Pai claims Netflix refuses to disprove Open Connect fast-lane allegations

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai wants to know why Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) isn't getting back to him on details about encryption protocols it is allegedly using to target the open caching servers of certain large Internet service providers.

"I asked Netflix to respond to these allegations, with a specific focus on whether the company had changed its streaming protocols where open caching was used in a way that impeded open caching software from correctly identifying and caching Netflix traffic," Pai said in a statement issued Friday.

While noting that the SVOD provider did respond to his initial request, and that he had some "productive" discussions with Netflix, Pai said that the company had not yet submitted data that would disprove that it had targeted certain ISP's open caching servers when rolling out an URL encryption protocol earlier this year.

"One month later, that commitment remains unfulfilled. When my office reached out to Netflix for the information (in particular, which ISPs were targeted on which dates), the company refused to turn it over," he said.

In December, Netflix refuted claims that its Open Connect created a "fast lane" that prioritized its streaming data over other data crossing onto an ISP's last-mile network.

"Open Connect does not prioritize Netflix data," said Christopher Libertelli, vice president of global public policy, in a letter to Pai on Dec. 11. "Open Connect uses 'best efforts' Internet services into and out of its content caches. When an ISP asks Netflix to localize an Open Connect cache within its network, it does not disadvantage other Internet content."

Pai, meanwhile, said he was "disappointed and perplexed" that Netflix hadn't sent him promised data that would prove its contention that Open Connect is not a fast-lane strategy. He said that he's not in favor of additional FCC regulation.

"However, if a company asks the FCC to impose public utility-style regulation on every broadband provider in the country in the name of preserving the open Internet but then selectively targets open video standards to secure a competitive advantage over its rivals, it should be called to account."

Netflix has said that its encryption protocol is purely a means to protect its users' privacy and prevent other organizations from snooping in on what its subscribers are streaming. In an e-mail response to ars technica, Netflix said it has responded to all of Pai's questions. "He appears to be targeting us because he disagrees with our Open Internet advocacy, not because of our efforts to protect member privacy," a spokesperson said.

 For more:
- see this FCC statement (PDF)
- ars technica has this story

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