacEntee/Flickr / Embedded Images: Comcast via Ars Technica

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