The Privacy BlogThoughts on privacy, security, and other stuff.

Apr/08

6

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.

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3 comments

  • N.R.S · April 23, 2008 at 11:03 am

    I was researching to see what type of things I should be doing to protect myself better and found site after site about internet privacy concerns, like my ISP tracking keystrokes. I definitely didn’t, and still don’t like the sound of that, or how my data can be seen by anyone able to tap into my network. Privacy concerns stem from anywhere possible; as long as you type something you are putting yourself at risk. I know I don’t do anything illegal, so I don’t need my keystrokes monitored or my IP address logged by every site I visit. It is almost like Big Brother is coming with the way everything is monitored. Some places are freer than others but that doesn’t mean people know how to protect themselves while surfing the internet.

    For now I will continue using my proxy server to surf the Internet. I do not want, or need, anyone tracking me around the internet…I can mask my IP address and according to the company

    press release
    I am able to surf through many different private domain. This seems to be especially important in areas like China, as you mentioned, which censor just about everything they can think of–like anything Tibet-related.

  • brv · April 30, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    Frankly the idea that we should be able to surf free of all monitoring is not wise. There should be a few backdoors to view so called private surfing for the national interests of nations aiming to protect themselves from terrorist threats. At present the over-talked about theme of China being the new evil of the world makes everyone clammer for “free” web as if this will make people free to be able to read an article about Tibet. The reality of the web is that 99% of users are un-aware that it is a tool that encoded, ssh, is a tool used by enemies of freedom – terrorists that adore all this left wing chatter about freedom of the web.

  • lukes1014 · June 26, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    Yes, but who is watching Anonymizer. It is said that anonymity sites are either run by law enforcement or crooks.

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