Dutch ISP KPN admit to Deep Packet Inspection

A while back KPN launched a few new subscription options that required customers to pay extra for VOIP and Chat applications on their mobile phone network. This raised several worried inquiries as to how KPN thought to distinguish the traffic so that it could determine if customers were using these apps. KPN then told everybody not to worry; that they would only charge people and not close down services, but kept silent about the pertinent question on determining customer traffic.

Well, on may 10th this year at an investor meeting KPN’s Director of Mobile Marco Visser played a hefty game of braggadocio by openly admitting to the use of Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) on its networks and being the first operator in the world to do so. DPI essentially means that the operator can now see each packet’s origin and destination as well as its content, making it quite the violation of your privacy. Part of that revelation can be seen here on this video stream (fast forward to 3.33m). Proudly mr. Visser admits to having actual penetration figures of popular apps such as WhatsApp, an application that enables users to text and chat using an internet connection (which undermines pay-per-message services such as texting). He adds that they can also determine VOIP usage from their customers and that KPN intends to charge a fee for such services.

That such techniques are a blatant violation of Dutch privacy laws are obvious. Dutch Digital Civil Rights movement Bits of Freedom  (BoF) was shocked to hear about this and in a press statement it urges politicians to bring the (legal) pain to KPN for its actions. What completely befuddles me is how such a high-ranking official can be so proud about violating its customers in every way! Not only is it obviously illegal, its such a bottom-feeding tactic that im surprised nobody has been lynched yet. Its a bit like the record labels using the RIAA to sue downloaders because MP3’s have made CD’s a dead medium and they’re seeing a decline in sales. As a Dutch citizen and (forced) KPN cellular network user I can only hope that KPN is punished so severely that no other operator will ever try this again.