Big Brother (Bell Canada) is watching what you are doing in a George Orwell way

"You must love Big Brother.  It is not enough to obey him; you must love him."  - George Orwell 1984

Can you imagine a world where the information you access online, the personal and private data that you transmit, and the surfing patterns that you employ are all monitored by a corporate entity?  A corporation that you pay to provide you with access to the internet?

Well - good news and bad news - you are already living in this world.  Big Brother Bell Canada is using Deep Packet Inspection techniques to determine how you, their paying customer, are using the internet.  What is deep packet inspection (DPI)?  Wikipedia has a fantastic breakdown of DPI, and you really should read it to understand how badly Bell is violating the privacy of their customers</a>.  Basically, DPI is a wiretap of your internet, checking every packet of information that you send or receive.

What would a corporation do with this kind of information?  Well, selling it would be the most likely situation.

Let's just say that you choose to search for, uhm, compromising photos of inebriated women enjoying spring break in Florida.  Since your ISP is able to see ALL of your search results with DPI, they might have sold your information to other companies that market to a person with your proclivities.  Companies that want to provide you with more viewing options, similar to what you have previously searched for.  Maybe at some times this is a good thing, but what if your wife/children/boss sees the results of your previous searches?  This isn't like a browser history that you can clear.  These are targeted ads, directed at you, that indicate the types of interests you have online.  Pretty hard to explain when they show up in your next search.

Or perhaps you feel safer knowing that your ISP can presort your incoming emails to determine if you are planning a coup.  Perhaps this information could be sent to the government and authorities so that they can lock you up - <em>before </em>you have committed a crime.

Now Big Brother Bell says that they are not using this information to target specific individuals, merely they are trying to shape bandwidth to "punish" those that are using the internet for peer2peer transferring, spreading of viruses, or buffer over-flow attacks.  Isn't it fantastic that an ISP has the power of judge, jury, and executioner for the wild frontier that is the internet?

Maybe they can start telling us where and when we can go online, predetermining the "safe" sites that they have determined are best for us.

Canada's watchdog on privacy has cowered politely requested that Bell Canada "generally" inform their customers about the DPI practice.  A real watchdog would have demanded that Bell cease and desist all DPI operations, but I guess since we are Canadian, a polite request will have to suffice.

So - my question to you dear reader - is this acceptable?

And if Bell is allowed to do it, when will Telus, Rogers, Shaw, or MTS start doing it?  If we don't stop them, you know they won't be able to overlook this incredible income stream opportunity.

Spread the word while you still can.

Tweet - Facebook update - Blog - email - whatever.  Be loud and proud while you still can, for if you don't say something now, you might not be able to in the future.

Written by: Jeff Wiener. Follow by: RSS, Twitter,, or Friendfeed
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