Find answers to your questions about our Acceptable Use Policy.
The following Frequently Asked Questions are intended to further explain how we use and enforce our Acceptable Use Policy, in particular the “Conduct and Information Restrictions,” and to help you better understand your rights and obligations as a subscriber to the XFINITY Internet Service.
What is an "Acceptable Use Policy" and why does Comcast have one?
An Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) is not law; it’s a description of the general rules of the road for using an Internet service, in this case the XFINITY Internet Service. Users of any Internet service, including ours, can affect each other, other users of the Internet, and the “infrastructure”—the network—that gives them access to the Internet. Because our subscribers are part of a larger community of interdependent Internet users, we and most other Internet service providers offer general guidance on how subscribers can and should use our services in a law-abiding, courteous way.
We also tell our subscribers what we require of them and steps we may take to protect the community of users to help ensure that everyone who subscribes to the service can be assured of access to the Internet through a safe, secure, reliable, high-quality network. In the answers to frequently asked questions below, we also describe our usual practices in more detail, so that subscribers have a better idea of what to expect from us.
Why does it matter what kind of content I transmit or post, and why are the "Conduct and information restrictions" so broad and general?
There are a number of different kinds of "conduct and information restrictions" in our Acceptable Use Policy, and there are several different reasons for them.
Comcast and its subscribers must obey the law, and Comcast has set and enforces certain rules as a result:
- Certain activities and communications are inherently criminal or dangerous, no matter where and how they are communicated. Some examples are threatening someone's life, encouraging or promoting other violent, illegal activity, or harassing someone online.
- Some activities that may not seem harmful at first glance may still be illegal, including taking someone else's intellectual property and using or sharing it without permission.
- Some kinds of communications violate other general legal standards or rules. For example, communications that include child pornography, are hateful, violent or otherwise harmful to someone else, or are defamatory (they say harmful and untrue things about a person—especially someone who is not a public figure—that a court finds will damage that person's reputation).
Some activities are prohibited because they use XFINITY Internet Services to interfere with Comcast's network or services or the security of other individual users.
- Sending spam is an example of an activity that harms the network and other users, because it can interfere with receipt and delivery of legitimate email across the network and can interfere with the email accounts of other users.
- Large-scale or automated collection of very large numbers of email addresses or other identifying information may make it easier for you or someone else to send spam and may promote "identity theft."
- For criminal purposes, sending messages that are disguised or altered so that they appear to be coming from someone or somewhere else may interfere with the orderly transmission of information on the Internet. This is often done to hide other criminal activity.
- Sending too many messages can disrupt a server, newsgroup, or other service. We have found that sending more than 1,000 email messages in a 24-hour period may also indicate that the sender's computer has been infected with a virus, and is sending email without the sender's knowledge. See Comcast's email FAQs for more information on this and other security issues, including how to protect yourself from computer infection and how to disinfect a computer.
Won't the restrictions on conduct and information, and Comcast's right to enforce them have a "chilling effect" on online communications? Do I need to worry about Comcast monitoring my communications to see whether I am abiding by the Acceptable Use Policy? How do I know when or how Comcast will enforce these rules?
We support and encourage free and open communication among our subscribers and on the Internet generally, within the limits of law and public safety that govern all social interaction. We do not routinely monitor the content of customer communications, except to take commonplace (and largely automated) security precautions to protect our customers, such as setting up spam filters and detecting viruses and other malware that may be introduced into our network. Comcast does, however, reserve the right to take action based on alleged violations of the Acceptable Use Policy. The following are some situations in which Comcast might act, depending on the circumstances:
- A user contacts us about threats, and we reasonably believe there may be immediate danger to someone.
- Law enforcement officials present us with a valid subpoena, court order, or search warrant.
- We receive evidence of proper legal process in connection with a civil legal claim (a subpoena, court order, or injunction).
- We become aware of activities that violate the Acceptable Use Policy and are potentially harmful or illegal. In such a case, where there is no imminent danger, we notify the subscriber and work with that individual to understand and resolve the situation.
- If we receive a claim that a subscriber is posting or transmitting material that may infringe someone else's intellectual property, we follow the process established under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that requires an Internet service provider to take down such material (generally by requesting the subscriber to do so), and provide a means for disputing infringement claims. (A summary of the provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is provided by the U.S. Copyright Office.)
Doesn't Comcast have a lot of discretion in enforcing these rules? How do I know Comcast won't come after me if I'm merely reporting or complaining about indecent or hateful speech, for example, merely because I am retransmitting it in the process? What if an organization or person who doesn't like me, or disagrees with me, complains that I'm violating the Acceptable Use Policy? What will Comcast do?
We are not an enforcement agency. We publish the Acceptable Use Policy so that subscribers themselves will understand and abide by the “rules of the road” for using our network and XFINITY Internet Services. We would not consider legitimate retransmission of speech that might otherwise violate the AUP (for example, for educational purposes, for political purposes, or to report it to authorities or to Comcast) to be a violation of the AUP and would not take action against a user for this kind of transmission in nearly all cases. We do not try to investigate and resolve every dispute between or among our subscribers or take sides between subscribers, or between subscribers and third parties. Without proper legal process or a reasonable, independent belief that content or activity is clearly and obviously illegal, or that it interferes with other users or could damage or disrupt our network or service offerings, we prefer to have disputes and complaints about alleged violations of the Acceptable Use Policy resolved directly between or among all interested parties.
We will act when we receive appropriate, legally sufficient legal process (subpoena or court order, for example), and will permit disputes between users to be settled by them or in the courts rather than investigating the merits of contrasting views. We will, however, exercise our own judgment about when and how to act to protect our organization, our subscribers, and our network from harm or liability, if necessary.
Finally, we work with our subscribers to resolve issues. When there is any ambiguity in a situation, or even in some cases where a policy violation has pretty clearly taken place, we almost always communicate directly with the subscriber in question about the situation, and provide an opportunity for the subscriber to address the problem before taking any independent action. While we generally do not look for policy violations, we do respond to subscriber concerns and would make reasonable efforts to investigate and rectify any error in enforcement of the Acceptable Use Policy.
What if I believe the policy should be changed? How can I have input into Comcast's practices?
We are constantly trying to evolve and improve our policies and practices. We welcome thoughtful advice and input from subscribers and others who can help us develop more effective, meaningful, and respectful policies for the use of our network and services. We will continue to review all advice and incorporate suggestions as we update and revise the Acceptable Use Policy from time to time. If you have a suggestion, please contact us.