When commercial network operators use DPI, the privacy of Internet users is compromised. But in government hands, the use of DPI can crush dissent and lead to human rights violations.
Setting the Bar High for DPI Sales
Even Republicans and Democrats seem to agree on this problem.
"Internet censorship is a real challenge, and not one any particular industry -- much less any single company -- can tackle on its own, " Rep. Mary Bono Mack wrote in a 2009 letter to Rep. Henry Waxman, then chair of the House Commerce Committee. "Efforts to promote freedom of expression and to limit the impact of censorship require both private and public sector engagement."
Earlier this week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Egypt's government "not to prevent peaceful protests or block communications, including on social media."
Bono Mack's letter and Clinton's statement echo Free Press' call for a congressional inquiry into the issue. But this is just a start.
Before DPI becomes more widely deployed around the world and at home, the Congress ought to establish clear criteria for authorizing the use of such surveillance and control technologies.
The power to control the Internet and the resulting harm to democracy are so disturbing that the threshold for using DPI must be very high.
Today we're seeing the grave dangers of this technology unfold in real time on the streets of Cairo.