Comcast® Faces Allegations to a Probable Violation of Net Neutrality

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The Tutanota co-founder, Matthias Pfau, accuses Comcast® to have temporarily blocked their encrypted email service earlier this month. Pfau claims it prevented users of secured mailboxes of Tutanota, who were also customers of Comcast Xfinity® broadband internet service, from accessing the mailboxes for over twelve hours this month.

After the secure email service went offline for a while, some users were eventually able to get accesses to the Tutanota mailboxes via a Virtual Private Network. The issue came to the notice of Matthias Pfau since customers of Comcast® sent complaints regarding the mysterious downtime of the Tutanota mailboxes. The fastest internet provider is yet to respond to the accusations from the part of the encrypted email service.

According to the passing of a recent net neutrality law in the State of Washington, all Internet Service Providers should disclose any throttling of lawful content or website blocks. The ISPs are also bound to give explanations as to why situations such as an email service going offline even if it is not intentional on the part of the ISP and happened by chance. Other US states are also considering passing similar legislation to that, with several state governors demanding such kinds of disclosures for the Internet Service Providers who work with respective state agencies.

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If an ISP is found to have violated any of the clauses in the Net Neutrality law in Washington, it may lead to penalties or even revocation of the license of the ISP that permits doing business in the state. However, it is not the time for hypothesis or speculation since Comcast® is yet to give an explanation as to what caused the brief downtime of Tutanota mailboxes for Xfinity® customers.

Earlier this month, the protected browsing feature integrated into Xfinity® xFi broadband internet service was found to have blocked Comcast® customers from accessing websites, such as Steam Store and PayPal. Comcast® is yet to disclose an explanation for that, although customers of the ISP complained regarding the inability to load the said websites.

At the core of all these is net neutrality, which advocates ISPs should enable free access to internet content and web apps without blocking or giving preferential treatments to other websites or services. There is a chance that the accusations against Comcast® may be accidental. Only time will tell.

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