Re: [Pearg] descriptive censorship work: draft-hall-censorship-tech

Amelia Andersdotter <amelia@article19.org> Sun, 19 May 2019 01:38 UTC

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From: Amelia Andersdotter <amelia@article19.org>
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Date: Sun, 19 May 2019 03:37:50 +0200
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Subject: Re: [Pearg] descriptive censorship work: draft-hall-censorship-tech
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Hey Joe,

Some additional feedback:

- Change the words "blacklisting" and "whitelisting" to "blocklisting"
and "allowlisting" as suggested in draft-knodel-terminology-00.
- EU countries are being let off a bit easily in the examples section.
DNS blocking is really common[1][2][3][4][7] (for section 4.1.1) - EU
ISPs default on DNS blocking when they are faced with legal obligations
to restrict access to content for whatever reason. On DPI (section
3.2.4), there are other resources[5] (which include the nuance Vittorio
seeks below). But of course, our friends at epicenter.works have
compiled a comprehensive list of various blocking schemes that are
commercially motivated in the EU at this time[6]. They fall under
various headings in draft-hall-censorship-tech section 3 and 4.

Like Vittorio, I have some difficulty seeing what sections 5, 6.1 and
6.4 bring to the discussion. Section 6.2 and 6.3 could have value since
there are or could be technical work-arounds for the cases where there
is no clear legal support for action (e.g., consider a contractual,
voluntary action by a root name server to delist or re-assign some name,
which could be monitored, perhaps in some way similar to Certificate
Transparency). Section 6.3 situations would be mitigated by
cloud-servers or CDNs, but not an IETF job perhaps. On section 6.2,
there is case-law from a number of EU member states on domain seizures,
and in a link below you'll see an EFF and Public Knowledge mapping of
B2B domain seizures in the US.

I can add some reflections on Vittorio's remarks (mostly for Vittorio's
benefit, but see EFF-link below all):

On 2019-05-17 12:00, Vittorio Bertola wrote:
> First of all, the document assumes that any content control is
> censorship. By the definition in section 1, even blocking the
> connection from a bot to its C&C center is censorship. That's way too
> broad.
> The basic problem is that many of these techniques are also used for positive reasons, which makes it difficult to determine how to deal with them at the technical level, as any counter-technique that makes them impossible is bound to also disrupt those positive uses, creating problems to their users (see the DoH debate). 

While I disagree this necessarily applies to DoH, I am aware that
positive uses of disrupting communications (blocking port 25 for private
consumers to inhibit spam, for instance, in section 3.3.1 of the draft)
is what generally has limited regulatory action targetting the
/technical means of disrupting communications/. 

> But there are also cases in which Internet platforms decide to block stuff on their own, for their own business interests or company views (example: I don't think Facebook is censoring breastfeeding images due to any legal requirement or governmental pressure).

Yes, and no. James Boyle wrote an essay in 1997 titled "Foucault in
Cyberspace" which argues that COPPA incentivises exactly the censoring
of breastfeeding images. For an illustrative example, read the Wikipedia
article on Janet Jackson's nipple-slip during SuperBowl:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Bowl_XXXVIII_halftime_show_controversy#Aftermath_and_effects

There are also issues with B2B contracts:
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2017/07/how-threats-against-domain-names-used-censor-content

I think this could be clarified in section 1 of draft-censorship by
adding the word "contractual": "(Although censors that engage in
censorship must do so through legal, CONTRACTUAL, military, or other means,"

> A couple of weeks ago, for example, Facebook blocked the account of a European elections candidate that happened to be a descendant of Mussolini. A couple of days ago, Facebook shut down 23 pages in Italy that supported the government parties, for spreading "fake news" that, according to those who were posting them, were not fake at all. I'm not arguing that this was bad behaviour by them, but these are indeed cases of silencing someone for their political views, yet I don't see where this kind of things are covered in this document.

To be fair, Facebook faces fines in the order of tens of millions of
euros if they fail to block something they should have blocked.
Over-blocking has indeed been a persistent concern among those groups
who have argued that blocking is not a good solution to any particular
content moderation problem.

References:

[1] Council of Europe, 2014: p. 72 ff, The rule of law on the Internet
and in the wider digital world, https://rm.coe.int/16806da51c

[2] European Commission (contractors), 2019: p. 31 ff, Evaluation of
regulatory tools for enforcing online gambling rules and channelling
demand towards controlled offers,
https://ec.europa.eu/growth/content/evaluation-regulatory-tools-enforcing-online-gambling-rules-and-channelling-demand-towards-1_en

[3] EDRi, 2011: p. 22 ff, The slide from self-regulation to corporate
censorship,
https://edri.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/selfregualation_paper_20110925_web.pdf


[4] EDRi, 2010: all the pages, Booklet On Internet Blocking.
https://edri.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/blocking_booklet.pdf

[5] BEREC and European Commission, 2012: A view of traffic management
and other practices resulting in restrictions to the open Internet in
Europe
http://berec.europa.eu/eng/document_register/subject_matter/berec/download/0/45-berec-findings-on-traffic-management-pra_0.pdf


[6] epicenter.works, 2019: p. 36 ff, Report: The Net Neutrality
Situation in the EU, https://epicenter.works/document/1522

[7] From ARTICLE19's CATNIP, forthcoming: "France blocked Copwatch, a
website reporting on police violence, in 2011,
https://www.laquadrature.net/fr/censure-politique-et-judiciaire-de-copwatch
"

-- 
Amelia Andersdotter
Technical Consultant, Digital Programme
Chair, RCM TIG, IEEE 802.11

ARTICLE19
www.article19.org

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