Comcast fights Google’s encrypted-DNS plan but promises not to spy on users
TECHNOLOGY

Comcast fights Google’s encrypted-DNS plan but promises not to spy on users


Enlarge / A Comcast van in Sunnyvale, California, in November 2018.

Getty Visuals | Andrei Stanescu

Comcast has absent on the document to say that it does not track its broadband users’ Net browsing histories, even however the business is lobbying from a Google plan that could make it more durable for ISPs to observe their people.

Comcast yesterday introduced a statement titled “The Information about Privateness with Comcast’s Xfinity Net Support.” Comcast said:

In which you go on the Net is your enterprise, not ours. As your Web Company Company, we do not monitor the sites you take a look at or applications you use via your broadband relationship. Because we will not monitor that information and facts, we you should not use it to build a profile about you and we have never ever bought that facts to any person.

Comcast additional claimed that it does not and has hardly ever sold “information that identifies who you are to any individual,” and the organization claims it has hardly ever marketed area knowledge collected from Comcast’s cell provider. Comcast also said it deletes DNS queries produced by its World wide web clients every 24 several hours “apart from in extremely unique scenarios wherever we need to study a stability or network performance problem, defend from safety threats, or comply with a valid authorized ask for.”

Comcast’s assertion came 1 day just after Motherboard ran an write-up titled “Comcast Is Lobbying Towards Encryption That Could Avoid it From Finding out Your Browsing History.”

In the post, Motherboard posted a lobbying presentation that it states Comcast has been distributing to US lawmakers. The Comcast slide deck statements that a Google/Mozilla prepare to mail DNS queries over the encrypted HTTPS protocol would “centraliz[e] a majority of globally DNS knowledge with Google” and “give a single service provider control of Online targeted visitors routing and large amounts of new details about consumers and opponents.” When contacted by Ars, Comcast did not affirm or deny that it is distributing the slide deck to lawmakers.

The broadband industry’s key foyer groups have also been complaining to Congress about Google’s system for DNS around HTTPS, or simply just DoH. Google has reported its approach for the Chrome browser is to “verify if the user’s existing DNS service provider is among a listing of DoH-appropriate companies, and upgrade to the equivalent DoH services from the exact provider.” Google’s public DNS process is just one of six suppliers on the list, which also contains Cleanbrowsing, Cloudflare, DNS.SB, OpenDNS, and Quad9.

If what Google claims is precise, the organization will not change any Chrome people to Google DNS. If a Chrome person depends on their ISP’s DNS or employs a different DNS service provider that isn’t on the listing, Chrome would make no changes for that person. If a Chrome person is using a person of the five non-Google selections on the list, Chrome would swap the consumer to the encrypted edition of that provider’s DNS program, not to Google’s.

Mozilla plans a additional aggressive rollout of encrypted DNS for Firefox, but Comcast and other ISPs have principally expressed issues about Google. Google has reported that it “has no programs to centralize or modify people’s DNS suppliers to Google by default” and that “any declare that we are striving to turn into the centralized encrypted DNS supplier is inaccurate.”

ISPs exaggerate scope of Google program

That has not stopped ISPs from urging Congress to intervene and claiming (evidently falsely) that Google designs to instantly switch DNS requests on Chrome for desktops and Chrome for Android to its individual DNS servers. A letter to Congress from lobby teams which includes NCTA, which signifies Comcast, claims that Google is making its individual DNS services “the encrypted DNS lookup provider by default” on each Chrome and Android.

Comcast’s presentation for lawmakers claims that Google’s prepare signifies that “ISPs and other enterprises will be precluded from looking at and resolving their users’ DNS queries and will be bypassed in favor of Google’s personal DNS resolver, i.e., Google Community DNS.”

“With near to 70 % of the browser market place and around 80 % of the cellular operating procedure current market globally, Google/Mozilla’s unilateral move will profoundly remake the Online to Google’s liking by centralizing DNS facts in Google’s arms,” Comcast claimed.

