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A Black Day For Internet Freedom In Germany 420

Posted by kdawson
from the sun-going-down dept.
Several readers including erlehmann and tmk wrote to inform us about the dawning of Internet censorship in Germany under the usual guise of protecting the children. "This week, the two big political parties ruling Germany in a coalition held the final talks on their proposed Internet censorship scheme. DNS queries for sites on a list will be given fake answers that lead to a page with a stop sign. The list itself is maintained by the German federal police (Bundeskriminalamt). A protest movement has formed over the course of the last several months, and over 130K citizens have signed a petition protesting the law. Despite this, and despite criticism from all sides, the two parties sped up the process for the law to be signed on Thursday, June 18, 2009."
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A Black Day For Internet Freedom In Germany

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  • by cyborch (524661) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @01:52PM (#28350587) Homepage Journal
    We've had that in Denmark for years now. OpenDNS should be the solution to all of your problems...
    • by Z00L00K (682162) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @01:57PM (#28350693) Homepage

      OpenDNS is the solution.

      At least until the DNS queries are hijacked.

      • by shentino (1139071)

        Hell, my college network does this and I'm pissed.

    • by ae1294 (1547521) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @02:18PM (#28351043) Journal

      We've had that in Denmark for years now. OpenDNS should be the solution to all of your problems...

      Do you really think that the government doesn't know about other DNS servers? I assure you there is some sort of plan and reason why they have not asked the ISP's to block or MASQ any request with a destination of 53.

      My simple guess is any request with a destination of 53 is logged and then resolved at some later time. A database of people who use these other servers is maintained and flags are included such as "pedophile, hacker, warez, terrorist, etc". This list then is used to help law enforcement and or they will just come and round all of you up one day.

      What's going to end up happening is someone is going to have to run a hacked all the hell bind server that takes encrypted requests on port 80 and replies back with your request which will then need to be cached locally so as not to totally hose your browsing. Then the government is going to start banning those server's IP addresses and someone is going to have to make a DNS resolver that runs in a distributed manner. Then the government will do something else, probably make it a huge crime to use any of this stuff and we will all be basically where we are now with copyright infringement which is to say that people don't respect that law and so all law becomes less respected. This is all the same as what happened in the 1930's US Prohibition of booze.

      "All of this has happened before, and it will happen again..."

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by half_d (314945)

        My simple guess is any request with a destination of 53 is logged and then resolved at some later time.

        I have a hard time believing that this would be the case; at least here in Denmark, everything about the different filtering we've experienced points at zero-knowledge politicians telling some IT staff what to do - and do it now!

        No real blocking is taking place, just sort of placebo blocking.. by the way, on the Danish version of the 'page with the red STOP sign' it says that ones visit to that page has not been logged.

        Our government, just like the rest of the 'civilized' world are acting crazy with pa

      • by an unsound mind (1419599) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @02:47PM (#28351489)

        In Nazi Germany... wait, that isn't funny.

      • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @02:53PM (#28351589)

        honeypot theory?

        you may be right. letting port 53 outbound thru but LOGGING who connects out of the country.

        yup, very plausible.

        expect it to spread to other countries, too ;(

        this is the century of anti-freedom, worldwide. yes, its really that bad and its getting WORSE each passing day.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by AmiMoJo (196126)

          Tor will bypass all their logging. Presumably they know this, but I'm not sure how they intend to fight it.

          In the UK Freedom of Information requests have been made on the subject, but no response so far.

          Even more worrying is what happens when sites from the list leak out. Even if we don't have the full list, as soon as someone visits a blocked site they can note the URL. Then all they need to do is send you an email with an in-line image link pointing to said site (or a hidden image on another site, an ifra

      • by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted AT slashdot DOT org> on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @02:53PM (#28351591)

        Do you really think that the government doesn't know about other DNS servers?

        Yes, after some TV magazine report, I know that they don't think that far.
        Blocking people from getting there is not the point. Intimidation, and getting the people used to this kind of government, is the real point.

