I was planning on reviewing Parler on my quest to look for Facebook alternatives, and then Parler essentially disappeared. At least you could find websites that hosted articles about Parler disappearing. But what if you plugged in a website, and it never appeared? Think that couldn’t happen?
Think again. For 2021, I’m predicting that the next big thing in censorship will be DNS censorship.
DNS stands for Domain Name System. It’s a process that your web browser uses to turn the website that you type in (say, gab.com) into an IP address that the computer can actually use to route traffic. Your web browser sends a request to a DNS resolver, which talks to a name server to find the address for the website you requested. This DNS resolver then sends that IP address to your browser, which then lets your browser get the information you requested from the website. DNS resolution is one of those background tasks that just sort of works without you thinking about it.
You shouldn’t assume this is going to work well in the future. With Parler’s obvious targeting by Apple, Google and Amazon all at once, if you had doubts about FAANG (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google) censorship, your doubts should be cleared up now. But imagine if you attempted to go to the “next great conservative website,” only to find it was “down.” No matter what you enter into your browser, it never resolved the website.
Like most people, you’re probably using Google’s public DNS server, 126.96.36.199, and its alternate, 188.8.131.52, without even knowing it. That means that any website you enter into the address bar of your browser has to get approval from Google to be shown to you. If you don’t think that’s a problem, read Google’s own FAQ page:
Does Google Public DNS offer the ability to block or filter out unwanted sites?
Google Public DNS is purely a DNS resolution and caching server; it does not perform any blocking or filtering of any kind, except that it may not resolve certain domains in extraordinary cases if we believe this is necessary to protect Google’s users from security threats. But we believe that blocking functionality is usually best performed by the client. If you are interested in enabling such functionality, you should consider installing a client-side application or browser add-on for this purpose.From https://developers.google.com/speed/public-dns/faq
“…protect Google’s users from security threats.” Hmmm. Like the Capitol protests? Or “domestic terrorism?”
I’m skeptical, and while there isn’t a lot of evidence its happening now, I think its the next obvious web censorship step against anything conservative on the internet.
Fortunately there are options. CloudFlare right now seems to be sticking to neutrality, and has been concerned for years about web censorship. Their DNS servers are 184.108.40.206 and 220.127.116.11, and I recommend you setup your computer to use them before Google’s DNS server finds a way to blacklist your conservative websites in order to “ensure the security and continuing stability” or “protect users from security threats,” for a “safe and secure society” of course.
PC Mag and Toms Hardware both have easy to use guides on changing your DNS server. I also recommend you log into your router and change the DNS server there. It’s a small pain, but unless you want websites to suddenly disappear like the Tiananmen Square Massacre, you’ll need to start thinking about what other back-end processes can be altered against your will.
This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.