Skip to main content

cross posted at The Ohm Project (Yes, we're back up thanks to you and Computer Tyme webhosting!)

Yesterday's hearings before Rep. Ed Markey's (D-MA) House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet reminded those concerned about Internet privacy and free speech that there are a number of clear and present dangers coming from  several different sources, both private and public.

At one point, the CEO of NebuAd, a company that wants to get to know you better through "deep packet inspection" of your Internet traffic, objected to one of Chairman Markey's questions, claiming that it was the equivalent of "Have you stopped beating your wife recently?"

Markey countered:

No, no, no, it's 'Have you stopped beating the consumer?' is the question.

The process of "deep packet inspection" allows the "inspector" to observe and record the details of the packet originator's web activity, including sites visited, links clicked, even keystrokes.  It requires that the packets be intercepted somewhere along their route, and the most accessible point is a customer's Internet Service Provider (ISP).

Companies like NebuAd in the U.S. and Phorm in the U.K. are busy making deals with ISPs like Comcast, Verizon, and Charter in the U.S. and British Telecom and Virgin in the UK so that they can deeply inspect your packets, collect and collate the data on your browsing activity, and then sell it to the highest bidder, with a share going to the ISPs, of course.

Some of the Internet's "founders" find the prospect of such massive data gathering to be terrifying.  At yesterday's hearings, David Reed of M.I.T. likened activities of NebuAd and their ISP partners to a mailman who opens everyone's mail before delivering it.  Tim Berners-Lee said of his data:

It's mine - you can't have it. If you want to use it for something, then you have to negotiate with me. I have to agree, I have to understand what I'm getting in return.

Some argue that what NebuAd and Phorm are doing amounts to a prosecutable violation of existing wiretapping laws.

For their part, the ISPs made their defense at the hearing by attacking Net Neutrality and pointing the finger at other data collectors/privacy violators.  Scott Cleland of Precursor, a consultant group lobbying for ISPs and against net neutrality, said that:

[Google is] the worst privacy offender on the Internet.

He called them "J. Edgar Google."

Why should you care what NebuAd or Google do?  Tim Berners-Lee, often considered the "inventor" of the \Web, put it this way:

I want to know if I look up a whole lot of books about some form of cancer, that it's not going to get to my insurance company and I'm going to find my insurance premium is going to go up by 5% because they've figured out [why] I'm looking at those books.

(5%?!?  Well, he's British.  In the U. S., you're cancelled, baby.)

If NebuAd is collecting it, you can be sure that everyone from your health insurance company to your boss will be buying it.  And you can bet that the FBI, CIA and NSA won't even have to pay for it.

Markey has been out in front on this issue and deserves your encouragement:

Chairman Ed Markey
House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and Internet

Originally posted to ohmproject on Fri Jul 18, 2008 at 04:14 AM PDT.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site