Blocking Content: Issues, Principles and Paths Forward ISOC

28 September 2011 - A Workshop on Security in Nairobi, Kenya


Policymakers around the globe are trying to identify appropriate national policy solutions to combat illegal online activities such as child pornography, violation of intellectual property rights and other cybercriminal activities. Some of these solutions propose leveraging global DNS to block or filter illegal content by mandating that DNS registries, registrars, or ISPs alter DNS behavior or modify DNS data.

How effective are these types of approaches in the short and long terms? What implications do they have for the global DNS, for the implementation of DNSSEC, and the overall functioning and evolution of the Internet? Are these the right solutions to the problem or are there other approaches that policy makers should be considering?



A brief substantive summary and the main events that were raised:
The participants of the workshop discussed different approaches, technical and non-technical, to addressing these issues, their effectiveness in the short and long terms. They explored implications they have for fundamental Internet technologies and protocols, such as DNS and DNSSEC, and the overall functioning and evolution of the Internet. Finally, they offered their views possible future steps and venues for developing solutions, national or international. The workshop was very well attended and there was very high level of engagement with the audience.


Conclusions and further comments:
Different views on the nature of the problem, approaches and solutions were discussed, with the following takeaways:
- for effective solutions all involved parties should be part of the development of the solution, without unnecessary duplication of efforts;
- the focus should be on the real problem, not symptoms
- cooperation within the Internet community works well and is effective; as far as private-public international cooperation is concerned, while there are good examples, it should be enhanced and made more effective
- severity of the illegal content may warrant different approaches
- extreme cases (e.g. child sexual abuse material) shouldn't be the basis for policy development
- in the developing world, blocking may result in "blanket" blocking, outcasting the whole communities, or countries

Most of the controversy happened in the area of DNS blocking