Deutsche Telekom offers anonymous surfing with IPv6

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  • Company introduces first multi-level data protection solution for new Internet standard
  • Users can decide on the level of data protection themselves
  • Important tool for informational self-determination

Deutsche Telekom is the first telecommunications company to develop a solution for anonymous surfing with the new Internet standard IPv6. The different elements of the IP addresses that will come into effect in the coming year will be reliably obscured using a three-level procedure. In this procedure, the user can decide for himself how anonymous he wishes to be when surfing the Internet, i.e., the extent to which he wishes to obscure the identity of his connected devices.

"We give our customers the option of deciding for themselves the extent to which the devices they use can be traced on the Internet, or not. With our solution, we want to set a new data protection standard for IPv6," says Claus-Dieter Ulmer, Privacy Officer at Deutsche Telekom. IP addresses are assigned when using the Internet and are a requirement for surfing the net.

The Internet standard currently used, IPv4, provides around four billion IP addresses. The Internet standard IPv6 that is currently being introduced will provide 340 sextillion addresses - enough to supply all conceivable devices around the world with IP addresses. It would be theoretically possible with this Internet standard for each device to permanently keep its address; however, at the same time this permanent address would render the corresponding device uniquely identifiable. This would result in a loss of anonymity and, in theory, would make it possible to create detailed profiles of users and their movements. Deutsche Telekom's solution model takes action against these consequences.

The new IPv6 addresses consist of two parts: The first part is the network ID or prefix that is allocated by the network provider. The second part is the section relating to the device. The Telekom solution tackles the two parts in three steps: Firstly, with regard to the network ID, the devices that are connected to a Telekom router are to regularly be assigned random new IP addresses. Secondly, Telekom will install a "privacy button" on the websites of customer routers it sells (Speedport). If the user clicks on this button, they will be issued with a new IPv6 prefix. This reassignment can take place manually or automatically at a specified time. Both these measures affect the first part of the IP address, the network ID.

Thirdly, on most modern devices the second part of the IP address, the section relating to the device, is automatically obscured using a random logic.

Deutsche Telekom is planning to roll out IPv6 in the course of the coming year and to inform its customers about the possibilities for anonymous surfing. Both the existing standard, IPv4, and IPv6 are to be used during the transition period.

About Deutsche Telekom Deutsche Telekom is one of the world’s leading integrated telecommunications companies with over 128 million mobile customers, around 35 million fixed-network lines and nearly 17 million broadband lines (as of September 30, 2011). The Group provides fixed-network, mobile communications, Internet and IPTV products and services for consumers, and ICT solutions for business and corporate customers. Deutsche Telekom is present in around 50 countries and has approximately 238,000 employees worldwide. The Group generated revenues of EUR 62.4 billion in the 2010 financial year – more than half of it outside Germany (as of December 31, 2010).