May 13, 2008

ISP Wiretapping: FCC, FTC, and Congress Need to Act Now!

Greetings. Charter Communications has now announced that they intend to "wiretap" (that's the only appropriate term I can think of) subscribers' Internet Communications, and use the search data obtained in this manner to inject Charter's own targeted advertising into user data streams.

I believe that the "wait and see" timeout period on these abuses of DPI (Deep Packet Inspection) technology has now expired, and we now need to look to the FCC, FTC, and Congress for immediate actions to protect ISP subscribers' privacy rights, and both the privacy and business rights of the Internet services with whom those users communicate.

Charter's plans seem very much in line with both the Rogers Cable data insertion system (Google Hijacked -- Major ISP to Intercept and Modify Web Pages) and the UK "Phorm" system (UK ISPs to Spy on Google Users (and Others)), both of which I've discussed previously at some length.

As I've noted, the use of content monitoring systems by ISPs on other than a purely opt-in basis is nothing short of wiretapping (in a practical sense that we all can understand, legal loopholes notwithstanding). It is monitoring of communications between users and Internet services, and all of the touted anonymization claims and awkward opt-out cookies don't amount to a hill of beans.

This class of threats to privacy and business interests may have been "merely" theoretical before, but now is concrete and real.

Users can in some cases take their own protective steps by encrypting their communications whenever possible (Toward Pervasive Internet Encryption: Unshackling the Self-Signed Certificate).

But now is the time for our legislators and regulators to earn their salaries, and make it clear that ISPs are supposed to be carriers of communications, not spying on, tracking, and modifying subscriber communications for their own gains.


Posted by Lauren at May 13, 2008 09:51 AM | Permalink
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