Virgin Media puts CView packet sniffing trial on hold

Virgin Media has suspended its plan to trial a technology that allowed it to look at users' data to ascertain whether they were participating in illegal file-sharing
Written by Jack Clark, Contributor

Virgin Media's plan to trial technology to inspect users' internet traffic for illegal or pirated content has been put on hold, ZDNet UK can reveal.

On Thursday a spokesman for the company told ZDNet UK that the trial of the CView technology — made by BAe subsidiary Detica — has been put on hold. CView analyses data travelling over a network with the intent of spotting unlicensed content transfers.

"There is no Detica or CView equipment in our network", nor is there any equipment or software currently plugged in that has similar functionality, the spokesman told ZDNet UK.

CView is a deep packet inspection (DPI) technology that can be installed in an ISP's network and allows operators to inspect every byte of data that passes through it. Virgin Media had plans to use the technology to analyse the level of illegal or pirated content being shared over its network, though it was also planning to anonymise the individual users' IP addresses.

Virgin Media did not ever progress to the stage of trialling the product after announcing plans to in November 2009, according to the spokesman, and the trial is currently on hold.

"While we are still exploring practical ways we can understand the scale of copyright infringement, we are also conscious of consumer concerns and issues around privacy," he said.

When Virgin Media announced the trial, executive director of broadband, Jon James, told ZDNet UK that the trial would go live "within days".

In January, the European Commission told ZDNet UK that it would "closely monitor" Virgin Media's planned trial of the technology, and that the Commission "confirms its commitment to the protection of privacy and security of electronic communications as one of its priorities".

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