Wiretapping threatening Internet, says web inventor Tim Berners-LeeMarch 12th, 2009 - 4:52 pm ICT by ANI
London, March 12 (ANI): Inventor of the web Tim Berners-Lee, alongwith other online security specialists at the Houses of Parliament in London, have warned that the ever-increasing power of computers is threatening the future of the Internet.
The experts are mainly concerned about deep packet inspection (DPI), a technique that makes it possible to peer inside packets of data transmitted across the Internet.
Richard Clayton, a security expert at the University of Cambridge and treasurer of the Foundation for Information Policy Research, points out that DPI is already being used for commercial gain.
According to him, firms try to sell DPI-acquired data those who can use it, such as for online advertisements.
The Chinese government also uses DPI to enforce its web censorship programme, sometimes called the Great Firewall of China.
Berners-Lee concedes that targeted adverts offer online users an improved service and that he does not have any issues with them, but he is uncomfortable with using DPI to provide them.
He says that DPI is like wiretapping, and can enable firms to learn a huge amount about peoples “lives, hates and fears”.
Robert Topolski, a software engineer at the US Federal Communications Commission, says that DPI threatens the trust that exists between web users and internet service providers.
He says that this technology makes it possible for a “man in the middle” not directly accountable to a website’’s operators or its users to intercept and use data sent over the internet, from details of purchases made online to messages shared on social sites.
According to him, this is very different from the widespread practice of monitoring online activity such as search terms, with the user’’s consent, to offer similar targeted adverts.
Clayton and other members of the discussion group said that DPI should be tested against existing data-protection and privacy laws, before it becomes more widely used.
They said that this would either establish precedents that protect web users, or make it clear that new legislation is needed. (ANI)
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