AT&T Video Snooping Could Juice VPN Industry

Will AT&T try to put the lid on its subscribers’ illegal video downloads? The Wall Street Journal reports that AT&T is investing in Vobile, a California-based company whose “VideoDNA” software tracks which videos are being transmitted over a network. In theory, AT&T, the largest U.S. high-speed Internet provider, could use the software to block its subscribers’ illegal file transfers. (Note: Peter Burrows from BusinessWeek writes to tell us that he wrote the same story a week before. You can read his here.)

We doubt that AT&T’s efforts — or Comcast’s reported meddling with peer-to-peer transfers — will curb piracy. More likely: companies selling VPN, or “virtual private network” services, like Relakks, VPNOut, and VPNTunnel, will see a boost to their business.

If you’re using VPN, your Internet traffic is encrypted and sent securely through a network “tunnel” to a VPN server — fingerprinting won’t work. Companies, universities, the government, etc. use VPN so off-site employees can securely access internal servers and sensitive data. But privacy-obsessed broadband users — or serious video pirates — could also use VPN to keep their ISP’s prying eyes away from their downloads.

See Also:
Will Comcast’s BitTorrent-Throttle Choke P2P CDNs?

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