And you didn’t like Comcast’s TCP resets. Something far more egregious is going on in Canada, where Bell Canada has been engaged in deep-packet inspection of traffic. Bell is using DPI to find and limit the use of peer-to-peer applications such as BitTorrent, which it says are congesting its network, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports.
The University of Ottawa’s Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, says Bell has engaged in the practice without customer consent, has failed to show that it even suffers from network congestion, and has violated Canada’s privacy law – the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) in doing so.
In a complaint to Canada’s privacy commissioner, CIPPIC said it was concerned other large Canadian ISPs were doing the same. In a statement (PDF), the group said:
Bell claims it is respecting the privacy of ISP subscribers, but has refused to describe just what its deep packet inspection of subscribers’ activities really uncovers. “Millions of Canadians use the Internet every day,” said Philippa Lawson, Executive Director of the Clinic. “How can they know if their privacy is being respected, if Bell won’t disclose what it is actually doing?”
There is evidence that other large ISPs such as Rogers, Shaw, and Cogeco may be engaging in similar practices, said Lawson. “Our complaint focuses on Bell, but we are asking the Commissioner to investigate all ISPs who engage in traffic-shaping practices.”
“Canada has privacy legislation that Bell and other ISPs must follow,” Ms. Lawson pointed out. “We’re asking the Privacy Commissioner to investigate just what Bell’s use of deep packet inspection involves. Canadians have a right to know who is looking over their shoulders, and why.”
Bell’s retort: “Bell respects the privacy of our customers. We are in compliance with our privacy obligations.”
Bell admitted the practice in March 2008.