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EU Extends Deep Packet Inspection Technology Investigation

Posted: 30th Mar, 2009 By: MarkJ
The European Union's (EU) Commissioner for Consumer Affairs and Protection, Meglena Kuneva, is to give a presentation later this week outlining the EU's intent to extend its investigation of Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) systems like Phorm . This will involve gathering evidence from both ISPs and consumers on what information is being collected and manipulated by providers and advertisers.

Phorm works with ISPs, such as BT (WebWise), to monitor what websites you visit for use in targeted advertising campaigns, though its methods have raised more than a few fears about invasions of privacy. Kuneva also warns how ISPs often employ terms (T&C's) that are almost indecipherable. These can sometimes be in direct contravention of privacy laws, making it all too easy for users to enter into something without fully knowing about it:

TelecomTV reports that Ms. Kuneva will say, "Consumers are in fact paying for services with their personal data and their exposure to advertising. This amounts to a new kind of commercial exchange. We need to investigate this quickly, we cannot afford foot-dragging. If we fail to see an adequate response to consumers’ concerns on the issue of data collection and profiling, we will not shy away from our duties."

The European Commission's (EC) telecoms commissioner, Viviane Reding, is known to still be investigating Phorm and has in the recent past hinted that some form of agreement with the UK government might be possible, though it is not yet know what that would be.

The UK government also plans to employ similar technology to track UK Internet users, which places it into somewhat of a biased position and may help to explain why it’s been so reluctant to act on concerns about similar services. Not that there’s a shortage of people warning about it (here, here and here etc.).
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