The next censorship is on DNS

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, 8.8.8.8, and its alternate, 8.8.4.4, 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.

Yup, its coming

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 1.1.1.1 and 1.0.0.1, 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.

Diplomacy done right for Taiwan and India

Image from: https://www.imrmedia.in/india-rattles-china-appoints-new-envoy-to-taiwan/

Perhaps the only country not having a horrible 2020 might be Taiwan. Taiwan was one of the few countries to fight the spread of COVID-19 well, despite its proximity to Communist China. Later in the year, multiple US Navy vessels transited the Taiwan Straits, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated that the US is “a good partner for security” for Taiwan.

Now, on the day that is celebrated as Taiwan’s Independence Day (10 October, or “Double 10” day), #TaiwanNationalDay is trending throughout India. Communist China tried to snuff it out in advance with a strongly worded “reminder” that there is only one China. Not long ago China and India were fighting each other along their mountainous border, so its no surprise that this “reminder” found its way to the press. The reaction by Indians is telling. Even better, the timing is great, with Secretary Pompeo meeting with top Indian officials at the end of the month to discuss how to deepen ties between India and the United States.

After taking Hong Kong, China showed the world it will weather any storm of protests to achieve its own goals. Anything short of hard military and economic power doesn’t work. People continue to protest the horrible maltreatment of Uighurs and development of South China Sea artificial islands, and yet nothing has changed. The only reason China hasn’t grabbed Taiwan is the risk it faces of US military action. To get over this, China has built a navy now larger than the US (at least in terms of number of ships) and modernized its ground and rocket forces.

Traditional thinking would condemn the US to build an even bigger military, and recently Defense Secretary Esper called for just that: a 500 ship Navy. That’s currently a pipe dream, because we can’t even man the Navy we have now. The Navy currently has roughly 350,000 Sailors; an increase to 500 ships would require gaining at least 200,000 more, not to mention ships and Sailors take time to build and train.

But India? India is already worried about China. India is already in conflict. If Taiwan brings India into any future conflict with Communist China, its a winning move. China doesn’t want to fight on two fronts. It might be able to hold off the US long enough to cement gains in Taiwan, but its not going to do well if India pushes into its western territories. Worse still, if a place like Tibet or Xinjiang decides to not rejoin China, that could drag any conflict out for years, dragging down the economy and the Chinese middle class in the process. That’s a double whammy, because Communist China has to provide a good economy in exchange for not being a democracy. If the economy goes south for too long, it risks revolt.

Deepening ties with India is a smart move for Taiwan and the US. Let’s hope we get more of this diplomacy to stave off future conflicts.

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.