Experts Point Out Uselessness of Anti-Piracy DNS Filter

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There’s been a lot of talk about the PROTECT IP Act and domain seizures this week.

Lawmakers and the entertainment industries praise the anti-piracy initiatives, but not everyone is convinced.

A group of DNS experts has now joined the opposition with a new whitepaper.

In it, they discuss how DNS filtering is not only very ineffective, but also a threat to the security of the Internet.

ARS has a great writeup on the paper.

Below is a relevant excerpt of the actual report highlighting the ineffectiveness.

“The IP number for the website of The Pirate Bay, a well-known peer-to-peer (P2P) organization that has often been connected to infringement allegations, is 194.71.107.15. Simply typing this number instead of www.piratebay.org into a browser’s address line will take a user to the site. To avoid having to remember the number each time, PCs can easily be configured to bypass DNS filters.”

“Effectively, all systems have within them something called a hosts file, which is in text format. After simple editing of a hosts file with the additional line “www.thepiratebay.org 194.71.107.15”, the DNS will no longer be consulted.”

“Many users will not have the expertise necessary to rewrite a host file. On the other hand, individuals who are skeptical of this potential for evasion should consider that software developers already are working on software to evade DNS filtration. A group calling itself “MafiaaFire” has developed a Firefox browser plugin that automatically redirects users requesting a seized domain to the desired site’s new domain or server IP address. Infringers are almost certain to develop similar plugins that skip the DNS entirely, perhaps simply by putting links on their pages which offer to make necessary system changes with a click of the mouse.”

“This reality leads to one conclusion: PROTECT IP’s DNS filtering will be evaded through trivial and often automated changes through easily accessible and installed software plugins. Given this strong potential for evasion, the long-term benefits of using mandated DNS filtering to combat infringement seem modest at best.”

“In addition, if the U.S. mandates and thereby legitimizes DNS filtering, more countries may impose their own flavor of DNS filtering. As this practice becomes more widespread, the extent to which a particular name is reachable will become a function of on which network and in which country a user sits, compromising the universality of DNS naming and thereby the “oneness” of the Internet. This situation will in turn increase the cost and challenge of developing new technologies, and reduce the reliability of the Internet as a whole. If the Internet moves towards a world in which every country is picking and choosing which domains to resolve and which to filter, the ability of American technology innovators to offer products and services around the world will decrease.”


The Whitepaper

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