The Final Blow to Internet Privacy?

The internet isn’t well known for being private. Major companies like Google and Facebook have been tracking users all over the place for years, as well as mining data from all corners of the internet to sell to advertisers. But even Google and Facebook don’t know everything about your web activity. It’s still kind of private-ish. However, thanks to AT&T and a number

of other internet service providers, the last bits of privacy we currently enjoy are about to be dissolved.

Earlier this year, all of the major ISPs in the United States (AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Cablevision, and Time Warner Cable) announced that they will be rolling out a “six strikes” plan to crackdown on copyright infringement. Basically, the ISPs will penalize anyone they catch pirating stuff online, and the penalties will become more severe with each strike.  But what is disconcerting about the initiative is how they plan on catching pirates. Reports from earlier this year have revealed that they will be utilizing deep packet inspections on a massive scale, which means that they will be keeping track of absolutely everything that you do online. (A real-life corollary to a DPI would pretty much be someone following you around 24/7 and filming everything you do, everywhere you go.) It appears that they also have databases to store the information they collect; however, no information has been released on how much of the data they will store or for how long.

They may catch a few pirates this way and deter a lot of future ones. On the other hand, most serious infringers (at least the ones with brains) will probably just start using VPNs and keep pirating away. If the people they’re trying to catch are just going to find a way around it, the result of the ISPs’ program will still be massive-scale surveillance, but only of their innocent, law-abiding customers who aren’t doing anything wrong. So what do you think? Will this initiative be effective? If so, is it worth sacrificing what’s left of our privacy for?


8 responses to “The Final Blow to Internet Privacy?

  1. I think it would be somewhat ineffective given your point about serious pirate just using VPNs instead, leaving them wil surveillance of all the rest of us. I do think it’s an invasion of privacy even though they’re not going into your own personal hard drive. In this day and age it doesn’t matter any more because technologies like Google Drive and Dropbox allow us to store all of our information and view it online. They shouldn’t be able to see any of that in my opinion, it’s an invasion of our day to day lives that’s more meaningless than effective.

  2. I haven’t felt like the Internet is a private place in years. This is still, though, an invasion of our privacy, and potentially a threat to our security depending on how these companies use our information. It will be interesting to see if there’s much of an uproar about this plan, given that the Internet already feels, at least to me, very non-private.

    I fully agree that it’s going to be ineffective. A lot of piraters are probably skilled enough with technology to find a way around this, like VPNs.

  3. I haven’t ever felt like the internet is truly private, especially since I figured out that Facebook tracks me to tailor the ads they show to my frequently visited websites. This idea about cracking down on piraters, I agree with, but not the way they propose going about it. The idea of having someone follow me around 24/7 video-taping my every move is extremely disturbing, and is reminiscent of 1984’s “Big Brother” approach, which I found to be quite disconcerting. In essence, the internet is not private, but this new approach to catching piraters completely takes away any sense of security or privacy I, and many other users were so desperately trying to grasp onto. I feel as though this approach will be ineffective, and those who want to pirate, will continue to do so regardless of the potential consequences.

  4. Ugh, I find it absolutely disgusting that such a blatant invasion of privacy is even being considered, let alone enacted. This plan is not going to work at all. Although some internet pirates will be caught by this act, as was said before – someone can just use a VPN to evade capture. This plan is a lot like a lock on a sliding door – it will only keep the honest people out. Anyone who is at all experienced with computers will be be able to continue upon their merry law breaking ways, while the rest of us won’t even be able to browse pictures of puppies without someone else knowing about it.

  5. I think this is a very serious issue at hand here. There is definitely a problem with internet privacy these days, but there is also a problem with illegal activity on the internet as well. The question is, what is more important? Justice or individual rights? This surveillance method seems a little extreme to me. I don’t know how I feel about my every move on the internet being tracked. I mean, in real life, people are not allowed to break certain privacy rights. There are requirements for law enforcement to search your house, they must acquire a search warrant. Do you think there should be a similar system set up for internet surveillance? Would someone need to find a reason to track your internet history and obtain a “search warrant?” I think in some sense there should be, but at the same time I think people need to be wise in what they do on the internet and not break the law. This one is a tough call.

  6. Yeah, so fine — I think there should be some sort of ‘crack down’ on piraters, but I totally disagree in this method of approach. I get that the internet isn’t as private as we think and it’s not like we are even a little bit going in the direction of more privacy. But I think someone tracking my every move is completely an invasion of whatever privacy I think that I have when I’m on the web. I’m usually not a big stickler for privacy issues when it comes to this kind of stuff, but I do think that this is taking it too far. I suppose it’s kind of a catch 22 — we want to convert our lives to this digital lifestyle; from bank statements and bills to address books to personal files, but yet we’re so caught up about who sees what.

    I suppose maybe we can’t argue with this because I’m not really hearing any better solutions (and I don’t have one either). But that’s been the problem with internet privacy all along.

  7. I personally don’t care if they are tracking what I am doing on the web so that they can advertise to me or whatever. I think that it is okay because you have the option to opt out. Plus if we are using these free websites then we should understand that they have to make money from somewhere and the best place for them is from advertising to us. I think it is understandable and I guess I don’t really mind. There are also a lot of others who are doing the tracking so it seems like it is just the norm these days. As far as overall internet privacy, I think the major issue would be stealing credit card information and other personal information like social security numbers or bills. I think that if you are a smart user of the internet then you won’t have a problem, but most people are not that smart when using the internet and that is the real problem.

  8. Overall, I agree with jhibbs1 that they can track anything I do online with my devices, I know that I agree the major issue is pirating off of another person’s information, like jhibbs1 said (credit cards and personal information). I think that it’s just another way for ATT&T to get more money. I think this will go into effect, but not last long like they think it will. Privacy these days are not even privacy. Recently Instagram is now stating that anyone’s photos can be used for marketing, commercial, advertising or other such sources. By January 16th, any accounts still present will be risked to have their photos used and no credit given at all. Here are the articles. &

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