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Time Warner Changes to Terms of Service Could Allow Metering, Tiers

in Net Neutrality by

WASHINGTON, June 1, 2009 – Consumer advocacy groups are gearing up for another fight with Time Warner Cable after the internet provider quietly updated its terms of service with language that critics have pounced on as a harbinger of future metering and usage caps.

Time Warner subscribers received an updated copy of the terms of service on their most recent bills –  which contained the changes. But the offending provisions came to light Monday after circulating through the blogosphere over the weekend.

The new changes come only months after Time Warner scrapped plans to institute bandwidth caps on customers, reportedly after pressure from Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

In addition to representing the company’s home state, Schumer sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Congress, the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission should investigate Time Warner’s practices, Public Knowledge Founder Gigi Sohn said in a statement. Inquiries would determine “the extent to which [the policies] hamper the free flow of information online, and to which they are anticompetitive,” she said.

Time Warner’s previous promise to NOT institute bandwidth caps, combined with the recent changes in terms of service, could also constitute deceptive trade practices, Sohn said.

Free Press Policy Director Ben Scott said Time Warner executives should “rethink their strategy” if the “quiet and ambiguous online update is what they meant by consumer education.”

A spokesman for Time Warner had not yet responded to inquires at our deadline.

Previously an Assistant Editor at Communications Daily and Washington Internet Daily, Andrew served as Reporter and Deputy Editor for BroadbandBreakfast.com until April 2010. Andrew helped produce and interview telecom and tech policy newsmakers for FastCompany.tv’s 2008 “Washington Week,” and has appeared on C-SPAN’s “Communicators” series. His writing has also appeared in Linux Journal.

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