Definitions Edit

Deep packet inspection (DPI) refers to

the process of inspecting the contents of a data packet while it is in transit over the Internet. For instance, certain keywords can be both monitored and the e-mail containing them can be kept from reaching its intended destination.
the ability of ISPs to analyze the information, comprised of data packets, that traverses their networks when consumers use their services.[1]

Overview Edit

DPI has been used for several years to maintain the integrity and security of networks, searching for signs of protocol non-compliance, viruses, malicious code, spam and other threats.

While providing the most targeted traffic monitoring and shaping capabilities, DPI is also more complicated to run and is far more labor-intensive than other traffic-shaping technologies. "Network flow records contain only packet header information. Packet inspection tools allow an analyst to look at the content of the threat data, which enables a more comprehensive analysis."[2]

Privacy implications Edit

DPI technology raises privacy concerns because it involves the inspection of the content of messages sent from one end user to another — enabling the inspector to draw inferences about a user's personal activities, preferences, purchasing habits and other activities.

The technology has the potential to give ISPs and other organizations widespread access to vast amounts of personal information sent over the Internet for:

Anti-competitive Uses Edit

Recent advances in packet inspection technologies allow network operators to identify the source and content of much of the data traffic they handle and to manage its transmission in increasingly sophisticated ways. Economic theory suggests that a network platform with significant market power and a vertical interest in related content or applications may have an incentive to use network management as a way to degrade or block competing content or applications delivered over its network. Such an incentive may be heightened when network resources are scarce, as during a period of congestion.[3]

References Edit

  1. Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change: A Proposed Framework for Businesses and Policymakers, at 40 n.189.
  2. Privacy Impact Assessment for EINSTEIN 3-Accelerated (E3A), at 4 n.8.
  3. Joseph Farrell, "Open Access Arguments: Why Confidence is Mis-Placed," in Net Neutrality Or Net Neutering, Should Broadband Internet Services by Regulated? 195 (Thomas M. Lenard & Randolph J. May eds. 2006) (discussing the uncertainty surrounding the economic incentives of broadband network platforms in relation to the content and applications that they enable). See also Joseph Farrell & Philip J. Weiser, "Modularity, Vertical Integration, and Open Access Policies: Towards a Convergence of Antitrust and Regulation in the Internet Age," 17 Harv. J. L. & Tech. 85 (2003) (discussing more generally the economic incentives that platform providers have relative to the products and services that they enable).

External link Edit

  • Milton Mueller, "DPI Technology from the Standpoint of Internet Governance Studies: An Introduction" (2011) (full-text).

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