“Great Firewall of Britain” Proposed

/ 4 years ago

“Great Firewall of Britain” Proposed

A proposal by the UK internet watchdog National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to filter internet content at the DNS level has been dubbed the “Great Firewall of Great Britain” due to the idea’s similarity to China’s infamous draconian national firewall, colloquially known as the Great Firewall of China.

The head of NCSC revealed at the Billington Cyber Security Summit (BCSS) in Washington DC that the UK national firewall is currently being explored as “a flagship project,” using language that evokes China’s Ministry of Public Security, which is responsible for the Great Firewall of China.

“We’re exploring a flagship project on scaling up DNS filtering: what better way of providing automated defences at scale than by the major private providers effectively blocking their customers from coming into contact with known malware and bad addresses?” Ciaran Martin, CEO of NCSC, told BCSS attendees last week.

An understandable concern, in theory, but who gets to decide what a “bad address” looks like? It could be anything from a malicious site to an encrypted communications line, the latter being something the current Conservative government has expressed a strong desire to ban. Already, internet rights groups are voicing concerns that a firewall that works on the DNS level would be open to abuse by those who control it.

“Even if we trust ISPs and governments not to abuse their extending powers of censorship, we ought to be worried that GCHQ is proposing at least one security measure which undermines international efforts to improve the integrity of the internet and thereby its security,” writes Jim Pollack of the Open Rights Group.

“It is outrageous,” Michael Harris, adviser to privacy group Don’t Spy On US, told The Guardian. “It is what China is up to. This is taking place in a context in which the government is clamping down on freedom of expression and extending surveillance.”

Image courtesy of 422South.

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