Feeds

Virgin Media battles privacy campaigners on P2P monitoring

No one's looking at you, alright?

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

Regulators are mulling assurances from Virgin Media that its planned trial system to monitor the level of illegal filesharing on its network will not harm customers' privacy.

"We've been engaging with all the relevant bodies, including Ofcom, the ICO and the EC, to ensure they have the information they need to make an informed judgement about our planned trial," the firm said.

A spokesman refused to confirm it was also speaking to the Home Office, which advises on the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, the legislation governing interception of communications. Virgin Media wants to introduce CView, a system developed by Detica to measure music copyright infringment via peer-to-peer protocols.

The system has already been criticised by privacy camapaigners, who have complained to the European Commission about the technology.

CView relies on Deep Packet Inspection technology, looking inside BitTorrent, Gnutella and eDonkey traffic to determine if it carries unlicensed music by comparing it to a database of "acoustic fingerprints". The way it exposes the content of traffic to processing has led to comoparisons with the targeted advertising technology controversially developed by Phorm (Virgin Media was one of Phorm's prospective ISP partners before it effectively pulled out of the UK market).

Virgin Media and Detica have emphasised in submissions to regulators that CView cannot identify customers or store data, and are not proceeding with a trial until it has the all clear. The pair, who together announced their intention to trial CView in December, say no data about individual customers will be collected. Instead, they argue, it will simply enable them to accurately guage the effect of the government's Digital Economy Bill proposals to reduce the overall level of illegal filesharing.

"Once deployed, CView will only offer a non-intrusive solution to enhance the understanding of aggregate customer behaviour; it will not be used for any other purpose," Virgin Media and Detica told regulators.

"In particular, none of the traffic data collected could ever be used to identify or be attributed back to a customer and, consequently, cannot be used to take any action against a customer."

It's planned that the CView trial will mean the traffic of about 40 per cent of Virgin Media customers will be monitored for illegal music sharing, but those involved won't be told.

Privacy International, the lobby group, has said it plans a criminal complaint under RIPA once the trial begins. ®

Bootnote

Virgin Media gave The Register a copy of one of its regulatory submissions. You can read it here (pdf).

The Power of One Infographic

More from The Register

next story
Google Nest, ARM, Samsung pull out Thread to strangle ZigBee
But there's a flaw in Google's IP-based IoT system
Orange spent weekend spamming customers with TXTs
Zero, not infinity, is the Magic Number customers want
Want to beat Verizon's slow Netflix? Get a VPN
Exec finds stream speed climbs when smuggled out
US freemium mobile network eyes up Europe
FreedomPop touts 'free' calls, texts and data
'Two-speed internet' storm turns FCC.gov into zero-speed website
Deadline for comments on net neutrality shake-up extended to Friday
GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?
An ideal product if you believe the Earth is flat
NBN Co execs: No FTTN product until 2015
Faster? Not yet. Cheaper? No data
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.