SOPA Opera

Bend Over For Big Brother’s Deep Packet Inspection and ‘Google-Sized Surveillance’

Surveillance nation.

It may seem that the government keeping an eye on every bit of data flowing across the Internet is an improbably vast form of surveillance, too expensive to manage. Ars Technica informs us that it is terrifyingly easy to nose around inside all our emails, chats and site visits, using a series of functions that include deep packet inspection (DPI). DPI is hardware capability that has been used by no less than that paragon of democracy, the Libyan government under Muammar Gaddafi.

Deep packet inspection is useful because it keeps networks safe. However, it can also reveal the entirety of a web user’s digital trail. If your data flashing through your Internet provider’s routers is like a car going through a stoplight, data packet inspection is performing the function of the traffic cam that captures your plate number. But when used for snooping, data packet inspection doesn’t just snapshot a random packet, it works full-time. This is why DPI’s usefulness in probing data was feared by opponents of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

As Ars Technica’s Sean Gallagher reports, however, deep packet inspection is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to total data surveillance. There are services, Gallagher writes, that offer “Google-sized surveillance“: Read More