Comcast even further reported that “Google’s unilateral imposition of default, centralized DNS encryption will harm critical components of the World-wide-web” and that “Congress must demand that Google pause and remedy crucial queries.” Below are some of the concerns that Comcast suggests Congress need to force Google to answer:

  • How will Google address safety worries that arise from owning just a one DNS resolver for a massive proportion of US World-wide-web visitors?
  • Is it very good for Google to be the sole source of malware safety for the entire US World wide web ecosystem?
  • Offered Google’s sector ability in the browser and OS current market, and simply because Google is making an attempt to seize command of DNS information, does this elevate aggressive worries?
  • Will consumer’s [sic] be presented a meaningful option to keep away from Google and Mozilla’s DNS services—how will Google describe the pitfalls to clients?
  • How will Google aid parental controls and content material filtering? Will these types of expert services be presented completely by Google and/or individuals it does organization with?

Comcast’s opposition to Google’s ideas could increase worries that Comcast is tracking its broadband users’ searching activity. Individuals similar issues were elevated when Comcast and other ISPs lobbied Congress to destroy broadband privateness rules in 2017. The federal government’s choice to get rid of privacy principles at the broadband industry’s request means that firms like Comcast are not prohibited from employing customers’ browsing histories to offer specific adverts or from sharing customers’ searching histories with 3rd events.

Comcast defended its privacy methods at the time, stating that it doesn’t offer its users’ World wide web browsing histories.

What is Comcast nervous about?

But if Comcast is just not monitoring its consumers, why is it so concerned about Google’s DNS programs? Comcast’s presentation suggests that Google deploying encrypted DNS would “develop difficulties for material supply, material safety, legislation enforcement, and ISP shopper help/troubleshooting” and “undermine network support top quality and performance—including 5G.”

In a assertion to Ars, Comcast said it supports encrypted DNS but that it “want[s] to make confident that it is implemented in a cautious, collaborative method for the advantage of Web prospects to make sure that crucial parental controls, cybersecurity protections, and network safety characteristics are not broken in the method.” Comcast claimed it would guidance a “collaborative, market-large answer that shields absolutely everyone,” but not “unilateral motion” by Google and Mozilla.

Comcast’s other assertion about its privacy procedures will not name Google, but the cable organization is evidently hoping to draw a difference in between the privacy of its very own provider and the privacy of Google’s.

“We’ve hardly ever employed [DNS query] details for any sort of advertising or advertising—and we have never ever bought it to anybody,” Comcast stated.

Google would make most of its revenue from advertising and collects browsing data in purchase to target adverts at consumers. But Google suggests that Google General public DNS is not made use of to provide advertisements and that it won’t correlate IP addresses or site details with users’ personal facts.

Comcast runs an promoting company

Whilst Comcast states it will not observe its users’ browsing record, Comcast does sell on line ads for “a number of quality, substantial-visitors on the net destinations” by its advertising small business.

Comcast’s web page suggests that it may perhaps goal on-line advertisements based mostly on users’ information and facts, even though seemingly not their searching histories:

Comcast might market graphical display screen, text, and other ads, and provide marketing provides for its solutions and solutions, on the Comcast Web Services and other electronic qualities. These ads and promotional provides may be dependent on info that you have supplied to Comcast or its affiliates (these as the ZIP code of your Xfinity Web assistance handle), details about your existing subscription or use of Comcast’s or its affiliates’ items or products and services, or other commonly offered facts about you.

Comcast also sells targeted adverts on its cable Tv service.

Because Comcast now operates an promoting platform, it likely wouldn’t be hard for the enterprise to track its broadband users’ browsing histories in buy to serve qualified advertisements. (AT&T utilized to do specifically that.) Comcast may well not observe browsing action right now, but its lobbying towards privateness guidelines and Google’s DNS plans could help Comcast hold its options open.



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Former Yahoo employee, love tech and internet.

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