Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Snooping on Web Traffic Gains Favor

An Internet-monitoring technology known as deep packet inspection is gaining favor as a tool to combat viruses and make networks run more efficiently, despite concerns that the technology allows improper snooping on private Web traffic by governments and other prying eyes.

The technology created a political firestorm when the administration of former President George W. Bush used it to monitor international communications as part of counterterrorism efforts. Iran's apparent use of deep packet inspection, or DPI, during a crackdown on protesters last month gave the technology another black eye.

But use of DPI, which examines Web traffic at a much more detailed level than previous technologies could, is still growing globally. "I don't see it shrinking at all," says Al Gidari, a Seattle lawyer who focuses on the communications industry. "Its complexity is increasing, and I don't doubt this field will become even more lucrative."

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