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Ofcom talks to spook firm on filesharing snoop plan

Peering inside your packets

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

"CView does not, and cannot, identify individual internet users"

BT, which in common with most ISPs uses other Detica products, declined to confirm or deny whether it is the ISP referred to in the submission. "BT is not using or trialling CView," it said in a brief statement.

When pressed, a spokesman added via email: "You'll have to ask Detica what they meant... It's not our document."

It's understood that Sky and Virgin Media, the two other ISPs which are most active in development of DPI-based "network intelligence", are not the triallist firm referred to by Detica's consultation response.

Today Detica said it was unable to discuss details of the system beyond the document, but said the beta trial had not yet started.

The Register was particularly interested in details of how CView determines whether filesharing traffic is illegal or not, which is not explained in the consultation submission.

It's also unclear whether Detica envisages Ofcom measuring illegal filesharing across all ISPs, or by sampling a single network.

While the emphasis in the consultation response is on gauging the overall level of illegal filesharing - more of interest to the government and regulators than ISPs - Detica also claims CView could help ISPs operate a "carrot and stick" approach to rein in infringers and profit. It is clear the firm aims for a central role in future commercial deals between ISPs and the record industry.

"We have also been in active discussion with a number of the major music labels, the BPI and the UK Music and Performing Rights Society," it said.

A spokesman for the BPI confimed it had a meeting about CView and found the technology "interesting".

The licensing of ISPs by rights holders is an obvious new business for Detica to target. With its close links to intelligence agencies and law enforcement, it is also closely involved in the Home Office's contoversial Interception Modernisation Programme, which aims to use DPI to capture and store details of every communication that takes place online. There is no suggestion of a direct link between that project and CView, however.

Monitoring illegal filesharers' behaviour would mean they could be targeted with "tailored products and services" - such as legal music services - and hit with "tailored remedial actions" such as bandwith restrictions, expected to be part of the enforcement system government imposes on ISPs.

Such targeted applications, dependent on linking ISP subscribers to surveillance of their internet activity, are likely to prove the most controversial aspect of products like CView. Aiming to head off concerns, Detica said it would operate on an anonymous basis with no data stored.

"CView does not, and cannot, identify individual internet users," it told the government.

It appears CView would however classify users, making targeting them for legal music or film services possible. The approach seems similar to Phorm's targeted advertising system and relies on the same foundation of DPI technology.

Further announcements about CView, perhaps concerning the trial, are expected from Detica soon. ®

This story was corrected after publication to remove a suggestion in the first paragraph that ISPs were present at Ofcom's meeting with Detica.

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