        Besides: Who stops you from using another port, and encrypting the data trough a VPN? Hell, my router can do that. Trough a simple web-interface. I don't need to change anything on my pc. It's done in 5 minutes. Now if you offer me an offshore DNS server with a VPN, a good connection, and just the price of keeping it running, you will have a client. (Those free ones are too slow, and the others that you buy are way too expensive, because they want to profit big time from it.)

        I smell a nice non-profit business model here. Especially since half the world can be your clients.

        As long as they don't go to war against our small island full of servers, and as long as they do still allow data into the net, we can circumvent their censorship. And offer the whole world to do so too, in one click (insert USB stick, run autostart, click OK, done).

        I wonder how one could protect those servers better, even in case of attacks?
        Hey, I know it: Infect the censorship servers *themselves*! :D

        Who wants to apply for a well-payed job in this emerging censorship-server-market?
        If we storm them, all of us will pretty much be moles. Meaning we can perfectly disable the censorship proxies/routers for users with our special client patch. :)

        My god, and they thought they could stop *us all*. They can't even stop me alone.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Do you really think that the government doesn't know about other DNS servers?

          Yes, after some TV magazine report, I know that they don't think that far. Blocking people from getting there is not the point. Intimidation, and getting the people used to this kind of government, is the real point.

          I can reinforce that. The music industry is already calling on the government to include filesharing and torrent networks.

          So you can see where they're heading...

    • by lgw (121541) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @02:24PM (#28351127) Journal

      I expect political viewpoints judged "extreme" by those in power are already on the blacklist in Germany.

      Hasn't Denmark put opposition political websites on the blacklist too? I recal a /. story on that.

      Does anyone really think that blacklisting opposing political viewpoints is merely an "unfortunate side effect" of schemes like this?

    • by PPH (736903)

      Or, if you are a real masochist, /etc/hosts.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by powerlord (28156)

      I feel bad for the people in Germany, but I'm glad its not me.

      I'm sure there's a word that describes my secret joy about their bad-luck, but I can't remember it.

      Probably in some foreign language or something.

      (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schadenfreude [wikipedia.org])

  • Geez! (Score:5, Funny)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @01:52PM (#28350603)
    Man, those Germans are worse than Nazis.
  • by miruku (642921) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @01:54PM (#28350633) Homepage
  • Gigaton Fail - (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @01:55PM (#28350657)
    Looks like it's time for Germans to learn how to browse like the Chinese; Encryption, proxies, darknets, deep web crawling, and leaving as few traces behind as possible.

    For whatever naive reason I allowed myself to assume that Western Europe had finally begun to understand that police states are regressive and undesirable. Each passing day, it becomes clearer and clearer that realization has still yet to be made.
    • Re:Gigaton Fail - (Score:5, Interesting)

      by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @02:01PM (#28350761)

      Or browse like the Iranians. There's currently a pretty decent number of people helping set up proxies around the world for use in Iran. Austin Heap [twitter.com] managed to setup some VPN servers on gigabit-ethernet.

      I'm working on a Virtual Appliance that runs Squid, Tor, Polipo+Tor, ziproxy & ssh for use by people who don't quite know how to setup squid for themselves or want to sandbox it.

    • by MrEricSir (398214) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @02:08PM (#28350873) Homepage

      That's not what the Ministry of Truth told me.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by weinbrenner (248778)

      Oh, most people here would agree that police states are bad. But on the other hand they would say that there are exceptions (child pornography, terrorism etc.). And of course "our politicians would never do something really wrong!!!"

      People in Germany live in a rich land which has last experienced war 64 years ago - so most people see it for granted that they will always live in a democracy, where their freedom is guaranteed.
      Intellectually they know that in other countries this isn't so, but if you personall

    • "For whatever naive reason I allowed myself to assume that Western Europe had finally begun to understand that police states are regressive and undesirable." They are more sought after than ever, they have just become more subtle.
  • Easily circumvented? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JesseL (107722) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @01:56PM (#28350675) Homepage Journal

    Not that easy circumvention of a bad law makes it okay, but as a practical measure wouldn't it be easy to just use a DNS server in a different country? Or is Germany planning on firewalling all DNS queries except those from 'official' servers?

