Government Technology

Deep Packet Inspection Under Assault over Privacy Concerns in Canada



May 14, 2008 By

Large ISPs including Bell Canada and Rogers Communications Inc. may be monitoring Internet subscribers' online activities contrary to Canada's privacy legislation, and the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic has asked Canada's Privacy Commissioner to investigate. The Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) today filed a complaint with Canada's Privacy Commissioner about Bell Canada's alleged practice of monitoring Internet subscribers' Internet activities without their knowledge or consent. Bell began to apply "deep packet inspection" to its own Sympatico retail customers late in October 2007, but only admitted this practice late in March 2008, after it began applying the same practice to subscribers of other, independent Internet service providers.

Bell claims it is respecting the privacy of ISP subscribers, but has refused to describe just what its deep packet inspection of subscribers' activities really uncovers. "Millions of Canadians use the Internet every day," said Philippa Lawson, Executive Director of the Clinic. "How can they know if their privacy is being respected, if Bell won't disclose what it is actually doing?" There is evidence that other large ISPs such as Rogers, Shaw, and Cogeco may be engaging in similar practices, said Lawson. "Our complaint focuses on Bell, but we are asking the Commissioner to investigate all ISPs who engage in traffic-shaping practices." "Canada has privacy legislation that Bell and other ISPs must follow," Ms. Lawson pointed out.

"We're asking the Privacy Commissioner to investigate just what Bell's use of deep packet inspection involves. Canadians have a right to know who is looking over their shoulders, and why." CIPPIC is based at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law. The clinic seeks to ensure balance in policy and law-making processes on issues that arise as a result of new technologies. Law students work with clinic counsel on projects and cases involving the intersection of law, technology and the public interest.

For more information, visit CIPPIC's website, at http://www.cippic.ca

 


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