Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Cable providers' use of "deep packet inspection" technology called into question over possible privacy concerns

The fourth largest cable provider in the United States has backed away from plans to monitor the communications of its subscribers. Charter says that the data collection efforts would have protected personal information, but obviously that was the greatest concern.

Monitoring could be quite intrusive, and account for every website visited or email sent. It could detect illegal behavior. It sounds like what might happen in less democratic societies (like the monitoring in China or in Muslim countries).

The technology is called “deep packet inspection” and apparently is intended to be used as a research tool to improve customer service, as well as potential sale to marketers interesting targeted “behavioral” advertising. But consumers feel that it could compromise privacy and invite data theft.

The story in The Washington Post today (June 25) is by Peter Whoriskey and is titled “Internet provider halts plan to track, sell user’s surfing data,” link here, on page 1 of the Business Section (D in print).

Please see also the story today (June 25) on Internet advertising issues, also based on a Post story by Whoriskey, on my "main" blog (see my Profile).

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