Well, they haven’t started yet, but they’re planning to. And a human rights watchdog ain’t happy about it.
Virgin Media is planning to start using Cview, a bit of software that would allow it to analyse the online doings of its customers. The company wants to find out how many of its subscribers are participating in that most ancient of internet traditions, illegally sharing music via peer-to-peer sites.
Privacy International is raising a fuss about this. Head of ethical networks, Alexander Hanff, told the BBC: “Under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) intercepting communications is a criminal offence regardless of what you do with the data.” PI has asked the European Commission to look into the matter.
Virgin Media has responded that the software won’t violate its customers’ privacy or identify individuals. “CView works at a core-network level, and simply analyses, entirely anonymously, the percentage of data that flows across the network that is copyrighted and being shared unlawfully,” said Virgin Media spokeswoman Emma Hutchinson. She added that “at no point will we collect or share customer data as part of this trial.”
When this plan kicks off (if it kicks off at all) remains unknown.