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We know what you did last night: Deep Packet Inspection

A new article from Ars Technica:

Deep packet inspection meets ‘Net neutrality, CALEA
By Nate Anderson | Published: July 25, 2007 – 11:10PM CT

Details the promise and peril of a new technology called “Deep Packet Inspection.” On the plus side large-scale deployment of this technology might well be able to make large scale denial of service attacks a thing of the past and provide robust virus protection to all.

As this article indicates, this comes with a downside:

Looking this closely into packets can raise privacy concerns: can DPI equipment peek inside all of these packets and assemble them into a legible record of your e-mails, web browsing, VoIP calls, and passwords? Well, yes, it can. In fact, that’s exactly what companies like Narus use the technology to do, and they make a living out of selling such gear to the Saudi Arabian government, among many others.

According to the article, this technology can also allow ISPs to determine who can access what, as shown by this example from Great Britain:

What that means in this is that you pay by the gigabyte and by the service. Plans start at £9.99 (around $20) a month for just 1GB of data, though use after 10 PM appears not to count for this quota. The lowest price tier also does not support gaming and places severe speed controls on FTP and P2P use (allowing only 50Kbps at peak periods). Plus.net says that the lowest tier will not work adequately with online games or corporate VPNs. Paying £29.99 (around $60) a month provides 40GB of data transfer and fast P2P and FTP speeds, along with 240 VoIP minutes from the company. All of these tiers feature downloads speeds of up to 8Mbps.

As Congress and the Government Printing Office insist on moving from a custody model (libraries have publications housed locally) to an access model (we link to the Future Digital System), librarians have an obligation to consider what will happen to users if we move from our current net neutrality to a model facilitated by the software described above. Do we think its ok for the government to have a complete record of who is accessing what publications? Are we prepared to turn users away when our ISP informs us that our monthly download limit has been reached? What happens when GPO reaches its Internet quotas in a future world where the government purchases Internet access from private providers?

It doesn’t have to be this way. Support Net Neutrality. Educate yourself about digital library technologies and help build the geographically distributed federal depository library system of the future.

Thanks to the folks at Current Cites for pointing out this article.

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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