EU ask if software used to track illegal downloaders is illegal itself
Illegal downloading? Not all that again! Well, here's yet another story that makes certain people look out-of-touch and underhand, blissfully ignoring the fact that the bottom line is that people wouldn't be pissing about with all this shit if it weren't for people on the rob.
We're getting ahead of ourselves here.
Some human rights watchdog has asked the European Commission to look at the legality of software being used to analyse file-sharing in the UK.
The software that's been flagged up by Privacy International has the hilarious name of CView and is to be used ISP Virgin Media to try and identify legal-versus-illegal traffic (despite the fact you can hide your activities, reported elsewhere on these very pages).
Virgin Media, of course, reckon that the software poses no risk to anyone's privacy. Unless you count people peering into your business and poking around in it like a virtual Gillian McKeith without invite.
The watchdog is worried about the software used as it utilises something called a 'deep packet inspection', which effectively means that it can identify actual file-names, making it possible to accurately find out what content is legal and what is not.
According to Alexander Hanff, head of ethical networks at Privacy International, use of such software is in breach of current UK law.
"Under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) intercepting communications is a criminal offence regardless of what you do with the data," he said. As such, should Virgin deploy CView, he's game for filing a criminal complaint. This has meant that trials of the technology in the UK have been put on hold while investigations roll out.
In conjunction with this, the UK government are creating legislation that hopes to see illegal file-sharers being identified and subsequently banned from using anything that remotely resembles an internet connection.
A Virgin spokesman says that this software isn't about identifying you e-ne'er-do-wells:
"It was never designed to capture identities. This isn't an answer for that," said Asam Ahmad. "We want to understand what we can do to reduce illegal file-sharing. This will tell us things such as the name of the top ten tracks being shared as well as the percentage of legal versus illegal."
Mr Ahmad said no date had yet been set for the trial but told BBC News it will monitor traffic on three peer-to-peer networks notorious for trading illegal as well as legal software; Gnutella, eDonkey and BitTorrent.
This potentially means that 40% of Virgin Media's customers could have their data scrutinised and they won't be told in advance... apart from those Virgin Media customers who have received a letter after being identified as someone who downloads illegal content already.
Next week: Dog chases tail.