Deep Packet Inspection: Do you know who’s been reading your email?

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Deep Packet Inspection of email is an increasingly important challenge to privacy interests on the Web. It is also part of the Net Neutrality debate: the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Act's proscriptions against deceptive conduct as a legal limit on Internet Service Provider (ISP) discrimination against Internet traffic.


Detailed Description

In August 2008 the FCC condemned cable-based ISP Comcast's actions that interfered with subscriber use of peer-to-peer Internet protocols to legally share files and access Internet content, practices that contradicted Comcast's offer of unfettered Internet access. While that order is being appealed and the FCC considers formal adoption of net neutrality principles, this Article examines Comcast's actions in light of the FTC Act's deceptive practices standards. It also analyzes the market promises and terms of service of other cable, wireline, wireless, and satellite-based ISPs to examine industry practices that limit consumer choice and competition. To protect Internet users and the Internet itself as a platform for competition and new voices, the FCC should determine whether those practices violate the Communications Act. The FTC should also declare that ISP advertisements of unlimited data or Internet access violate the FTC Act's deceptive conduct provisions when the ISP's material limits on Internet use are not prominently highlighted in the ISP's enticements to subscribers.