Paul Vixie on the harm caused by mandated content blocking

Paul Vixie, chairman and chief scientist of Internet Systems Consortium, provides a good discussion of the harm that will be done by mandated content blocking. While the main subject of the article is COICA (Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act), the legislative bill in US, he also touches upon the blocking of TLDs, as is the case with ‘.xxx’.

Countries who want to block certain new IANA TLD’s (and here I’m thinking of .XXX) could do this in-country and force alignment by mandating the use of that country’s DNS system by all in-country ISP’s and enterprises and end users. But even as much chaos as this would create, it’s still not the worst outcome from COICA.

My greatest worry is what people will do to bypass all this junk or to prevent other people from bypassing it. My fellow humans are a proud and occasionally adversarial bunch and they don’t like being told what they can’t do or what they have to do. The things we’ll all be doing to bypass the local DNS restrictions imposed by our coffee shops or our governments or our ISPs will break everything. Where this ends is with questions like “which DNS system are you using?” and “which DNS systems is your TLD in?” which in other words means that where this ends is a world without universal naming. We adopted DNS to get universal naming, and today we have universal naming except inside Network Address Translation (NAT) borders. Universal naming is one of the reasons for the Internet’s success and dominance. If we’re going to start doing stuff like COICA then we should have stuck with a “hosts file” on every Internet connected computer and let every connected device decide for itself what names it recognized.

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