ACLU Warns Against Intrusive Deep Packet Inspection

July 17, 2008 12:00 am

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Contact: (202) 675-2312 or Washington, DC – Americans’ online privacy was discussed today at a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet. The hearing, titled “What Your Broadband Provider Knows About Your Web Use: Deep Packet Inspection and Communications Laws and Policies,” was meant to shed light on the practice of Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) by Internet service providers (ISPs). DPI allows ISPs to track users’ Internet browsing activities and can be data mined for targeted marketing purposes. The ACLU urges members of the committee to be wary of the privacy landmines inherent in DPI.

The following can be attributed to Timothy Sparapani, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel:

“The expanding use of DPI is increasingly sophisticated, complicated and lacking in transparency. The risk to Americans’ privacy is massive. ISPs will have access to a complete cached record of Americans’ transactions including our search terms, the pop up ads that appeal to us, the stories we read, the blogs we visit and post to, and anyone we’re associated with on the Internet. If that information is misused by commercial vendors for profit, it can lead to embarrassment and annoyance through additional ‘targeted marketing,’ and vendors making decisions about us and our views and lifestyles.

“Every time we visit the Internet, everything we read, everything we see – all of it is up for grabs with DPI. If that information is obtained by the government, then you have exactly zero privacy online. Not only that, DPI could lead to a disparity in Internet speed or pricing based on content, usage or application. That would diminish, not help maximize, the Internet’s potential, and lawmakers should carefully guard against the misapplication of DPI technologies for such purposes. Congress must be Americans’ firewall on this issue.”

For more information on the ACLU’s work with internet privacy, go to:


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