Barriers the internet can’t leap
There was a time when the progressive, internet-friendly viewpoint was almost always ‘freedom is good, government restrictions are bad.’
But as the internet becomes more integrated with every part of our lives, that’s starting to change. And it’s more apparent than ever that the idea of one global internet that’s the same for everyone was idealistic and naive, rather than a realistic vision of a better future.
As mentioned above, DNS-over-HTTPS is a useful privacy-focused feature designed to keep your ISP out of the loop about which sites you visit online. Given that ISPs, especially on free WiFi networks in hotels, airports and the like, have a reputation for guzzling up that information for ad targeting, this feature sounds like a smart idea.
But DNS-over-ISP has proven controversial in the UK because it means lists of sites ISPs should block for child protection reasons will no longer always work.
The internet freedom advocate inside me says nationwide blocklists are dangerous as they might block images of child abuse today, but they could be used for more nefarious uses by a suitably devious government in the future. But the pluralist inside me accepts that as long as there’s suitable oversight, ISPs blocking access to certain kinds of the worst illegal content is no bad thing.
And for better or worse, a bit of top-down nannying is just how British culture works. In many cases, many of us want it and call out for it in a way that most Americans don’t.
If you want DNS-over-HTTPS, you can still activate it manually in Firefox, but by relenting from a full rollout, Mozilla is showing that there are some cultural barriers the internet may never leap.