Byron Holland, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), wrote an article that was published in this week’s Montreal Gazette, which warns that the Quebec government's plan to instate DNS-blocking procedures for illegal online gambling sites in competition with its exclusive Espacejeux enterprise contains social and technical issues.
"While this practice, called Domain Name System (DNS) blocking, is not uncommon - Turkey blocked Twitter and YouTube leading up to an election; it forms a part of China’s Great Firewall, and it was central to the now defunct Stop Online Piracy Act - it raises a number of social and technical concerns," Holland observed, noting that this tactic is rarely effective and simply makes sites more difficult to access.
"Anyone who watches U.S. Netflix from Canada - and there’s a lot of you - knows how easy it is to bypass IP blocking, a similar form of Internet filtering. A quick search will turn up hundreds of services to avoid DNS blocking. It’s a practice that didn’t work in Turkey, and it won’t work for the Quebec government either," wrote Holland.
Holland states that blocking involves censorship and presents a threats to freedom of expression and internet security and stability.
"The domain name system (DNS) is a fundamental part of the successful operation of the Internet. It is a global database that translates domain names (like cira.ca or lotoquebec.com) into the numeric Internet addresses used by computers," he said.
"DNS blocking interferes with that process. What the Quebec government is proposing is to block the resolution of particular domain names, those that host gambling sites not run by Loto-Québec. Many DNS experts believe that modifying the operation of the DNS through practices like DNS blocking could have long-term negative impacts on the stability, security and reliability of the Internet."
"The Internet we access in Canada is the same as the Internet in most of the rest of the world. The cira.ca domain name resolves to the same website in Montreal as it does in Kuala Lumpur or San Francisco. Practices like DNS blocking are a step toward fragmenting the Internet. It undermines the very structure of the Internet," Holland warned.
"I encourage the Quebec government to not punish the Internet for the actions of a few people. The consequences of engaging in DNS blocking are not worth the gains it expects to see, especially in terms of the security vulnerabilities users may face."