Sandvine Tells CRTC That Deep Packet Inspection Is Needed…. WTF?

Sandvine who is best known for selling the gear that Comcast used to throttle their customers connections to the Internet, has decided to file a document with the CRTC that insists that deep packet inspection is needed [Warning: PDF]:

As described above, Sandvine submits that the use of DPI-based congestion management solutions do not create a privacy concern in that they do not inspect content for the purposes of traffic classification, nor is any such information stored within such solutions. Despite this fact, certain respondents claim that somehow the mere presence of DPI-based technology itself raises privacy issues, and have called for an outright ban on any such technology. Imagine if this approach were applied to other technologies, such as those supporting cameras. Single Lens Reflex (SLR) technology underlies cameras that take photos at family birthday parties. The same technology has been applied for surveillance of individuals and public spaces. One use of the technology raises privacy issues, the other does not. Nobody questions the value or validity of the camera technology. So why question DPI technology? Privacy concerns properly attach to applications or uses of technologies, not to the technologies themselves.

They’re comparing deep packet inspection to cameras? Talk about comparing apples and oranges. The fact is that while I am not a lawyer, there are any number of laws governing where, when, and how you can take pictures. No such laws exist about how you can use deep packet inspection. So this technology can be used for any reason right now. For example if an ISP owned by a telco doesn’t want Skype competing against their telephone service, Skype could be knocked down a peg or two so that people on that ISP wouldn’t want to use it. As a result, the telco picks up a few more phone customers. Is that a good thing? For the ISP maybe, but not for you the consumer. That’s why there has to be rules for this sort of technology. Or better yet this technology should be outlawed. After all, your local telephone provider doesn’t restrict how you can use your phone as long as what you’re doing isn’t illegal and you pay your bill. Why should your ISP be any different?

Here’s the bottom line, Sandvine is filing this because they have a self interest in making sure that ISPs continue to buy their gear. If DPI were outlawed, they would be screwed (or at least be wounded as a corporation). Hopefully, the CRTC sees through their bullshit spin and does the right thing which is to ignore this document.

One Response to “Sandvine Tells CRTC That Deep Packet Inspection Is Needed…. WTF?”

  1. I like that association with ‘we regulate appropriate and inappropriate uses of SLRs; why not DPI too?’ It’s a nice punchy response that Sandvine is practically inviting with that analogy.

    What surprised me the most in their finding was just how dismissive they were of the OPC, especially with their claim that the OPC was talking around the issue. I guess that Sandvine didn’t actually read that the CRTC is *also* expected to keep Canadians’ privacy in mind with their rulings…

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