Politicians Considering Useless Browser Blocks Against 'Rogue' Sites

from the yeah,-that'll-work dept

For all the talk of domain seizures and DNS blocks and filters, now some politicians in Europe are considering proposals for browser-based blocks of websites that law enforcement dubs as dedicated to infringing activities. Of course, there are two key problems with this. First, it won't work. It won't take long for anyone who cares to be able to get around such blocks. Second, of course, is that there will be significant "false positives," where legitimate speech is "blocked" for those who don't get around such measures. At some point, the industry and politicians are going to have to realize that these methods don't work, and it'll be time for the industry to finally suck it up and adapt to a changing marketplace.


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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 3:40am

    And who, pray tell, is going to make sure EVERY FUCKING BROWSER complies to this? Do they even know how many browsers are there? What about if I make my own browser (which isn't terribly difficult)?

    This plan has so many problems that it can only be classified as completely retarded.

    You can't solve a problem by closing your eyes and pretending that it does not exist. If you believe that you can, then you have already lost.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 3:42am

    my question is how are they going to force the consumer to change from there old browser to the one that has such feature.

     

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    Nicedoggy, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 4:02am

    They should try buying a magic wand and waiving it around maybe that would do the trick, also would be cheaper and would give the same results.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 4:04am

    They must have amnesia.

    Have they any clue just how many browsers there already are out there? If they do, how about how many previous versions are still on the net of each of those browsers without such "browser blocks"? Even if everyone started making these newer browsers with that "added" feature, who would want it?

    I would be most suspicious of any altered browser not having some sort of phone home in it.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 4:07am

    Working around this "feature"

    If this is the same as the malware blocking, it is very easy to work around.

    First, have they ever seen these malware warning pages? You always have a button to ignore the warning and go ahead.

    Second, did they know there is a checkbox in the browser settings to disable this feature?

    And on one of the most popular browsers (Mozilla Firefox), it is free software/open source software, meaning that even if you force enabled the feature and disabled the button to ignore it, the user can simply download the source code, comment out the feature, and recompile.

    And if the user does not have the know-how or patience to recompile, someone can recompile and distribute the resulting product. The license explicitly allows it, and changing to one which does not allow doing so not only is not acceptable (it would mean the software is no longer free software/open source software) but also would cause people to fork the source code (forks have happened for less than this; see http://www.dwheeler.com/essays/gpl-compatible.html#xfree86 for an example).

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 4:08am

    Sure, just demand that open-source browsers like Chrome implement an arbitrary blocklist that nobody wants. It's not like people could just download the source code, edit out the unwanted feature, and compile/release the modified version. Oh, wait...

     

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  7.  
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    abc gum, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 4:47am

    If such a browser were to exist, and it also had the malware warning feature, would it report itself?

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 4:48am

    you haven't yet met the awesomely insidious power of denial mr mike

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 5:31am

    Re:

    I think that's the real goal of this type of legislation: to eliminate all but a few browsers. They're creating the usual market oligarchy by fiat.

    This type of legislation also has the of knocking out open-source browsers, a beneficial side effect to Microsoft.

    I predict a visible slowing of browser innovation should this pass. I also predict a market for browser protection mechanisms, rather like the market for "anti-malware" for Windows computers. Also like the "anti-malware" for Windows market, I predict a not too secure future.

     

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  10.  
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    Griff (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 5:39am

    If they had any sense...

    ... they'd mandate that ISP's did this at the DNS server level. I'd bet 90+ % of average Joes use their ISP's DNS and have no idea what it is.

    (Well, except in the UK where TalkTalk's DNS goes down so often half the population have learnt about OpenDNS)

    Of course, this would allow the technically capable to get round it easily, but hey, so would what they are suggesting.

    The difference is that mandating a blacklist on an ISP DNS server is actually feasible and would not attract so much attention - making the world and his wife change browsers isn't.

     

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    Michael Lockyear (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 6:34am

    They could force Microsoft to alter the EU version of Windows so that only "authorized" browsers will work.

    They have already forced Microsoft to offer Opera (and other browsers) in the EU version of Windows, so this would not be an unreasonable move for these guys. After all, feeble minded Europeans (who apparently don't know how to download their own choice of browser) need to be protected against all the dangerous websites containing uncensored and pirated (shudder) music and video!

     

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  12.  
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    Josh Farry, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 6:41am

    Stupid yes, but it looks like they're trying to keep up with the times...

    Although it is quite stupid and pointless, we've had our fair share of problems in Australia relating to blocking websites as well. Fortunately for us, we have a complete idiot in the form of Stephen Conroy, for our web censoring: http://www.minister.dbcde.gov.au/

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gl7X6peh-w he can't even grasp ENGLISH! What the hell kind of hope does our broadband infrastructure have with people like these running the show!

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 6:53am

    Us? Have to deal with competition? Not if Ben Franklin and his thousand friends have anything to say about it...

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 7:26am

    Re:

    They could force Microsoft to alter the EU version of Windows so that only "authorized" browsers will work.

    How, in the name of $DEITY, are they going to distinguish a "browser" from another kind of program?

    I have even seen non-browser programs which happened to have a built-in browser for some reason (to read help files, for instance).

     

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  15.  
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    harbingerofdoom (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 7:28am

    Re:

    This plan has so many problems that it can only be classified as completely retarded.

    isnt it sad that you can replace the word retarded with 'government sanctioned' and the meaning is exactly the same?

     

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    harbingerofdoom (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 7:35am

    Re:

    in a word? they cant. (okay that was two words)

    attempting to force a client side solution is about the single most idiotic idea that you could ever come up with.
    server side solutions will not work and unless you can lock down the client side so tightly that you cant reinstall the OS to begin with. there is not a single clientside based solution that comes anywhere near even 10% effective.

    the only people that wouldnt be able to get around that are the people that they are not after in the first place.

     

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  17.  
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    harbingerofdoom (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 7:36am

    Re: Re:

    bah! that should say 'client side solutions will not work unles..."

    i need more coffee

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 7:44am

    Good, let them waste their time with impossible to implement ideas such as this.

    It's unbelievable how desperate they are. They're just grasping at anything now.

     

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  19.  
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    Kevin (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 7:54am

    Considering the slippery slope which we find ourselves on with "free speech" on the internet, I am beginning to wonder once this legislation or legislation like this does get passed. How long before the "infringing" activity goes from downloading the latest episode of House to acts like simply discussing the impact that laws like this have on freedom itself. With the ever tightening grip given to the content industry seems like it would only be a matter of time before people begin to attack sites like Techdirt for even suggesting that what they are doing is wrong.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 8:16am

    Re:

    polititians *never* have a clue, regardless of the topic.

    They have no oppinion either, they just reiterate what they are paid to say by lobbyists.

    All of them are corrupt criminals.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 9:13am

    You said "tightening grip"?

    "The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers."

     

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  22.  
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    pixelpusher220 (profile), Apr 11th, 2011 @ 9:14am

    Re: Working around this "feature"

    You're assuming they can even use a computer.

    John McCain admitted during the last presidential campaign, he has staff members who 'read' his email to him...

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous American, Apr 11th, 2011 @ 12:29pm

    Re: You said "tightening grip"?

    Despite the defeat of the empire, I noticed this didn't help Alderaan any.

     

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  24.  
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    Michael Lockyear (profile), Apr 12th, 2011 @ 1:02am

    Just guessing here...mandatory firewall with a whitelist of acceptable browsers / other software. Such a prohibition would obviously not just apply to browsers but any software that is used to connect to the Internet (would defeat the purpose otherwise).

     

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