Comcast Slides Reveal It’s Lobbying Against Plans to Encrypt Browser Data: Report
Comcast, one of the largest and most reviled internet service providers in the country, has reportedly been lobbying against efforts by companies like Mozilla and Google to switch on or test, respectively, a tool for encrypting your browser history, thereby making it trickier for ISPs to snoop on it.
Motherboard obtained a presentation that was reportedly presented to policymakers that makes some startling—albeit largely misleading—claims about the companies’ intentions for encrypting DNS data your browser history using the network protocol DNS-over-HTTPS (DoH). In short, a DNS server will translate a domain name to an IP address to show you whatever site you’re trying to access. But because this process is generally unencrypted, it can potentially expose where you’re headed on the web to those who know how to look. And that, of course, includes ISPs.
In a screenshot of the lobbying presentation, Comcast claims that should Google and Mozilla activate DoH, “this feature would by default route all DNS traffic from Chrome and Android users to Google Public DNS, thus centralizing a majority of worldwide DNS data with Google.” The document further claims that this “unilateral centralization of DNS raises serious policy issues relating to cybersecurity, privacy, antitrust, national security and law enforcement, network performance and service quality (including 5G), and others.” Basically, the slide lists a whole host of boogie man buzzwords seemingly intended to scare the shit out of policymakers.
Among other claims in the lobbying document, the presentation also asserts that if Google encrypts browser data, “ISPs and other enterprises will be precluded from seeing and resolving their users’ DNS.” But multiple parties who spoke with Motherboard say that is not the case. Indeed, Google states in a September blog post about its plans for implementing DNS-over-HTTPS (aka DoH) in Chrome 79 that the experiment will be carried out “in collaboration with DNS providers who already support DoH, with the goal of improving our mutual users’ security and privacy by upgrading them to the DoH version of their current DNS service.” Google reiterated its goals in a statement sent to Gizmodo.
“Google has no plans to centralize or change people’s DNS providers to Google by default. Any claim that we are trying to become the centralized encrypted DNS provider is inaccurate,” a Google spokesperson said. Rather, the company said that it’s “experimenting,” as it noted in the September blog, with new methods for ensuring “online pr