Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Privacy commissioner puts spotlight on internet monitoring technology

Well, once again, the US is being shown that it isn't as concerned with basic freedoms and civil rights as with, um, 'the war on terror':

In a stunning defense of President George W. Bush's warrantless wiretapping program, President Barack Obama has broadened the government's legal argument for immunizing his Administration and government agencies from lawsuits surrounding the National Security Agency's eavesdropping efforts. ....more

Canadians, on the other hand, are trying to promote an understanding of this landscape, so that an intelligent discourse can be pursued:

Canada's privacy commissioner has opened an online discussion on deep packet inspection, a technology that allows internet service providers and other organizations to intercept and examine packets of information as they are being sent over the internet.

"We realized about a year ago that technologies involving network management were increasingly affecting how personal information of Canadians was being handled," said Colin McKay, director of research, education and outreach for the commissioner's office. ....more

If you aren't familiar with the technology of deep packet inspection, then you should probably be reading these reports, which also include issues of net neutrality and divides:

The real threat of censorship comes not from government guarantees of content neutrality, but from carriers discriminating on the basis of content, source, and destination—probably in favor of the powerful and against the weak. -Harry Abelson

It's not new news, for those of us with our ears to the digital wires, but it reiterates the fact that the internet is not necessarily neutral ground. It's infrastructure is largely privately owned and profit oriented, and because it grew up out of a Department of Defense project, the US has more control over the structure of the internet than any other single nation, via it's control over critical nodes in the infrastructure and via it's involvement in the naming organization that translates URLs into machine addressable locations.

That's all the cold-medicine addled brain has to offer up tonight.

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