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Saturday, 29 March 2008

A U.S.A. ISP in the U.K.

Sounds straight forward does it not? But, even though this sounds probable there are other things to consider like the huge differences in the U.K. data protection compared to the U.S.A. where privacy for private individuals has historically been weak but in more recent times in increasingly becoming weaker.

Why should we care if companies use U.S.A. type privacy laws against U.K. people? We should care on several levels because if we do not we may find our privacy laws being diluted. This was never more true for ISP's.

My own ISP, Karoo, routinely filter Internet traffic. P2P and Usenet are the two most heavily filtered. Not filtered to stop such Internet traffic but filtered to slow said traffic down. They have claimed they only do this at peek times, defined by them as 6pm until 12pm. This just happens to be the time of day when most users are likely to be on-line, but it was proven that they slow this type of traffic 24/7. It is also proven that they filter other traffic 24/7 as well. The company has often denied this but as I said it has been proven that they do.

Why is Internet traffic so important in the continual fight to keep private data private? The very fact they are touching the data stream at all is important in the fight for 'net neutrality'. Once they know they can get away with this level of interference who knows where it will end. They took another step in fiddling with user generated data streams by filtering DNS requests so that when a user mistypes a URL instead of getting the proper '404 URL not found' error pages they instead get forced to see a search engine web page. This is fundamental breakage of how the DNS works. It should be noted that the ISP gets a monetary return should any user be foolish enough to use the search engine. The 'service', such as it is, is an automatic opt-in service. This means that every user using this ISP is automatically subjected to this breaking of the DNS. There is also an opt-out clause as well but it is so poorly written that your average user would not know where to start. There are two ways around this illegal tampering of DNS requests which you can find at the end of this post.

So, we have an ISP that routinely monitors and alters Internet data streams and is showing that they are willing to be evermore brave in how they show their users they are doing it. They do other things behind the scenes that affect Internet data streams that the user will never see therefore never know about. It would seem a natural progression given that they obviously have no concern whatsoever about users data streams that eventually they will progress to Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) and use targeted advertisements as a revenue stream.

This level of tampering with users Internet data streams is unprecedented in the U.K. but is widely used in the U.S.A. which is where a U.S.A. ISP in the U.K. comes in which is the subject of this post.

Once the European Union (EU) declares that a users IP, given when a user connects to the ISP, is private property it will be much easier to fight against this level of tampering by an ISP and I, for on, will be fighting tooth and nail to stop such tampering. The fact they are doing it at all shows how arrogant this ISP is and we all know what happens once that arrogance goes too far. And it will.

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