Free streams to unlock paid-for shows and movies found on Netflix, Sky TV and Prime Video could soon be blocked automatically by internet service providers. It’s all thanks to new measure prepared by the European Union (EU), which would see traffic to illicit piracy portals blocked before anyone is even able to visit such a site.
As reported by TorrentFreak, Brussels is currently working on a new project known as DNS4EU, which is designed to block web traffic to “illegal” websites, which could include pirate sites. Pirate sites that could be affected including those that allow visitors to stream Netflix, Sky TV and Prime Video content illegally for free, or those that provide access to illegal torrent downloads.
How would it work? Well, according to draft plans, the EU will leverage the Domain Name System (DNS), which has been an integral part of the internet ever since its early days. Crucial to DNS, which some people refer to as the internet phone book and allow your web browser to find the websites that you type into the address bar, are DNS resolvers, which allow web surfers to easily access any website.
This market is dominated by US firms such as Google, Cloudflare and Norton …but the EU is working on a counter point to this.
The EU controlled DNS resolvers are meant to protect users privacy, and could end up being the backbone for the traffic of millions in Europe. The EU operated DNS system will make sure user data is not monetised, comply to crucial privacy regulation such as GDPR, help protect people from malware and phishing scams and – crucially for those that use pirate websites – could see these services blocked at the point of access.
Documentation for the EU’s DNS resolvers say it will encompass: “Filtering of URLs leading to illegal content based on legal requirements applicable in the EU or in national jurisdictions (e.g. based on court orders), in full compliance with EU rules.”
It also explains: “DNS4EU shall offer a high level of resilience, global and EU-specific cybersecurity protection, data protection and privacy according to EU rules, ensure that DNS resolution data are processed in Europe and personal data are not monetised.”
Details are sparse on the DNS4EU project, so it’s unclear when these new DNS systems could get rolled out.
But the proposals have already sparked a backlash from the Pirate Party, with MEP Patrick Breyer who warned about the risk of online censorship.
Breyer said: “A government-run DSA scheme comes with the risk of online censorship. Access blocking leaves content online and therefore can easily be circumvented and often results in overblocking and collateral suppression of legal speech hosted on the same website, by the same provider or via the same network.”
Breyer also argued that infringing content should be removed not blocked – due to a risk of overblocking. The MEP said: “Illegal content should be removed where it is hosted.”