Wednesday, June 24, 2009

More on Deep Packet Inspection: Free Speech vs. Surveillance in the Digital Age

I want to expand on my post from yesterday regarding Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) technology, Iran and China's usage of it to monitor its citizens and stifle dissent, American and European company's development and sale of this freedom crushing technology to those nations, the threat that it poses to consumer privacy (and the Internet itself) in OUR country, and how it all ties back to our own little Constitutional crisis known as warrantless wiretapping (read my post from last week on the latest revelations on that subject).

The reason I've chosen to do a follow up post on my rather extensive first stab at explaining (and understanding it myself) all of this is because, as luck would have it, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now not only wrote an op-ed that was published TODAY on this very topic, she also happened to have interviewed Josh Silver, executive director of Free Press!

Before I get to the video and Amy's article, just a reminder:

DPI technology is capable of tracking Internet communications in real time, monitoring the content, and deciding which messages or applications will get through the fastest.

Further, the Iranians appear to be using DPI "to not only block communication but to monitor it to gather information about individuals, as well as alter it for disinformation purposes." And, the Chinese government is believed to be using it to implement its "Great Firewall," "widely considered the most advanced and extensive censoring in the world" -- an "arrangement that depends on the cooperation of all the service providers."

Watch Amy Goodman's interview of Josh Silver of the Free Press, who broke this story, and recently published an in depth report on DPI technology, entitled Deep Packet Inspection: The End of the Internet as We Know It?)

I would hate to leave you all without posting a couple choice clips from Amy's OUTSTANDING op-ed, entitled Free Speech vs. Surveillance in the Digital Age:

Josh Silver, executive director of Free Press, a media policy group, says the actions of Iran and China should alert us to domestic surveillance issues in the U.S. He told me: "This technology that monitors everything that goes through the Internet is something that works, it's readily available, and there's no legislation in the United States that prevents the U.S. government from employing it...It's widely known that the major carriers, particularly AT&T and Verizon, were being asked by the NSA [National Security Agency], by the Bush deploy off-the-shelf technology made by some of these companies like Cisco." The equipment formed the backbone of the "warrantless wiretapping" program.


The warrantless wiretapping program was widely considered illegal. After abruptly switching his position in midcampaign, then-Sen. Barack Obama voted along with most in Congress to grant telecom companies like AT&T and Verizon retroactive immunity from prosecution. The New York Times recently reported that the NSA maintains a database called Pinwale, with millions of intercepted e-mail, including some from former President Bill Clinton.


Dissenters in Iran and China persist despite repression that is enabled in part by equipment from U.S. and European companies. In the U.S., the Obama administration is following a dangerous path with Bush-era spy programs that should be suspended and prosecuted, not extended and defended.

I would point everyone again to my post last week about the latest warrantless wiretapping revelations, which includes video of Senator Feingold's interrogation of AG Eric Holder, as well as Keith Olbermann's interview of New York Times reporter James Risen. Also of note, is the article I cite by the always brilliant and informative constitutional law expert, Glenn Greenwald.

Click here to read the rest of Amy Goodman's piece from today.

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