Virgin Media to monitor UK file-sharing

Ronny Kerr · November 27, 2009 · Short URL:

User information won't be tracked, but file-sharers understandably worried about privacy concerns

Virgin MediaUK file-sharers: mind your downloads and uploads.

Virgin Media, a UK telecommunications provider with outlets in television, Internet, mobile, and telephone, announced it will be the first ISP to perform a trial of "deep packet inspection" technology as a procedure for monitoring the illegal file-sharing activity of 40% of its userbase.

The new analytics tool, called Detica CView, was designed by information intelligence consultancy Detica specifically for measuring copyright infringement on the Web. Traditionally a collector and processor of massive amounts of data for intelligence and law enforcement agencies, Detica is not ambiguous about the ultimate purpose of its latest technology: to define, classify, and reduce piracy levels in the UK.

"We hope the launch of Detica CView will pave the way for stronger collaboration between ISPs and the media industry," said Detica Director of Media Andy Frost, "by enabling all parties to more accurately measure the success of shared initiatives, reduce digital piracy and provide an unparalleled level of accuracy."

While CView will be monitoring nearly half of Virgin Media's entire network, individual users will not have to give consent to be monitored (they won't even know they are being monitored) because all the data collected will remain anonymous. At this stage, the large ISP seeks only to attain figures about file-sharing, like the proportion of content illegal to share to actual legal content.

Despite Virgin's efforts to maintain that all collected data will remain unassociated with the users from which the data is collected, many are already expecting at least some complaints from Virgin's customers over privacy issues. Who's to blame them? While Virgin appears only considered with data aggregation at this stage, there's no telling if actual repercussions for customers are coming further down the line.

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