Every Click You Make – washingtonpost.com
This article discusses the risk from “deep packet inspection” by ISPs. The article states that at least 100,000 people in the US are being tracked with this technology right now. If true, the impact of this could be huge. Whereas a website can only track you when you are actually visiting that site, your ISP can see all of your activity on any website or other service you use. The idea is that the information collected could be sold to advertisers to better target marketing messages to you. If you had been looking at car sites, you might see more car ads next time you visit an advertising supported website like CNN.com.This is certainly not the realm of science fiction. The Chinese government is already using this technology on a massive scale as part of their national censorship infrastructure. They use it to detect forbidden words and phrases, “Tibet” being at the top of that list right now.Most of us assume that the bad guys are “out there” on the net, and assume that our ISPs are basically just passing our traffic along without looking at it. If they start this kind of inspection, it opens all kinds of additional risks. Once the equipment is there, a rogue sysadmin could tune it to watch for passwords, personal information, bank information, etc. It opens a whole new set of vulnerabilities.Anonymizer’s Total Net Shield, and Private Surfing (with full time SSL enabled) provide significant protection against this threat. Both allow you to tunnel your traffic to Anonymizer without the ISP being able to inspect it, other than to see that it is going to Anonymizer.It is shocking to me that this kind of thing should be possible without explicit user consent. Maybe we need a “truth in labeling” law for Internet service providers. A bottle of Napa Merlot can not be so labeled unless it is from Napa and made from merlot grapes. Similarly, it should not be called an “Internet Connection” if you can’t go everywhere (some ISPs are restricting certain perfectly legal protocols). If the ISP is going to spy on you, it should be in big red letters. Maybe I am OK with that, but I certainly have a right to know in advance.