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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 christian.fuchs 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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