Iran Likes DPI Too

Christoper Rhoads and Loretta Chao report in today's Journal:

...the Iranian government appears to be engaging in a practice often called deep packet inspection, which enables authorities to not only block communication but to monitor it to gather information about individuals, as well as alter it for disinformation purposes, according to these experts.

The monitoring capability was provided, at least in part, by a joint venture of Siemens AG, the German conglomerate, and Nokia Corp., the Finnish cellphone company, in the second half of 2008, Ben Roome, a spokesman for the joint venture, confirmed.

The article later clarifies that the actual creator of Iran's deep packet inspection (DPI) technology is not certain. But I blog for a different point. A group of companies, including ISPs and new advertising firms have proposed DPI for advertising purposes. The idea is that if you were to allow your internet tracking to be analyzed and used for targeted advertising, this could offset the cost of providing internet access. The proposals have largely failed in the US, because of legal, privacy, and business problems with the plan.

The holy grail advertising technologies are the same types of tools that governments would like to use for norm setting, criminal enforcement, and terrorism prevention. It's interesting to see how advertisers and governments are interested in similar technologies.


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Well as it turns out that story has DPI - deep problems with information. (excuse the pun) There are few people more clued into telecom than David Isenberg and he reports today - - that the "journalist" responsible for that article has a long history of making things up and that his sources for this article have already denied saying what he "quotes" them as having said.

The main source for a story in the Wall Street Journal today about Internet monitoring and spying in Iran denies he provided key evidence for the story's main claim. In addition, one of the story's co-reporters has a history of writing stories that his sources disavow.

That's not to say that Iran is not doing DPI but I wouldn't rely on the WSJ to get to the truth of the matter if I were you.

Feh. Surely DPI simply means that the software looks at the content of the packets and tries to guess what they're about. Just using https will defeat thay kind of thing.

By Paul Murray (not verified) on 22 Jun 2009 #permalink

Technology like this tells me that there really needs to be more effort given to ubiquitous encryption. Not just TLS/HTTPS for sensetive sites - though that's certinly a good start - but encryption for as much traffic as is practical. Ideally every news site and every social site, chat service, email server and forum should be accessible using encryption. Not just to stop government snooping, but to stop underhanded tactics by ISPs, and as a basic measure against network administrators trawling their traffic for sensetive information.

DPI will be used in the UK by the main ISPs, probably later this year. British Telecom has already tested it, (without telling their customers).
The UK Government has ok'd the software tho' the EU are not so happy.
Phorm, the company providing the software, say that only 8% of the British public are aware of its existence.
I'm already looking around for another ISP who, at the moment does not use DPI.

By geologiser (not verified) on 24 Jun 2009 #permalink