Veillances: Protocols & Network Surveillance

Posted: 14 Mar 2013 Last revised: 31 Mar 2013

Date Written: March 13, 2013


Multi protocol label switching (MPLS) is a type of data traffic routing protocol for core and wireless internet networks which originated in the 1990s. Its usage has grown enormously in next generation networking as it is considered superior in many ways to traditional routing for its traffic control and engineering capabilities especially in 4G LTE wireless networks. This paper discusses ramifications of MPLS routing and deep packet inspection (DPI) in the growing area of end user privacy and policy based networking. DPI examines information not only in layers 2 through 4 of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model, but also layers 5 through 7, as required. DPI performs an analysis of the packet in order to identify applications associated with the traffic. MPLS traffic is ‘typed’ at present into four to six classes of service (CoS) to denote the type of data but many more CoS classes are possible and here is where further differentiation of data traffic type and service are conceivable. As argued in this paper privacy concerns arise from the fact that the end user IP number, their type of device, geographic location and type of data traffic [or application in use at any particular point in time] are being aggregated together. Other policy based networking technologies have emerged such as software defined networking (SDN) OpenFlow; yet much of the detail in SDN still remains to be resolved. Privacy issues raised in this paper relate to SDN as many of the routing practices and usage of end user metadata are the same. The effort to provide end users with security for their ecommerce or other applications may require new forms of protection for end user privacy.

Keywords: multi protocol label switching policy based networks, deep packet inspection, privacy

Suggested Citation

Paterson, Nancy, Veillances: Protocols & Network Surveillance (March 13, 2013). Available at SSRN:

Nancy Paterson (Contact Author)

OCAD University ( email )

100 McCaul St
Toronto, Ontario M5T 1W1

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