Can we trust the authorities to use deep packet inspection appropriately?

Gotta have an ominous-looking photo to accompany stories like this

Do you remember how, earlier in the year, New York’s attorney general, Andrew Cuomo, set his sights on ISPs that provided Usenet access to their users? Cuomo argued that Usenet is a safe haven for child pornography and that it’s up to ISPs to shut off the spicket. We’ve discussed this at length, but now there’s another development you should be aware of: the use of deep packet inspection to monitor every single packet of data you send, making sure that you’re not accessing any sort of illicit material, here, child pornography.

MSNBC, of all outlets, has a truly remarkable report on how Cuomo, ISPs (including AOL), law enforcement and an Australian company are all involved in trying to eliminate the offending material from being traded online. There’s a lot of talk on whether or not deep packet inspection is appropriate here: true, no one wants to see child porn online, but who’s to say, some time from now, the authorities don’t decide to use the underlying technology for something else? Something along the lines of, “In order to keep you all safe from terrorists we’ll be deep pack inspecting everything from now on.” Then what if the likes of the RIAA/MPAA get involved—“Hey, we need to use this technology to protect our intellectual property.” Slippery slope, sure, but something to think about.