Deep packet inspection

Tech lingo transfers into the everyday vocabulary almost like osmosis. Whenever there is big news or debate over one digital technology or other, there is a new phrase for the public to pick up. You could argue language is part of how tech experts maintain their status, much like doctors and lawyers. British free-lance writer Duncan Campbell popularised one such term when Prismgate broke, namely “deep packet inspection”, a surveillance method the NSA used to “wiretap” e-mail and other online communications. Before Prism, it was often used by digital activists as a nightmare vision of what sort of internet monitoring would be the norm if copyright owners and other such enemies of the so-called free internet had their way. Prism proved that the threat of surveillance was with governments more than entertainment companies, but deep packet inspection sounded just as frightening. Something to scare the kids with if they won’t finish that Subway Surfers-session and come to supper. On closer inspection (pun intended) it turns out however, that deep packet inspection is common-practice with telecom carriers. Here is how one system supplier presents its latest product:

Market-leading equipment makers, specialized software vendors and cloud service providers embed Qosmos in telco and enterprise solutions where real-time Layer 7* intelligence is critical, such as traffic optimization, policy management, quality of experience, analytics, firewalls, cyber defense and more

No limit to the opportunity, it seems. Now, does anyone still think the carriers are just like the post office?

*) Layer 7 is yet another such piece of tech lingo we are sure to become familiar with before long, like it or not.