Say the Wikipedia »»»
Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) (also called complete packet inspection and Information eXtraction – IX -) is a form of computer network packet filtering that examines the data part (and possibly also the header) of a packet as it passes an inspection point, searching for protocol non-compliance, viruses, spam, intrusions or predefined criteria to decide if the packet can pass or if it needs to be routed to a different destination, or for the purpose of collecting statistical information. This is in contrast to shallow packet inspection (usually called Stateful Packet Inspection) which just checks the header portion of a packet.
Deep Packet Inspection (and filtering) enables advanced security functions as well as internet data mining, eavesdropping, and censorship. Advocates of net neutrality fear that DPI technology will be used to reduce the openness of the Internet. DPI is currently being used by the enterprise, service providers and governments in a wide range of applications.
It’s used by Phorm, formerly known as 121Media, a US digital technology company, commercially, says another Wikipedia post, going on »»»
Founded in 2002, the company originally distributed programs that were considered spyware, from which they made millions of dollars in revenue. It has since stopped distributing those programs after complaints from groups in the United States and Canada, and announced it was talking with several United Kingdom Internet service providers (ISPs) to deliver targeted advertising based on the websites that users visit.
The company’s proposed advertising system, called Webwise, is a behavioral targeting service (similar to NebuAd or Front Porch) that uses deep packet inspection to examine pages. Phorm says the data collected will be anonymous and will not be used to identify users, and that their service would even include protection against phishing (fraudulent collection of users’ personal information).
Still, World Wide Web creator Sir Tim Berners-Lee and others have spoken out against Phorm for tracking users’ browsing habits, and the ISP BT Group has been criticised for running secret trials of the service.
The Wikipedia post also says the European Commission has, “called on the UK to protect Web users’ privacy, and opened an infringement proceeding against the country in regard to ISPs’ use of Phorm, going on, ‘Some groups, including Amazon.com and the Wikimedia Foundation (the non-profit organization that operates Wikipedia and other collaborative wiki projects), have already requested an opt-out of their websites from scans by the system’.”
Now, in a political application of DPI, “The Iranian regime has developed, with the assistance of European telecommunications companies, one of the world’s most sophisticated mechanisms for controlling and censoring the Internet, allowing it to examine the content of individual online communications on a massive scale,” says the Wall Street Journal.
“Interviews with technology experts in Iran and outside the country say Iranian efforts at monitoring Internet information go well beyond blocking access to Web sites or severing Internet connections,” it says.
And, “The monitoring capability was provided, at least in part, by a joint venture of Siemens AG, the German conglomerate, and Nokia Corp., the Finnish cellphone company, in the second half of 2008, Ben Roome, a spokesman for the joint venture, confirmed.”
The “monitoring center,” installed within the government’s telecom monopoly, was part of a larger contract with Iran that included mobile-phone networking technology, Roome is quoted as saying.
The sale falls under a joint venture called Nokia Siemens Networks, reported last year by Austrian information-technology Web site called Futurezone, says the story:
“The Iranian government had experimented with the equipment for brief periods in recent months, but it had not been used extensively, and therefore its capabilities weren’t fully displayed — until during the recent unrest, the Internet experts interviewed said.”
Iran’s use of DPI, “is done for the entire country at a single choke point, according to networking engineers familiar with the country’s system,” says the WSJ, but, “It couldn’t be determined whether the equipment from Nokia Siemens Networks is used specifically for deep packet inspection.
Britain also has a list of blocked sites, and Germany, too, is considering similar measures, says the post, continuing, “In the U.S., the National Security Agency has such capability, which was employed as part of the Bush administration’s ‘Terrorist Surveillance Program.’ A White House official wouldn’t comment on if or how this is being used under the Obama administration”.
The dark spectre of pornography is used by a repressive entities of all kinds, including the entertainment cartels in their bid to gain control of who does what online, as an excuse for employing what they euphemistically call ‘filtering’.
“Internet censoring in Iran was developed with the initial justification of blocking online pornography, among other material considered offensive by the regime, according to those who have studied the country’s censoring,” says the story, also pointing out the country has been trying to control the Net, “since its use moved beyond universities and government agencies in the late 1990s” and, “In the 2005 presidential election, the government shut down the Internet for hours, blaming it on a cyberattack from abroad, a claim that proved false, according to several Tehran engineers.”
Adds the WSJ “The monitoring center that Nokia Siemens Networks sold to Iran was described in a company brochure as allowing ‘the monitoring and interception of all types of voice and data communication on all networks.’ The joint venture exited the business that included the monitoring equipment, what it called ‘intelligence solutions,’ at the end of March, by selling it to Perusa Partners Fund 1 LP, a Munich-based investment firm, Mr. Roome said. He said the company determined it was no longer part of its core business.”
Wall Street Journal – Iran’s Web Spying Aided By Western Technology, June 22, 2009
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