Tuesday, June 03, 2008

DPI, NebuAd and the law

DSLReports has an article about a New York State bill about behavioral ads. This is the result of a lot of buzz around DPI (deep packet inspection) that carriers are doing (or looking to do). Add NebuAd to the platform and you start scaring consumers and lawmakers in an election year. No one (except the NSA and the White House) wants all their data collected. Granted we live in an era where Privacy is just a word --- folks, there is NO privacy. Privacy policies change quarterly. Companies are going to start mining all the data they have on use. Most cablecos and telcos now give out static dynamic IP's. In other words, your dynamic IP address is really static. It doesn't change. It makes tracking your activity for LEA easier. As CALEA gets expanded by the DOJ and the FBI, ISP's will have to start storing more info - for up to 2 years. That is TeraBytes of data for the smallest ISP.

I see stories about Charter selling browsing history. There's TechDirt's post about NebuAd and Phorm's activities being illegal. (And another post at BB Reports about the same thing). Why? Common Carrier Law says that you can't use DPI. Common Carrier means you are a dumb pipe (for lack of a more gracious term). In addition, using these types of services or DPI means that you may not be protected by the DMCA. Once you inspect packets, you have to start policing the network.

NebuAd has said that they have signed up many ISP's, but BBR says that it is being used by Charter, Knology, Embarq, Broadstripe and Centurytel and Wide Open West. Any ISP using these services needs to include that info in its Privacy Policy along with an opt-out. (Really it should be opt-in, despite what NebuAd says).

It isn't much of a tweak to make behavioral tracking much more than that. And Phorm should know -- it went from being a spyware company to a company selling activity tracking to ISP's.

Yes, ISP's need more revenue, but not at the expense of the consumer's privacy. I would invent a Premium Privacy service that would allow my customers to have no tracking. It would be one way to explain why your service costs more than the ILEC.

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