Feeds

MPs to probe ISP snooping and throttling

Who woke them up?

Boost IT visibility and business value

MPs have today launched an investigation into the use of snooping technology by ISPs which allows them to profile customers for advertisers and throttle or block specific types of traffic.

An inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Communication will examine issues such as the emergence of Phorm's profiling system, and the restriction of bandwidth available to specific applications such as BitTorrent. Both activities are reliant on Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) technology.

"Now the Internet is part of daily life, concerns are increasingly raised about a wide range of online privacy issues," the group said in a background statement.

"Should there be changes to individual behaviour? Should companies be pressed to prioritise privacy issues? Or is there a need for specific regulations that go beyond mere 'data protection' and address privacy directly?"

The inquiry will also consider the impact of DPI technology on ISPs' "mere conduit" protection from liability for illegal traffic such as child pornography and copyright-infringing filesharing.

Child protection charities recently called on the government to force small ISPs to implement the Internet Watch Foundation's blocklist against indecent images of children. Some rights holders have meanwhile campaigned for ISPs to monitor and block music and video transferred illegally over peer-to-peer networks.

The informal cross-party group of MPs and Lords will also consider calls for ISPs to do more to block spam and botnets.

"Opinions differ very widely as to which of these activities should be forbidden, which should be insisted upon, which raise insurmountable privacy issues, and which should be left to the marketplace to determine whether the idea is viable," the group wrote.

"What aspects of network neutrality actually matter in the UK and do consumers need new laws to protect them?"

The government's recently-published report on Digital Britain dismissed the notion of network neutrality. Some UK ISPs have interfered with internet traffic using DPI equipment for several years.

Controversies over filesharing and ISP-level targeted advertising in the last 18 months, however, have gradually driven ISPs' control over internet traffic up the politcal agenda.

The group, chaired by Labour MPs John Robertson and Derek Wyatt, has called for submissions on five questions around the subject (below). It will hold evidence sessions in June, with a final report due in Autumn. Details of how to respond are here. ®

Bootnote

Those inquiry questions in full:

  • Can we distinguish circumstances when ISPs should be forced to act to deal with some type of bad traffic? When should we insist that ISPs should not be forced into dealing with a problem, and that the solution must be found elsewhere?
  • Should the Government be intervening over behavioural advertising services, either to encourage or discourage their deployment; or is this entirely a matter for individual users, ISPs and websites?
  • Is there a need for new initiatives to deal with online privacy, and if so, what should be done?
  • Is the current global approach to dealing with child sexual abuse images working effectively? If not, then how should it be improved?
  • Who should be paying for the transmission of Internet traffic? Would it be appropriate to enshrine any of the various notions of Network Neutrality in statute?

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Canadian ISP Shaw falls over with 'routing' sickness
How sure are you of cloud computing now?
Don't call it throttling: Ericsson 'priority' tech gives users their own slice of spectrum
Actually it's a nifty trick - at least you'll pay for what you get
Three floats Jolla in Hong Kong: Says Sailfish is '3rd option'
Network throws hat into ring with Linux-powered handsets
Fifteen zero days found in hacker router comp romp
Four routers rooted in SOHOpelessly Broken challenge
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
US TV stations bowl sueball directly at FCC's spectrum mega-sale
Broadcasters upset about coverage and cost as they shift up and down the dials
Trans-Pacific: Google spaffs cash on FAST undersea packet-flinging
One of 6 backers for new 60 Tbps cable to hook US to Japan
Tech city types developing 'Google Glass for the blind' app
An app and service where other people 'see' for you
UK mobile coverage is BETTER than EVER, networks tell Ofcom
Regulator swallows this line and parrots it back out at us. What are they playing at?
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.