Mozilla: ISPs Are Lying About Encrypted DNS, Should Have Privacy Practices Investigated

from the ill-communication dept

In a bid to avoid losing access to the cash cow that is your daily browsing data, ISPs like Comcast have been lying about Google and Mozilla's quest to encrypt DNS data. The effort would effectively let Chrome and Mozilla users opt in to DNS encryption -- making your browser data more secure from spying and monetization -- assuming your DNS provider supports it. Needless to day, telecom giants that have made billions of dollars monetizing your every online behavior for decades now (and routinely lying about it) don't much like that.

As a result, Comcast, AT&T, and others have been trying to demonize the Google and Mozilla efforts any way they can, from insisting the move constitutes an antitrust violation on Google's part (it doesn't), to saying it's a threat to national security (it's not), to suggesting it even poses a risk to 5G deployments (nah).

Mozilla this week came out with a letter not only taking aim at those claims, but urging Congress to investigate telecom's long history of privacy problems:

"Our recent experience in rolling out DNS over HTTPs (DoH)—an important privacy and security protection for consumers—has raised questions about how ISPs collect and use sensitive user data in their gatekeeper role over internet usage," the letter, signed by Marshall Erwin, senior director of trust and security and Mozilla, reads. "With this in mind, a congressional examination of ISP practices may uncover valuable insights, educate the public, and help guide continuing efforts to draft consumer privacy legislation."

While there's obviously plenty of perfectly legitimate criticism of Silicon Valley giants like Facebook and Google, we've been noting how telecom lobbyists have been quietly co-opting this backlash to help the telecom sector. So far you'd have to view these efforts as successful; while the government hyperventilates about Facebook and whether it should be broken up and heavily regulated, telecom has convinced lawmakers to effectively obliterate all oversight of telecom, despite the sector having historically been every bit as terrible as Facebook on the subjects of privacy, consumer rights, and competition.

As a result there are a few lawmakers (Marsha Blackburn comes quickly to mind) who claim to be utterly incensed at Facebook's behavior, but have chosen to give telecom a free pass. Mozilla's letter urges Congress to, you know, stop doing that if they want to be taken seriously:

"We believe that more information regarding ISP practices could be useful to the Committee as it continues its deliberations on this front, and we encourage the Committee to publicly probe current ISP data collection and use policies."

As we look to craft what the privacy standards and guidelines of tomorrow look like, it's another reminder of how focusing too exclusively on the missteps of Silicon Valley giants obscures the fact that these problems aren't just exclusive to "big tech." Mozilla's spot on when it notes that privacy solutions that don't consider telecom aren't much of a solution in the first place.

Filed Under: congress, dns over https, doh, encrypted dns, privacy, security
Companies: at&t, comcast, google, mozilla, verizon

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Nov 2019 @ 10:11am

    Friday deep thoughts:

    The trick is: convincing people that online anonymity, online privacy, actually exist. Actual privacy is the fallacy.

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