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Your Internet Villain for 2019? Mozilla (DoH), Trump or EU Copyright

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019 (12:55 pm) - Score 1,908

The UK Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) has published a list of finalists for the “Internet Hero” and “Internet Villain” categories at this year’s forthcoming annual internet industry awards, although the decision to put Mozilla under the Villain category for their DNS-over-HTTPS (DoH) push may be contentious.

Apparently the candidates can all expect to be scrutinised by the ISPA’s Council and the winners will then be announced at a gala ceremony on the 11th July 2019 at the Sheraton Grand Park Lane Hotel in London. A full short-list for other categories, including several for broadband ISPs, has already been unveiled (here).

At this point it’s worth noting that the ISPA’s Internet Villain category took a vacation from last year’s event but it’s back for 2019 and has already provided a few talking points.

ISPA Internet Hero

Sir Tim Berners-Lee – for spearheading the ‘Contract for the Web’ campaign to rebuild trust and protect the open and free nature of the Internet in the 30th anniversary of the World Wide Web.

Andrew Ferguson OBE, Editor, Thinkbroadband – for providing independent analysis and valuable data on the UK broadband market since the year 2000.

Oscar Tapp-Scotting & Paul Blaker, Global Internet Governance Team, DCMS – for leading the UK Government’s efforts to ensure a balanced and proportionate agenda at the International Telecommunications Union Conference.

ISPA Internet Villain

Mozilla – for their proposed approach to introduce DNS-over-HTTPS in such a way as to bypass UK filtering obligations and parental controls, undermining internet safety standards in the UK.

Article 13 Copyright Directive – for threatening freedom of expression online by requiring ‘content recognition technologies’ across platforms.

President Donald Trump – for causing a huge amount of uncertainty across the complex, global telecommunications supply chain in the course of trying to protect national security.

The biggest talking point above is perhaps the decision to stick Mozilla (Firefox, Thunderbird etc.) under the villain category for their DNS-over-HTTPS (DoH) solution (see here and here for context). The issue being that DoH may cause some headaches for ISPs and their controls, although at its core DoH is still fundamentally about trying to improve the privacy and security of internet traffic. In theory you could put Mozilla as a hero too.

However Mozilla is up against some stiff competition. On the one hand we have Trump and his excessive Huawei restrictions, which impacted a global supply chain (here). On the other hand we have the highly controversial automated filtering aspect – Article 13 – of the EU’s new Copyright Directive (here).

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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19 Responses
  1. Sam says:

    Mozilla is a petty inclusion.

    1. M says:

      I agree. When I saw this I thought it was because of their attempts to commercialise Firefox — however, I was horrified to see that Mozilla is being accused of villainy for simply protecting our right to outright privacy. On the contrary, I absolutely applaud Mozilla for their efforts and discredit this nomination.

    2. SimonR says:

      @M – isn’t Mozilla therefore counteracting Article 13? I’m not up on that side of things, but if it leaves Trump as a front-runner then I’m happy.

    3. Joe says:

      Yes in practice but FF not legally breaking anything.

    4. SimonR says:

      @Joe – that’s what I was thinking. In my mind it was almost hypocritical to to have two contradicting “villains”.

    5. Joe says:

      Its an odd list all around (albeit i’m not sure what Oscar Tapp-Scotting & Paul Blaker have done to be sure on that one…)

      I’m take a ruat caelum approach on security. I’d rather it was the best and the consequences (of limited misuse) be d*mned.

    6. SimonR says:

      And now I’ve a bit better knowledge on some Latin.

  2. Ironic says:

    “Apparently the candidates can all expect to be scrutinised by the ISPA’s Council….”
    “The biggest talking point above is perhaps the decision to stick Mozilla (Firefox, Thunderbird etc.) under the villain category for their DNS-over-HTTPS (DoH) solution (see here and here for context). The issue being that DoH may cause some headaches for ISPs and their controls”

    That is why Mozilla is being considered as a villain. The wonderful ISPA council has members from BT, Virgin, Sky and a few others. Anything that makes their life difficult (or as mark better put it ’cause some headaches for ISPs and their controls’) is bound to cause some tantrum crying…. Poor them.

  3. Stephen Donagy says:

    Putting down Tim Berner’s Lee as a hero for his recent work “to protect the open and free nature of the Internet” while at the same time putting Mozilla down as a villain for doing _exactly the same thing_ is just ridiculous. The ISPA should be on Mozilla’s side, as the internet filters are pointless, easy to bypass and won’t actually achieve anything beyond censorship.

  4. New_Londoner says:

    To provide some balance to other comments already posted, it’s great to see Mozilla put forward in the villain category. By pushing DoH and threatening to implement it by default it potentially bypasses both parental controls and malware protection.

    In return DoH threatens to provide US tech companies with yet another way to monetise our data, in this case our browser history. And it makes it harder to detect malware. Apart from that this is a well thought through protocol!

    What a surprise that not all developments encouraged by US browser companies including Mozilla have our best interests at their heart. Perhaps this award might remind it to consider its users more and take less of a steer from Google, its major funder.

    1. Chris says:

      I’m not sure I understand the link you make between encrytped DNS, and American companies somehow making money off our browsing history (how do they see it)?
      And you really think Mozilla doesn’t have our best interests at their heart? Thanks to Mozilla and Cloudflare, I have encrypted DNS, DNSSEC, TLS 1.3 and encrypted SNI. Compare that to Chrome.

    2. New_Londoner says:

      And in return Chris, assuming that you’re using Cloudflare as your DoH resolver via Firefox, Cloudflare has visibility of the browsing history on each device you’ve installed it on. Remember that your DNS is only encrypted between your device and Cloudflare, a privately owned US tech company part-funded by Google that is providing DoH for “free”.

      DoH has helpfully made it easier for malware to hide and much more difficult to spot its C&C activity.

    3. Joe says:

      Plenty of different DNS severs you can use if you want to get tin foil about company x or y.


    4. New_Londoner says:

      And of course you can use the protocol to discover DoH resolvers and authenticate them – oh wait they didn’t put that in the spec!

    5. Rory says:

      The use of DNS for parental controls and malware filtering is a bad hack, easily bypassed by any malware that knows what it’s doing and trivially neutralized by VPNs.

      If organizations (parents or companies) want to provide effective filtering for content passing over their networks, then they should do it properly, with restrictive egress filtering and SSL MITM.

      Malware detection is only effective if done at the endpoints, where more signals are available than DNS and port numbers.

      I’d suggest the reason ISPs don’t like it , is it’ll cost them more money to do the filtering now.

      Clear-text protocols are not a good security idea, and moving away from them is going to improve security

  5. Chris says:

    Mozilla the villain?! Am I the only one who receives update emails from them (the Mozilla Foundation) with news about their progress in internet safety and security? In the words of General Melchett, “Security isn’t a dirty word Blackadder. ‘Crevice’ is a dirty word, but security isn’t”.
    Thanks to Mozilla and Cloudflare, I have encrypted DNS, DNSSEC, TLS 1.3 and encrypted SNI. Please explain how I lose out from this. If this makes Mozilla bad, then IE must be the best browser in the world!

  6. Fred says:

    Mark Jackson missing from the Internet Hero list again! Good luck to Andrew from TBB

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      I was on it in 2017 😉 . In any case I never get the time for events all the way up in London during the working week.

  7. mike says:

    Mozilla is the hero here

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