Anonymous Proxy to Defeat ISP Monitoring
Colorado law school professor, Paul Ohm is ringing the bell of warning concerning Internet Service Provider (ISP) monitoring and logging of its customers' activities online. The professor declares that the ISP’s use of deep packet inspection gear could lead to “the greatest reduction of user privacy in the history of the Internet, and users will suffer dire harms.”
In his paper, Ohm touts how dangerous ISP filtering could be because of the huge amount of private and personal information the ISP can regularly obtain from users.
Professor Ohm states the following:
"In modern connected life, almost no other entity poses a greater threat to privacy than the ISP. ISPs pose a much greater threat to privacy than other online entities and they even pose a greater threat than offline institutions as well, including doctors, psychiatrists, and lawyers."
A very sobering statement. Yet, most ISPs are good at maintaining privacy, but that may change. According to Ohm, the landscape of the ISP is being changed by the introduction of “deep packet inspection (DPI) gear” and “tremendous commercial pressure.” Normally, an ISP only looks at the header of data to send it to its destination. But with DPI technology, they can actually “see” the content being sent. Now, ISP’s have the means to monitor online traffic and data in real-time. Online advertisers want in, and are willing to pay huge amounts of cash to get in and provide targeted, marketing material for these users.
Besides the commercial pressures, government mandates have made ISPs install this sort of technology to provide wiretap access to any user’s data when the law requires it. Even if your ISP isn’t actively logging at this very moment, it has the capability to start at any time. In addition, some ISPs are buckling under governmental pressures to stop illicit P2P downloading, so many of them have resorted to “filtering” web content. Even AT&T has admitted to blocking access to P2P services.
The good news is that much of ISP monitoring is illegal because of US wiretapping laws. But, it is still occurring. Those ISPs which are using the DPI technology give assurances that the data is only held for a short while, and then dumped because of storage issues. Still, we only have their word on this; no actual proof.
Professor Ohm’s words of warning could be prophetic. People should be aware of the dangers and be prepared. In fact, it would be wise to purchase reliable anonymous browsing software to encrypt and protect personal data as well as cloak the Internet Protocol (IP) address which pinpoints a computer’s location, and can be used to track progress online. Even an ISP can’t track someone surfing using anonymous proxy software.
Using software is the only answer. Sites that offer “Free” online anonymous proxies through their web sites are dangerous and unreliable because sent data usually isn’t encrypted and anyone can access it on their servers.
In conclusion, protective measures should be taken. Professor Ohm’s warnings should be heard. Make anonymous browsing a part of your usual web browsing routine before the fact. No one needs to wait to feel the fire rain down to know it will burn. We can feel the heat right now.