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Virgin Media UK Trial Deep Packet Inspection to Track Illegal File Sharing

Posted: 26th Nov, 2009 By: MarkJ
p2pBroadband ISP Virgin Media UK looks set to be the guinea pig for Detica's new CView system, which is designed to measure copyright infringement on an Internet provider’s network via use of Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) technology. Virgin Media has agreed to trial the solution as part of the technological platform for its planned music service.

The news follows shortly after Ofcom confirmed that it had held talks with Detica, a BAE subsidiary specialising in data gathering and processing, about the possible use of its Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) system by UK ISPs (here).

Detica states that CView™ applies high volume, advanced analytics to anonymous ISP traffic data, and aggregates this information into a measure of the total volume of unauthorised file sharing. The tool claims to meet stringent consumer security design principles (whose principles?) to protect privacy and is powered by a fully automated, closed system which does not identify individuals or store their data.

Andy Frost, Director of Media at Detica says:

“The Digital Britain report set out some bold targets to reduce illegal file sharing on ISP networks, but until now measuring the extent of the problem has been based on conflicting consumer surveys and speculation. We hope the launch of Detica CView™ will pave the way for stronger collaboration between ISPs and the media industry, by enabling all parties to more accurately measure the success of shared initiatives, reduce digital piracy and provide an unparalleled level of accuracy.”

Jon James, Executive Director of Broadband at Virgin Media comments:

"Understanding how consumer behaviour is changing will be an important requirement of Virgin Media's upcoming music offering and, should they become law, the Government's legislative proposals will also require measurement of the level of copyright infringement on ISPs’ networks. Detica's CView™ technology potentially offers a non-intrusive solution which enhances our understanding of aggregate customer behaviour without identifying or storing individual customers' data."

It would perhaps be wrong to point an accusing finger at Virgin Media for using such a technology, which many privacy campaigners have strong reservations about. Indeed we would like to see more publicly released technical details about precisely how the system functions. Ultimately this is something that the government intends to force upon the majority of UK ISPs whether they like it or not.
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