Profiling the Profilers: Deep Packet Inspection and Behavioral Advertising in Europe and the United States

Title: Profiling the Profilers: Deep Packet Inspection and Behavioral Advertising in Europe and the United States
Format: Working Paper
Publication Date: September 2012
Description: Deep packet inspection (DPI) allows Internet service providers (ISPs) to monitor the content of data packets in real-time, including analysis and categorization of the web sites users visit. This paper focuses on the use of DPI for customer profiling and the way the application of this technology has intersected with debates over online behavioral advertising and privacy in Europe and the USA. …The paper presents a five stage process that describes the overall development in more abstract terms, a process that we have found repeatedly in similar case studies where DPI technologies have been applied: 1) secret deployment, 2) public disclosure, 3) civil activism, 4) political proceedings, 5) legal proceedings. This framework gives a general understanding of the interaction of technical, economic and institutional factors that are at work when politically contested technologies that might have a disruptive potential enter the realm of the Internet. In this case, as in many others, the analysis shows how the notions of “notification” and “informed consent” so crucial to privacy law have failed to bridge the gap between the privacy expectations of Internet users and the formal legal definition applied by the courts. To sum up, rather than analyzing the wider ecology of online behavioral advertising, this paper examines in particular the use and politics of DPI in online advertising and what effects public pressure, regulatory actions and judicial and policy-making proceedings had on those deployments.
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Citation: SSRN. Publisher's Site.
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Related Departments:
  • School of Public Policy