FCC Hearing: Comcast Hired Seat Warmers

At yesterday’s FCC hearing into Comcast’s practice of blocking BitTorrent traffic in Cambridge, Comcast hired several dozen seat warmers to reduce the number of critics who could get into the hearing.

The hearing was held at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. When Catherine Bracy, the Center’s administrative manager, opened the door to the hearing at 7:15 am, “none of the 35 to 40 people waiting to get in appeared to know what the hearing’s subject matter would be,” the AP reports. She also saw a couple of the ringers sleeping in the front row during the hearing.

So far, this means that Comcast has:

*Blocked most BitTorrent traffic by adding fraudulent bits to transit streams
*Claimed that it was doing no such thing
*Once confronted with two different studies (one by the EFF, the other by the AP) proving as much, admitted that they do indeed block BT traffic
*Described its actions as “delaying” BT traffic when the goal and effect is to stop most BT transfers
*Pretended this was all no big deal
*Changed its ToS to reflect the blockade

And now, we add:

*Hired ringers to reduce public access to a hearing into these practices

Let’s hear it for Philadelphia’s own cable giant, Comcast!

(For more on the hearing, check out Berkman’s FCC hearing linkfest.)