ISPs keep their distance from deep packet inspection

ISPs keep their distance from deep packet inspection

Summary: Lawmakers in Washington took a break from dealing with the economy this morning to examine one piece of controversial technology that big companies are quickly distancing themselves from - Deep Packet Inspection. The technology, which allows deep granular analysis of network traffic, grabbed the attention of privacy advocates when it was revealed that Internet Service Providers were interested in DPI as a means of delivering targeted advertising at their customers.

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TOPICS: Browser, Telcos
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Lawmakers in Washington took a break from dealing with the economy this morning to examine one piece of controversial technology that big companies are quickly distancing themselves from - Deep Packet Inspection. The technology, which allows deep granular analysis of network traffic, grabbed the attention of privacy advocates when it was revealed that Internet Service Providers were interested in DPI as a means of delivering targeted advertising at their customers.

Now, big name ISPs are distancing themselves from DPI about as much as campaigning Republicans are distancing themselves from the Bush Administration. Testimony this morning from AT&T, Verizon and Time Warner Cable executives were all very similar: we respect our customers privacy, customers should be given an opt-in- not opt-out - choice and companies who do use inspection technologies will need to be transparent about what they're collecting and how they're using that data.

Also see: Verizon: Put the brakes on broadband monitoring

The information, of course, could be very valuable for advertisers. But, everyone seems to agree that there should be a very slow approach to the adoption of anything related to deep packet inspection, including legislation out of Washington. In a statement, Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, noted that new opportunities in Internet advertising can be good stimulus for the economy, help businesses better connect with customers and even assist consumers in finding what they need on the Internet:

So, that's the good side of advertising. On the other side, we surely need to be informed. Consumers need to be informed about what online entities are doing with their personal data information... I would say I hope we don't charge into legislating in this area before we do fully understand what is possible, what isn't possible, what is helpful and what isn't helpful and what would help the right type of opportunities, but not hinder the overall ways that we can have access to advertising.

Earlier this month, I raised the question of whether DPI was on its way out, seeing how one of the key companies in this space - Redwood City, Calif.-based NebuAd seemed to be falling apart. Its CEO resigned earlier this month and the company has laid off a “significant” number of employees. Still, one company doesn't paint a realistic picture of an entire industry. Phorm, a company with similar technology,  has been given a green light by regulators in the U.K., who found the technology to be legal.

Previous coverage:

Does Big Brother know where you’ve been surfing?

Deep packet spy’s CEO resigns

NebuAd: Galileo or pariah?

BNet: NebuAd Calls 'Time-Out' On Further ISP Ad Targeting

Topics: Browser, Telcos

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5 comments
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  • Im sure everyone will back away except..

    Comcast. Anything they can do to line their pockets with more revenue from their "happy" customer-base and make their experience as "COMCASTIC" as possible - they will do. So while Verizon, TWC, and AT&T backaway, Comcast sees yet another "opportunity" to "serve" their customers better (Just like how the 250GB cap does a whole lot of good...)
    JT82
  • Let ISPs do DPI if they want to.

    But only if they're willing to give up their status as a common carrier. If an ISP looks into the data, they become responsible for that data because they know what it is. After all, the phone companies get to be common carriers because they do not know what is being said in conversations carried by their service.
    Letophoro
    • Common carrier status

      Well, I guess the CIA & NSA will never get to be common carriers, because they [b][i]do know[/b][/i] what is being said in conversations carried by [b][i]anyone's[/b][/i] service. (I imagine they call it, rather than DPI for Deep Packet Inspection, DAI for Deep Anything Inspection.)
      Ferd666
  • How about Deep Packet Insertion?

    Won't that be a boon for advertisers? You download some video or audio, and your ISP inserts commercials into the content.
    kurio99
  • RE: ISPs keep their distance from deep packet inspection

    I don't think I want advertisers to "assist consumers in finding what they need on the Internet". I'd rather have independent, unbiased assistance.

    If my ISP were to begin using DPI on my traffic, I'd immediately switch.

    Outside the obvious privacy issues, using it to advertise is extremely unethical. It's tantamount to my phone company listening in on my phone conversations then playing recordings of commercials based on what I talked about. No thanks.
    s_southern