In the deep
My party colleagues Isak Gerson and Simon Rosenqvist have both questioned the relevance of ”privacy” to the information political debate. The argument is that privacy, being a liberal value and not in line with the idea of collaborative web 2.0, social media and new information sharing possibilities, does not properly address the new digital landscape since it is a new time, with new opportunities and therefore should not be hindered by new possibilities.
One way of preserving privacy online is of course anonymity. The issue of anonymity is not often discussed in the Swedish Pirate Party, with the exception of an old post by SM5POR on the forum on the topic of ATM machines.
Well. Good, old Telefónica SA, the world’s third largest telecom operator and constant pain in the neck for telecommunications users in hispanic and portuguese countries has decided to make a deep packet inspection trial in Brazil. 10000 Telefónicas customers are getting access to new, improved services through increased user profiling. Oi!, a joint enterprise with Telefónica and Portuguese Telecoms, a mobile phone operator in Brazil, has also initiated DPI-tests with 1000 customers. If the results are fortunate they can imagine introducing the system to a wider audience.
FCC in the US has stated that any DPI-based system deployed must be an opt-in for the users. A happy ending for those who remember the BT opt-out trial with Phorm a couple of years ago, an endeavour which later ended up in court. Bear in mind that there is no, to my knowledge, regulation in the European Union that explicitly forbids DPI as a business model, and that even if there were, the guarantees for it not being used may be only slightly smaller than the odds of it not being detected. A strong statement from DG Infso might not be all that unwelcome.
One way of protecting yourself from Phormidable DPI-investigations is to use encryption. That would decrease ISP knowledge of what a given user is doing. ISP ability to find out who and when you’re communicating with someone does, however, not decrease. In the Swedish post, someone objected with TOR and i2p as valid alternatives, but Telefónica being the hero of the day has both GB download limits and simultaneous connections limits per household in Perú. Rumours say that users have to use Windows and are only allowed to connect five computers per household. Taking into account that a large part of the world, particularly western Latin America (or even many countries in Europe) have similar restrictions on downloading, uploading and bad, expensive infrastructure, constant anonymization of traffic is actually, and sadly, not an alternative. An added difficulty is that of encrypting text messages and phone calls, as well as keeping secret the receiver. With a smartphone and Skype? At extra charge. Or not at all.
Microsoft has apparently promised that their new IE-release will contain privacy-enhancing features, although a similar promise two years ago resulted in sore complaints from the advertising industry. Paul Ohm’s essay on surveilling operators from 2009 is probably more accurate than we want to acknowledge.
What might end up an added difficulty for anonymity proponents is the IPcalypse, or the necessary transfer to IPv6, a new numbering system where each connected device, wirelessly or otherwise, would be able to receive its own, unique IP-number with respect to the surrounding world. In theory it insinuates a much facilitated device tracking and by extension user tracking (compare with something like IMEI-numbers for phones).
BandaAncha.eu reported on the 27 november that there’s only seven blocks of IPv4 addresses left. I recall having seen that number before so maybe they are not that easily depleted? If some blockowners give their blocks ”back”, it will anyway extend the deadline for complete depletion. In Sweden it’s apparently possible to get IPv6-tunnels Bahnhof. Perhaps nowadays also from other ISPs, since that article is from 2007.
I might be talking out of my arse though. I’m sure someone will correct me.
UPDATE: In Spain, standing up for net neutrality makes you a communist. In Soviet Russia, net neutrality probably stood up for you.