Skip to main content

ACLU on Web Privacy: Congress Must Be ‘Firewall’

The American Civil Liberties Union said Thursday that Congress needs to be the "firewall" between Web surfers and those who would misuse technology for tracking Web traffic -- a misuse it likened to landmines planted to do massive damage to online privacy.

That came in the wake of a hearing in the House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee on the use of deep-packet-inspection technology by broadband networks and third parties like online ad networks.

ACLU senior legislative counsel Timothy Sparapani said there is a "massive risk" to privacy from the (rather rude sounding) "intrusive deep packet inspection," particularly if the government gets access to it.

“Every time we visit the Internet, everything we read, everything we see -- all of it is up for grabs with DPI,” he added. “If that information is obtained by the government, then you have exactly zero privacy online."

But the ACLU is worried about commercial misapplications, as well, which could lead to discrimination. "DPI could lead to a disparity in Internet speed or pricing based on content, usage or application,” Sparapani said. “That would diminish, not help maximize, the Internet’s potential."

John Eggerton
John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.