How much should a teleco know about the apps you are running on your mobile? In other words, should it be able to check if you are using Skype on your mobile?
According to KPN, 85 percent of the company’s customers who use a Google Android phone downloaded WhatsApp onto their handsets from last August through April. As a result, KPN’s revenue from text messaging, which had risen 8 percent in the first quarter of 2010 from a year earlier, declined 13 percent in the first quarter of this year.
At a presentation to investors in London on May 10, analysts questioned where KPN had obtained the rapid adoption figures for WhatsApp. A midlevel KPN executive explained that the operator had deployed analytical software which uses a technology called deep packet inspection to scrutinize the communication habits of individual users.
The disclosure, widely reported in the Dutch news media, set off an uproar that fueled the legislative drive, which in less than two months culminated in lawmakers adopting the Continent’s first net neutrality measures with real teeth.
We’d heard of DPI being used to detect grey market traffic in countries that try to maintain international gateways, but this is a new one.