EUROPEAN INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS (ISPs) have been accused of breaking net neutrality rules through the use of deep packet inspection (DPI).
A group of 45 NGOs, academics and activist companies, spearheaded by the European Digital Rights (EDRi) organisation, have sent a letter to EU officials accusing 186 ISPs are threatening net neutrality by using DPI to bypass current rules and charge more for different parts of the internet.
Though Europe's current net neutrality rules include an outright ban the use of DPI technology that examines specific user information for the purpose of treating traffic differently, EDRi refers to a report published in January 2019, which found that 186 European ISPs appeared to be using DPI to offer customers differential pricing offers, per ZDNet.
"[ISPs] are increasingly using DPI technology for the purpose of traffic management and the differentiated pricing of specific applications or services (e.g. zero-rating) as part of their product design," the EDRi and partners said.
"DPI allows [ISPs] to identify and distinguish traffic in their networks in order to identify traffic of specific applications or services for the purpose such as billing them differently throttling or prioritising them over other traffic."
"Most regulators have so far turned a blind eye on these net neutrality violations. Instead of fulfilling their enforcement duties, they seem to now aim at watering down the rules that prohibit DPI," the EDRi said.
The letter goes on to warn about the threat that DPI poses to EU users' privacy, as it would also allow ISPs to access sensitive data - including health conditions, sexual preferences or religious beliefs - without their consent.
"Given the scale and sensitivity of the issue, we urge the Commission and BEREC to carefully consider the use of DPI technologies and their data protection impact in the ongoing reform of the net neutrality Regulation and the Guidelines," the letter, signed by the likes of Max Schrems, the EFF and the Chaos Computer Club concludes.
European authorities are expected to hold a public consultation on new net neutrality rules in the autumn of 2019, with a vote on the revised rules scheduled for March 2020. µ
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