Something of a battle royale is brewing in the UK over exerting control on (encrypted) DNS and ultimately, on censorship on the web.
The DNS stands for “the Domain Name System” – a protocol that makes sure any numerical IP addresses are “translated” into a global and worldwide human-readable directory service. In fact, the DNS has been described as “the phone-book of the internet.”
But it is by and large unencrypted, and currently at the mercy of ISPs (internet service providers) – when it comes to affording them the powers over many forms of censorship, including, perhaps most innocuously of all, “parental controls and network performance testing,” the UK-based independent ISP review website ISPreview says.
The DNS has certainly been a key piece in the makeup of the web ever since the web came to be, in the 1980s, and this remains true to this day.
And the way it works now entrusts a user’s online activities and presence, with all that it entails, to their internet service providers (ISPs), and whatever entity these companies choose to be beholden to.
But if the integrity of the service itself is called into question, another piece in the puzzle then becomes: which existential problem would you rather face off: the plague, or the small pox? Namely – a government, or a major tech behemoth, such as Google, meddling in your online activities and effectively vying for control over your privacy and data?
Google now wants to implement DNS over encrypted and secure HTTPS (DoH) by DNS requests via the encrypted HTTPS protocol – that the report said could remove a lot of control over traffic from ISPs. Not only Google’s own Chrome, but also Mozilla’s Firefox, are “planning to introduce their own DoH solution,” the website said.
But an anonymous government source said this would hamper their ability to investigate such transgressions as pedophilia and terrorism – while at the same time allowing Google to use DoH “to amass vast detail on people’s browsing habits and device usage.”
However, ISPreview noted it the report that Google “can already do this without DoH.”
And while DNS-blocking – such as would be called for to implement such initiatives as UK’s “porn ban” has in the past been easy to bypass via third-party DNS providers – the website said that this time Chrome and Firefox might end up implementing their own DoH solutions – at which point there would be “precious little that ISPs can do about that, save for perhaps making more extensive use of expensive Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) technology, but even this has its limits and problems.”
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