Privacy Commissioner Files Warning About Deep Packet Inspection… Wow!

Jennifer Stoddart of the Privacy Commission of Canada has recently filed her Review of the Internet traffic management practices of Internet service providers (Warning: PDF). The review is a very interesting (and easy) read. I’ll let you go through the document, but here’s the bottom line that everyone needs to pay attention to:

40. The prospective uses of DPI technology raises serious concerns about individual privacy. DPI technology has the potential to give ISPs and other entities wide ranging access to vast amounts of personal information sent over the Internet. Canadians spend a significant amount of their lives online as consumers, professionals, and citizens. They are entitled to privacy protection pursuant to Canadian telecommunications policy, as set out in the Telecommunications Act, and under privacy laws in Canada. We respectfully submit that before DPI technology is employed, careful consideration should be given to what impact it may have on individual privacy.

Ding! This is exactly what needs to be said. Deep packet inspection has all sort of pitfalls when it comes to privacy that we need to pay attention to how ISPs use this data and implements this technology. One thing to keep in mind is that Bell Canada already uses this technology as part of it’s efforts to throttle its customers and resellers (which has annoyed a few people to say the least). Also, I should note that Privacy Commission of Canada has made these issues the responsibility of the CRTC. So it will be interesting to see if the CRTC tries to throw this back at the Privacy Commission of Canada.

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