‘Big DPI Brother’ Is Watching You
20 June, 2013
How does society reconcile the technological benefits and privacy impacts of new technology? Deep packet inspection is just one seemingly neutral technological application that can have a significant impact on privacy rights and other basic civil liberties, especially as market forces, the enthusiasm of technologists and the influence of national security interests grow stronger.
What is deep packet inspection? Communications networks have been the key to the social cohesion, political unity and economic development of Georgia as a nation. Both
burdened and blessed by our small territory, generations of Georgians have trusted that their personal messages would be quickly and confidentially carried by the technology of the day – horse, telegraph, Trans-Caucasian cable, microwave and satellite – to their destination.
These networks have been subject to oversight by state and public bodies for many years. As a result, network providers have been subject to legislation, regulations and guidelines addressing factors including regional service levels, the production of domestic content, competitive positioning within the domestic marketplace, and the protection of personal information. Similar expectations, and regimes, exist elsewhere around the world.
In 2007 and 2008, telecommunications pioneers, consumer activists and privacy advocates in the United Kingdom and the United States were disturbed to discover that a few telecommunications providers were participating in experiments to test the use of a network management tool in targeting marketing campaigns and advertisements at specific individuals.
This tool, Deep Packet Inspection (DPI), allows network providers to peer into the digital packets that compose a message or transmission over a network. DPI has been used for several years to maintain the integrity and security of networks, searching for signs of protocol non-compliance, viruses, malicious code, SPAM and other threats.
DPI technology raises privacy concerns because it can involve the inspection of information sent from one end user to another. In other words, DPI technology has the capability to look into the content of messages sent over the Internet – enabling third parties to draw inferences about users’ personal lives, interests, purchasing habits and other activities.
Like Lawful Interception and Retained Data, DPI technology is a tool for protection of national security of Georgia, however it could be used by local political elites, business clans and criminal elements to hack vital information and private data, or like in case of WikieLeaks shed light on indecent behavior of some Governments, diplomatic corps and intelligence forces.
‘Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back’. Watch out curious big brother is watching you, even in case if you have deleted inbox and outbox e-mails you use public Internet where everything could be transparent to DPI.