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Censorship: A Threat to the Stability and Security of the DNS?

Censorship practices by governments and other private actors are becoming more increasingly more sophisticated, and their effects are increasingly being felt globally.

A case in point, the YouTube incident in Pakistan was a recent example affecting both users and the DNS at a national and global level. Likely other incidents will occur in the near future. As such, I believe censorship should be considered as a threat to the stability and security of the DNS.

In the context of Internet governance discussions, I believe the issue should be raised both at ICANN and the Internet Governance forum. Do others agree?

By Robert Guerra, Managing Director, Privaterra

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Patrick Vande Walle  –  Jun 1, 2008 6:42 PM


The post you are referring to makes it clear this is not a DNS issue, but a BGP one.

Robert Guerra  –  Jun 1, 2008 7:30 PM

Patrick, so you think its is - just a BGP issue ? or something more nuanced, that should also be brought up by ICANN / At-large & the IGF?

Ginger Paque  –  Jun 1, 2008 7:40 PM

While I cannot define whether it is specifically a DNS issue or just BGP, I do think censorship should be brought up at ICANN before it becomes a seriously divisive problem, and it seems obvious this is an IGF issue in a number of areas, openness and access being the most obvious. I think it will be discussed at the IGF, but may need support before it will be dealt with in ICANN. How can this be inserted into the ICANN process, Robert?

Simon Waters  –  Jun 1, 2008 10:23 PM

As others said the article describes a BGP problem (not a DNS problem).

Hijacking IP space is a problem - the issue is people believed Pakistan telecomms announcement of routes for space it isn’t responsible for.

I do DNS, not BGP, but this just looks like a massive cock-up by Pakistan telecomm and the companies that work with them.

Of course the other problem is corrupt and broken court systems who think that regulating the Internet in a narrow way is technically possible, and that supporting a religion is a suitable behaviour for a court system (welcome back to the dark ages).

The video that was banned is back on YouTube and is not particularly offensive as far as I can see (if it is indeed the same video). There were rumours at the time that this was just a cover to suppress vote rigging videos on Youtube.

Rose Gill  –  Jun 3, 2008 5:47 PM

Hello Robert and all,

I was following the discussions going on the Youtube blockade by Pakistan with great interest and concern at the same time. We have been experiencing censorship of Internet on regular basis. This problem can arise anywhere in the world and particularly in countries with weak governing mechanisms or political systems and where authorities do not have to give an explanation or answer to the affected users.

About Robert’s suggestions on whether these issues should be raised at the ICANN or IGF;

ICANN and IGF should both be used for discussions on censorship by the governments versus freedom of expression.

Seeing the different roles of both these bodies, ICANN can play a vital role in working towards policies that the governments will have to take into consideration in future.  In my opinion, the governments involvement and participation at IGF is quite dis-satisfactory as far as countries like Pakistan is concerned. There was no government representation in Rio from our ministry of IT except for the Pakistan ambassador to Brazil. This calls for more representation and commitment towards
decisions at the International forums by the governments so that they are not just aware of the updates and changes but also adapt to the culture of introduction of new policies related to ICTs in the existing rigid systems that promote strict policies of censorship in their countries.

Besides a policy making body, ICANN is a better choice for now also due to the fact that next meetings of ICANN (Paris and Egypt) are taking place before the IGF so it will make a better pathway for the topic’s highlighting at IGF.

Best wishes,
Rose Gill

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