Broadband News

EU Commission to monitor Virgin DPI trials

The European Commission has announced it will closely monitor planned trials of deep packet inspection (DPI) which will be used by Virgin Media to monitor the amount of illegal file sharing on its network. No personal or identifying data will be collected or stored by the Virgin system so users will not see action coming from this, but the system could potentially be modified in the future to support this.

Privacy International does not see DPI as a legal thing for Virgin to do, and has advised that it would lodge a criminal complaint against Virgin if it goes ahead with the trial as it believes that under RIPA, ISPs don't have the right to monitor communications without consent or a court order. Similar complaints happened when BT ran it's trial of Phorm, and the City of London Police did not deem that any wrong doing had occurred. The European Commission weren't impressed with the way the trial was run and opened its own investigation in to how the UK are implementing European data protection laws.

The Commission have so far identified three gaps in UK law. Firstly, there is no independent national authority to supervise the interception of communications, required under the ePrivacy and Data Protection Directive. The RIPA act authorises interception of communications where the party has reasonable grounds for believing that consent has been given which doesn't comply with EU rules defining consent. The RIPA act also only prohibits interception where it intentionally occurred, rather than the EU law that requires Member States to prohibit any unlawful interception.

Whilst Virgin may or may not fall foul of current UK law as it stands, they may do so of EU law, but until the UK pull their foot out and fix things up to EU standards, there may not be any sanctions except financial penalties to the UK government for not conforming to EU law.


Maybe the EU has more sense than our batty Dark Lord and they will stop him before he breaks the internet. It think Virgin is only doing this on his behalf. I don't see the point in throwing millions into the digital engagement agenda to get people online to use Egov when on the other hand they are putting people off and scaring folk, spying and trying to control something in this way. When will they learn, they can't control the internet?

  • cyberdoyle
  • over 11 years ago

The upshot may be a banning of DPI at all.

The line between an ISP knowing XGbps of its traffic is P2P related and actually managing it is very slim. Who knows what sort of reports are delivered to network managers each month.

A ban on DPI would mean some ISP's business models would fail, and prices would go up with many providers. In essence we pay for the network expansion, or enjoy the effects of more natural contention.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • over 11 years ago

"the City of London Police did not deem that any wrong doing had occurred."

Not really surprised given the Police's abuse of stop and search powers. Any further technological development to help snoop into people's lives and limit their freedom is probably welcomed with open arms.

/cynicism off

  • migrater
  • over 11 years ago

More and more of these issues highlight the need for the Information Commisioners office to play a part in protecting the privacy of people in this country. A recent programme on CCTV highlighted the huge lack in protection from corporate spying.

  • Capn
  • over 11 years ago

Monitoring the monitors incase their monitoring has an effect on privacy. Whos going to monitor the monitors, monitors, monitoring ;)

  • over 11 years ago

As a great admirer of Sir Richard Branson I expect more from him and his companies. As a Knight of The Realm he should be charged with the responsibility, more than most, to uphold our civil liberties on behalf of the Queen. If he is prepared to subvert our freedoms then please can he give back the Knighthood.

  • thermalsocks
  • over 11 years ago

Richard Branson basically has nothing to do with Virgin media anymore

  • over 11 years ago

Illegal file sharing means someone isn't paying
for what they are using. Guess who has to pick up the bill on THAT? Let the monitoring begin,
AND then lets have the thieving b......ds Done for it. Pay your own way, don't make me have to pay for someone else's thieving.

  • roj2003
  • over 11 years ago


Using similar logic VM & Detica should be made to pay for copying/processing my Information/Intellectual Property whilst it is crossing their network infrastructure!

  • GoodLaugh
  • over 11 years ago

@roj2003 best you learn what copyright infringment and theft is before you call anyone a thieving b.....d, at the moment to be polite you seem a little confused.

  • over 11 years ago

I have taken on VM (for the speed they offer)for my Broadband and this DPI really aggravates me.

Is there ANY provision in the privacy bill that allows the ISP's to DPI our communications. Has ever happened to the post (except through Court order) to intercept our mail and again on our telephone calls (with provision of the above) been intercepted.

Let Mandy and his brown envelope rot in jail

  • Fixer109
  • over 11 years ago

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