Forget Net Neutrality Laws; Just Strengthen Privacy Laws

from the interesting-idea dept

Here’s an interesting idea from law professor Paul Ohm, suggesting that rather than focusing on net neutrality laws, if we just had stronger privacy laws, ISPs would be barred from doing any kind of deep packet inspection, since it would violate your privacy. This seems a lot more reasonable to me than focusing on new telco laws. While I support the principle of net neutrality, and believe it’s important for the internet to thrive, I’m quite scared of any new telco regulations that hand more regulatory authority over the internet to a government agency. Plus, you know the legislation will create loopholes. But, more general privacy legislation could be much more interesting and could effectively guarantee net neutrality, without a special “net neutrality” law.

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Comments on “Forget Net Neutrality Laws; Just Strengthen Privacy Laws”

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Mr Big Content says:

Pull The Other One

When people make such a big noise about “privacy” and “freedom of speech”, it always seems to be a thinly-veiled excuse to violate our precious copyrights and destroy legitimate, long-established business models. When will you realize that my powerful friends and I will never let you do that? Big Content is here to stay, and we own your ass, so get used to it.

Michael Long (user link) says:

How deep is deep?

How deep is deep? In many ways the header of a packet is like the mailing address on the outside of the envelope. It has to be read, by a lot of people, for the packet to be delivered.

So the sender, destination, port number, size, and so on could all be considered “public” information.

And deep inspection really isn’t needed anyway. The primary reason to do deep inspection is to attempt to combat illegitimate P2P traffic, and that can be done without digging into the packet. Sending/recieving gigabytes of data to dozens, if not hundreds of destinations/sources in a short period of time is a pretty good “signature” that can’t be disguised by encryption, nor does it need inspection.

For that matter, counting bytes is even simpler, and the basis for most of the recently announced bandwidth caps. Personally, I think they’d be better off placing much smaller caps on upstream traffic.

Doing so would have the least impact on most customers, while also not strangling newer technologies like “streaming” video and television. It would, however, have a major impact on P2P, which relies on “giving” more than you “get”.

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