It was an unfortunate end to a long and laborious process when a coalition of more than 80 civil society organizations, including Public Knowledge, refused to endorse the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Communiqué on Principles for Internet-Policy Making. While this may seem like an obscure process, it has large implications for Internet policy in the U.S. and abroad.
All this talk of Internet surveillance is enough to cause intense bafflement. For the last couple of days, stories about the revolution Iran indicated that the government is able to keep track of the Internet doings of protesters by means of deep-packet inspection (DPI), a technology developed in the West that, like most dual-use technologies, has a good side and a bad side.
The good side is that it can be used to manage networks and deal with computer viruses and other nasties. The bad side is that it can be used to track computer messages, target insurgents, invade privacy, violate Net Neutrality and, as AT&T wants to do, target the use of copyrighted material online and have users thrown off of the Internet. Using DPI as the mother of all Internet filters would seem to be a non-starter, and yet the industry keeps pushing it, perhaps thinking that the U.S.