  • by firesyde424 (1127527) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @01:57PM (#28350697)

    Remember back a year or so, when the .alt newsgroup was taken down because something like 1% of the newsgroups in that domain had child pornography on them? You might as well have gotten rid of the whole internet because people could have found child porn there. It doesn't make sense.

    I would have expected something like this "DNS blacklist" in Iran or China. But Germany??

    This sounds like censorship for the sake of censorship

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I would have expected something like this "DNS blacklist" in Iran or China. But Germany??
       
      This sounds like censorship for the sake of censorship

      You must not know much about Germany to be surprised by this. Have a good read on this [wikipedia.org] article.

    • Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by denzacar (181829)

      This sounds like censorship for the sake of censorship

      You mean there is another kind?

  • What's Next? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by arizwebfoot (1228544) * on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @01:57PM (#28350701)
    Are gonna start tagging "children" with gps locator tag subcutaneous inserts?

    Then we start with those older folks suffering from dementia?

    Then we go on next to those who committed felonies?

    Finally, making it a requirement for all people who want to work, buy groceries, etc?

    What's next?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Are gonna start tagging "children" with gps locator tag subcutaneous inserts?

      Then we start with those older folks suffering from dementia?

      Whole families have been chipped in Florida by their choice.

      http://www.miaminightout.com/spotlight/advop/11172002/microchip.shtml

      Then we go on next to those who committed felonies?

      We're on it. http://www.cs.unc.edu/~pozefsky/COMP006D_F05/Criminal.ppt

      Finally, making it a requirement for all people who want to work, buy groceries, etc?

      What's next?

      There's firms that used to exist called city watcher that had their employees gain access to doors. U Conn developing chips to implant into soldiers to monitor vital signs.

    • What's next?

      I dunno, they will probably start tagging animals once they run out of people...
      • by sdnoob (917382)

        I dunno, they will probably start tagging animals once they run out of people...

        they already DO that...

        SETI better hit a home run pretty soon -- the government is gonna need aliens to tag when they run out of earth-bound flesh.

        and we humans are prime targets for them too, so it'll go both ways; as we'll all be well-versed by then in the bending-over-to-get-large-stick-rammed-up-the-ass maneuver.

    • by dcollins (135727)

      "Are gonna start tagging "children" with gps locator tag subcutaneous inserts?"

      Sure, and Slashdotters have already been helping with "how-to" advice: http://ask.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/06/01/1659209 [slashdot.org]

  • Mein Herr! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BigBlueOx (1201587) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @02:04PM (#28350809)
    Before you get on ze net, ve neet to zee your papers. Your papers, bitte.

    First, switch to Open DNS, second, vote the bastards out. Keep voting the bastards out until you get your bastards in there.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @02:05PM (#28350823)

    The law demands no specific way of intercepting the traffic, just one that works. If DNS spoofing proves to be unable to satisfy the law, then we will see more drastic measures, like blocking or rerouting access to alternative DNS servers and transparent proxies.

    Officially the proposal is pushed as a means to combat child pornography, but politicians from all involved parties have already hinted at other possible uses for the filtering infrastructure which will be installed. The parties are quick to deny any intent to allow such an extension, but there are even official press releases clearly hinting at a not-so-hidden agenda.

  • Holy shit! (Score:5, Funny)

    by jockeys (753885) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @02:06PM (#28350845) Journal
    This thread is Godwin-proof!

    Think about it:
    1. it's a story about government censorship (with all the usual iron-fisted delicacy wielded by big-government)
    2. it's a process that is completely non-transparent, and creates a sort of internet-secret-police
    3. it's happening in Germany

    It's the perfect storm of internet flamewars, completely immune to Godwin's Lawn!
    • "In Soviet Russia, jokes are formulaic and decidedly non-humorous."

      There, fixed your sig for you.

