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[liberationtech] New research report by Christian Fuchs about the polticial economy of the European communications surveillance industry: "Implications of Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) Internet Surveillance for Society"
christian.fuchs at uti.at
Sat Jul 14 03:35:12 PDT 2012
Fuchs, Christian. 2012. Implications of Deep Packet Inspection (DPI)
Internet Surveillance for Society. The Privacy & Security-Research Paper
Series, edited by Emilio Mordini and Christian Fuchs. ISSN 2270-7467.
Research Paper Number 1. EU FP7 project “PACT – Public Perception of
Security and Privacy: Assessing Knowledge, Collecting Evidence,
Translating Research into Action“. 125 pages.
Internet surveillance technologies have recently received attention when
it became public that Western security companies exported such equipment
to countries like Syria, Libya, Iran, Egypt or Bahrain, where they seem
to have been used for repression agaisnt political activists. This
research report focuses on the analysis of the political economy of one
such communications surveillance technology - Deep Packet Inspection
(DPI). It analyses societal implications of DPI Deep Packet Inspection
(DPI) surveillance technologies are communications surveillance tools
that are able to monitor the traffic of network data that is sent over
the Internet at all seven layers of the OSI Reference Model of Internet
communication, which includes the surveillance of content data.
The analysis presented in this paper is based on product sheets,
self-descriptions, and product presentations by 20 European security
technology companies that produce and sell DPI technologies. For each
company, we have conducted a document analysis of the available files.
It focused on the four following aspects:
1) Description and use of the Internet surveillance technologies that
are produced and sold.
2) The self-description of the company.
3) The explanation of the relevance of Internet surveillance, i.e. why
the company thinks it is important that it produces and sells such
4) A documentation of what the company says about opportunities and
problems that can arise in the context of Internet surveillance.
The assessment of societal implications of DPI is based on opinions of
security industry representatives, scholars, and privacy advocates that
were voiced in white papers, tech reports, research reports, on
websites, in press releases, and in news media.
The results can be summarized in the form of several impact dimensions:
1. Potential advantages of DPI
2. Net neutrality
3. The power of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for undermining users’
4. Potential function creep of DPI surveillance
5. Targeted advertising
6. The surveillance of file sharers
7. Political repression and social discrimination
The conducted analysis of Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) technologies
shows that there is a variety of potential impacts of this technology on
society. A general conclusion is that for understanding new surveillance
technologies, we do not only need privacy and data protection
assessments, but broader societal and ethical impact assessments that
take into account the political economy of the security-industrial complex.
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