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18 October 2012, 12:27

ICANN: Government representatives take a critical look at DNS blocking

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ICANN logo At the 45th ICANN meeting, UK and Dutch representatives have proposed developing an ICANN Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) recommendation on the poor cost effectiveness of Domain Name System (DNS) blocking. In response to a report on content blocking via DNSPDF by an ICANN Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC) working group, UK representative Mark Carvell said that his "general deduction from this [is] that the harms outweigh the benefits". He adding that "it is an ineffective tool, so don't do it".

The chair of the SSAC, Patrik Fälström, presented the report that had been requested by the government representatives. Among the unwanted side effects, Fälström listed typographical errors, overblocking, the loss of optimised access times through Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) and difficulties with the DNSSEC security technology. Governments must be aware of these side effects when regulating the implementation of the DNS filter technology, he said. The chair added that, although there is very little reliable information on DNS blocking – for example, the SSAC was unable to find out about the announced blocking of .xxx porn domains – it's clear that many governments already use, or are considering the use of DNS blocking.

The Spanish representative explained that her country's internet service providers are concerned about the increasing number of regulations for blocking DNS addresses. There is a trend of using DNS blocking to combat copyright infringements, she said. Although the technical disadvantages are known, there is no other fast response mechanism for pages outside of a country's national borders, added the representative. The Indian representative asked the experts to suggest measures that can be used instead of DNS blocking. Fälström recommended that governments improve their international cooperation so that unwanted web sites can be blocked at the source. Specific services should be blocked instead of domain names, added the SSAC chair.

(Monika Ermert / crve)

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