by Katherine Barnett
The security and privacy of personal data are being
Europe has not escaped the global move towards ‘surveillance capitalism’. Numerous pieces of legislation are under consideration which put online freedoms and privacy at risk—the UK’s Online Harms white paper is just one example.
Now European telecommunication companies and internet service providers (ISPs) are also under scrutiny for their use of invasive practices which disregard user security and infringe users’ right to privacy.
Deep Packet Inspection
The European Digital Rights (EDRi)
European telcos have so far escaped
In January, however, the EDRi produced a report, outlining how as many as 186 European ISPs had been violating this constraint, using DPI to affect the pricing of certain data packages and to slow down internet services running over-capacity. Alongside 45 other NGOs and academics, it is pushing for the use of DPI to be terminated,
’Opening the envelope’
Deep Packet Inspection is a method of inspecting traffic sent across a user’s network. It allows an ISP to see the contents of unencrypted data packets and grants it the ability to reroute or block traffic.
Data packets sent over a network are conventionally filtered by examining the ‘header’ of each packet, meaning the content of data
Regulators have so far turned a blind eye to this blatant disregard for net-neutrality law and telcos are pushing for DPI to be fully
These data could be used by ISPs to alter one’s services, based on personal preferences and habits. Not only that, but any ill-intentioned individual with access could potentially use them to facilitate cybercrime, such as identity fraud.
As well as infringing our right to privacy, DPI enables ISPs to block or alter a user’s traffic. This could be used to slow or disrupt a user’s connection to competitor sites, giving the ISP an unfair advantage.
If DPI is
It’s easy to see why the use of DPI should be a cause for concern among European citizens. If
With public consultation on the EU’s net-neutrality laws set to take place this autumn, and new laws being voted on in March 2020, the EDRi’s letter clarifies the dangers of DPI and how its
In addition to supporting this
VPNs also enable users to circumvent site-blocks, helping those living under oppressive, heavily-censored regimes to remain connected to the wider world. It is
The EDRi has rightly identified the significant risks to privacy and security which would flow from
What the use of DPI by ISPs has clearly shown is that companies cannot be trusted to look after our data and it is necessary for us to take our privacy into our own hands. Ultimately, our digital rights and freedoms depend on it.
(Katherine Barnett is
by Katherine Barnett