Monday, January 29, 2018

Would checking for typosquatting violate (previous) network neutrality?

Today, when I misspelled a domain name – yes, that can be dangerous (typosquatting) Cox intercepted it and with a message that it cannot connect to a domain by that name.

This could be good – Cox is likely to be protecting consumers from typosquatting scams.  In most cases, though, a non-existing domain is caught by the browser and a message is returned back from regular Internet tier DNS servers.  Theoretically, this might have violated network neutrality rules in the past (until the repeal).

In fact, I had thought that Pai had already published his “revolution” to the Federal Register, but the latest seems to be that it’s not all there yet.

It may be laudable for telecom companies to protect customers from security problems by scanning domain names for validity and possibly typosquatting, which is what I suspect is happening. No legitimate sites have been blocked in my experience (by Cox, Comcast, or Verizon).  But it could set the stage for offering much more restricted sets later, for example https only, or perhaps sites rates as safe only. I wonder how that will play out with all the net neutrality litigation starting, especially in the states. 

I would notice that some offices and some public computers block "amateur" sites, but this has nothing to do with telecom's; this seems to be a workplace environment issue. 

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