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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Comments on “Politicians Considering Useless Browser Blocks Against 'Rogue' Sites”

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Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

harbingerofdoom (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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).

Griff (profile) says:

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.

Michael Lockyear (profile) says:

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!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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).

Josh Farry (user link) says:

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!

Kevin (profile) says:

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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