    • by solafide (845228) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @02:27PM (#28351171) Homepage
      Godwin: "You young folks these days, thinking you're immune to me. Get off my lawn!"
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Jesselnz (866138)
      This really isn't a big deal. If the Germans want Internet, they can just take it from Poland, or maybe France (they could connect the tubes through Belgium). It worked last time, didn't it?
    • It's the perfect storm of internet flamewars, completely immune to Godwin's Lawn!

      Ignoring the other points you raised, didn't you just make it immune to Godwin's by mentioning Godwins? In effect isn't Godwin's just a case of Schodinger's cat, because you can't really discuss a thread's Godwin status in the thread without mentioning Godwin's, thus invoking the exception to the law?

      Thanks for 'killing Godwin's cat', you nazi.
  • by wolfie123 (1331071) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @02:06PM (#28350849)
    We've had this in Finland for a while now, too. See http://lapsiporno.info/english-2008-02-15.html [lapsiporno.info] for internet activist Matti Nikki's fight against the debated censorship. OpenDNS is the de facto way to circumvent this censor list. Ironically, his site is blocked by the child porn list by our Keskusrikospoliisi (federal police).
    • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @02:54PM (#28351613)

      Ironically, his site is blocked by the child porn list by our Keskusrikospoliisi (federal police).

      Dude, that's not ironic, that's inevitable.

  • by Xaedalus (1192463) <Xaedalys.yahoo@com> on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @02:06PM (#28350853)
    Read TFA. This is not a 'police state' in the forming. This is a decision by the government, that apparently is backed by a majority of their citizens. We tend to forget here on /. that not everyone values freedom of the net like we do. We netizens are outnumbered by well-mannered, law-abiding individuals who aren't particularly net-savvy, don't understand the social dynamics of the net, and frankly don't want to. These people hear the stories about child porn websites, they read about "HACKERS!!!" (aka black hats) conducting cyber warfare in Estonia and other government institutions, and they see the power of porn in general on the net, and they are frightened by it. To them, having government institute censorship under 'reasonable' guidelines is the norm and should be enforced because that is the system they live in. They're sheeple. They don't want to take the time to understand the true nature of the issues at stake because to them, there is no need to. They live safe, secure lives. They perceive the internet to be an unregulated, dangerous place where their children could be psychologically damaged, their finances plundered, their identities stolen, and above all else, a world that is completely outside their own. Yes, politicians are going to take this to the limit. Yes, this is a dangerous trend. In order to fight this, we have to understand the basis of this, and the basis is that we are outnumbered by people who do value security and comfort above freedom, because that is how they choose to live their lives.
    • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @02:12PM (#28350955)

      I don't believe its at all the will of the people, on this one.

      its a power grab for the gov, plain and simple.

      germans tend to be technical, detail oriented and saavy and there is no way I can believe the population would WANT this.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Shoe Puppet (1557239)

        germans tend to be technical, detail oriented and saavy

        You must be talking about a different Germany from the one I live in. Most Germans have no clue about modern tech.

      • by meist3r (1061628) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @03:36PM (#28352251)

        germans tend to be technical, detail oriented and saavy and there is no way I can believe the population would WANT this.

        Flattering stereotypes aside, the general populous here is just as uninformed and boon-ish as anywhere else. They take their information pre-digested from the mass media and believe that politicians act in the best interest of the people. Combine that with an outstanding history of propaganda culture in my country and you have an uninformed flock of obedient yay-sayers. Most people read as far as "child pornography" and whatever is proposed to fight it can't be wrong, now can it? The majority of internet users will never even notice the blockades until their weblogs, gambling, filesharing and porn sites end up on the "to burn" pile. I'm disgusted by the shameful lies and deceit campaigns run by elected officials and I am bound to believe that this won't change in the near future. People are just too caught up in their daily existence to realize the big picture and fathom the depths of power structures within governments. One would think that Germany had learned lessons from her past but it seems like the only lesson learned is how to effectively manipulate the public opinion. Our media and political parties are largely bound by industry rule and won't take the risk of losing ad contracts or parliament alliances to defend freedom. After all, freedom makes a ruler's life hard. A sad and remarkable episode in German history has begun. This is the beginning of some disgusting schemes to protect the ruling class and their outdated ideas from reality. Next on the list are copyright infringements, there are several officials that have already mentioned this as the next logical desirable step. I doubt we can still stop it. The way this country is run by right-wing nuts and infiltrated from left over Nazis ever since WWII ended is despicable and unbeknownst to most a reason for this direction we're heading. I would say I'd emigrate but I just can't find any country where to.

