Dog and pony show.
As I said in the recent BT AGM comments, this is nothing but a glorified dog and pony show. What's really on trial here is deep packet inspection, how it all ties in to privacy in more important ways than advertising, and the immature view which most politicians still hold of the internet.
Here's my take. Can *any* entity read your mail or tap your phone? No. Only the government can legally do that, and most often under the guise of national security, organized crime or narcotics. Most states even have laws against civilian parties recording phone conversations they hold with one another. Private detectives illegally tapping the phones of citizens has been a hot topic thanks to Anthony Pellicano. Yet, ISPs have begun to inspect packets and identify copyrighted material. Anonymous or not, the ISPs, as carriers of *my* data, have no right to examine that which they are only transporters of. Just as the telephone companies are only carriers of *my* phone and what I *say* is protected - a protection only broken by judge and warrant. Who determines where deep packet inspection begins and ends? I might have dirty little secrets that are mine and mine alone that the ISPs have no right to know nor utilize - blackmail's a dirty thing.
I view these hearings, held under the guise of "advertising" and "opt-in/opt-out" and "privacy" in the most superficial way imaginable, as a mostly Quiz Show-esque red herring. What's really on trial here is, again, deep packet inspection on a whole. Nothing will come of them except a big ole rubber stamp on the whole shebang. Legal deep packet inspection will become de facto law with few, if any, limitations. The ISPs will make money hand over fist just as the telcos have with the warrantless wiretapping scandal while the tattered corpse of privacy is raped and burned. Google's a second rate imitator compared with the crafty heads of old telephone and new fiber. The J Edgar Hoover comparison is damn right; he's just being compared with the wrong people.
Outlaw the whole fucking deal or await the consequences. Ever downloaded an mp3? Watched a copyrighted video on youtube? Written a dirty story? Dirty e-mail? Booked a second hotel during a business trip to spend time with a mistress? Looked at porn? Either carriers of our information - be it mail, voice or data - are forced to act as deaf, dumb and blind mailmen, only able to see, hear and comprehend when compelled to by warrant, or every bit of information we possess is going to be used against us.
Don't agree? Wait until the United States outlaws "explicit" porn like the United Kingdom and teenagers and sad men start getting letters from the FBI notifying them of their activities, simply for watching a bangbus video. It's a very, very real world. Or do we really think corporations and our government have our best interests at heart? They're all in it together. It's about time we opened our eyes and started calling the flea circus out for what it is.