Don’t let the ISPs fool ya. Today, they’re in a Senate hearing trying to defend themselves about privacy and ISPs. And they’re pointing their finger at Google.
From a technology standpoint, I practically spit out my coffee when I read this. Now, most laypeople do not know that there is a big difference between Google and the ISPs. If you do an analogy in the automotive industry, ISPs are the roads leading from place to place, while Google is merely a vehicle. So as a consumer, you have the choice of vehicles, but you don’t have a choice in what road you pick, since it’s the infrastructure that the vehicle travels upon. So if the ISPs (people behind the roads) decide to toll you, or inspect the contents in your vehicle? Then you have to let them or else you can’t use the infrastructure. There’s no choice in the matter. With choosing Google however, you are actually selecting the vehicle knowingly letting Google look at your contents. You could just as likely choose Yahoo, MSN, or a number of other “vehicles” for your travels.
So basically, the choice is between voluntary, and involuntary access to data. And the ISPs are comparing themselves to Google? If the Senate hearing committee buys into this, then you know that there’s something seriously wrong with politicians (or they’ve never learned how infrastructure works).
What really got me is this quote on AT&T’s DPI (deep packet inspection) technology. Basically, they have a way to inspect packets and their contents while they’re running through their routers. Nothing super fancy pants, hackers have been doing this for years, but it is hardware.
AT&T says it is not doing anything yet with so-called Deep Packet Inspection technology, which lets routers look beyond basic routing information on internet packets to look more closely at what kind of information is being sent, how, and even the content of the packet.
Now remember something here. AT&T was also the one that allowed the NSA to put in a totally separate room in their main switching center that would fork off all the data going in and out and then pushed really hard to gain retroactive immunity. The SAME company is now telling the Senate that they’re not going to be invading privacy with this technology? Come on.
So sorry, AT&T. But in my opinion, you’ve lost all credibility when you chose to push for immunity instead of facing the consequences of it. You don’t place yourself for consumer rights, nor does it seem like you’d abide by privacy matters anyways. Call it historical precedence. And to wipe the slate clean and start over, is going to take a lot more work than just your word that you won’t be using the DPI technology.
As for the comparison with Google? Seriously. ISPs that are trying to make that relationship just made my day.