    • by Repossessed (1117929) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @02:13PM (#28350971)

      Censorship is *always* backed by the majority. Doesn't keep it from being a violation of human rights.

    • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @02:17PM (#28351039)
      Yeah, that is exactly what Alexis de Tocqueville and John Stuart Mill warned about when they talked about the "Tyranny of the majority [wikipedia.org]."
    • by 0123456 (636235) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @02:19PM (#28351053)

      Read TFA. This is not a 'police state' in the forming.

      Indeed not. When the police can decide what you are and aren't allowed to access on the Internet, the police state is already here.

    • by AlHunt (982887)

      This is not a 'police state' in the forming

      Having the Consent of the Governed [wikipedia.org] doesn't mean it's not a police state.

  • by LichtVonWahrheit (1542169) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @02:08PM (#28350885)
    http://www.dnsserverlist.org/ [dnsserverlist.org] This site takes into account round trip time, not just the time it takes to ping a DNS server.
  • brothels? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by charlieo88 (658362)
    Wait, what? Legal brothels are okay but internet smut is a bridge too far?
    • It is all about the taxes, my friend, money is power, you retain power through the control of money, in the lawless wild west-ness of the internet, taxes are hard to obtain and control, but a nice campaign contribution might keep you off the blacklist.

      The red light districts are monitored and controlled, assuredly taxed.

      the illegal brothels are not, but then, those girls don't generally carry health cards...

  • FTA --

    ...to block Internet sites in order to fight child pornography ... enabling the government to block content containing child pornography.

    I don't get the outrage. Is it just because it is Germany, and stirs up memories of, "Die Papieren, bitte"? Otherwise, I don't see how this is any different than shutting down ANY illegitimate business (regardless if it is online or brick-and-mortar).

    • by T Murphy (1054674)
      You can make an analogy to illegal drugs, where the act of using the drug is illegal, and in addition the government tries to stop drugs from entering the border in the first place. The analogy makes sense well enough, but instead of filtering objects, you are filtering information. Although filtering out CP isn't a problem with most people, the false positives are. There will not be a perfect blacklist, and past and present ones have shown that they can get abused for political gain. One of the hallmarks o
  • Not just Germany. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Xest (935314) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @02:46PM (#28351465)

    Check the UK's digital Britain report released today. Under their plans to tackle file sharing they will start by sending letters.

    If file sharing hasn't dropped by 70%, they're going to start blocking sites, packet shaping, etc.

    It doesn't make for pleasant reading, there is absolutely no way they'll get a 70% drop in file sharing, especially not in 6 months so effectively it sounds like the government is using citizens not stopping file sharing as an excuse for a much greater censorship program by setting unrealistic targets on file sharing.

    It's nice to know the Labour government is finished, but it's disturbing to know that the Tories will almost certainly follow through with this legislation and that even some of the Lib Dems support it.

  • Does that mean us Americans can be Smug and Snotty to Europeans again?

  • by Xelios (822510) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @03:02PM (#28351779)
    The real discouraging thing here isn't the law itself (though that'd be enough in and of itself), it's the fact that despite criticism from all sides, a huge petition, thousands of people writing their elected officials and several protests outside government buildings the law is still being passed. Hell I've even seen stickers protesting the proposed law at bus stops and train stations. The "Zensursula" stickers are everywhere around here. When your government flat out ignores these things what's left to do? Wait for the next election, elect some other party into the majority and hope they actually behave differently? Just seems like every year things get worse, no matter who's in office.

    One other fun fact, the ruling parties (the CDU and SPD) have already mentioned using this blacklist for other things too, mainly gambling sites, Islamic sites and "Killerspiele" (sites that contain or promote violent games).

    It all brings to mind that South Park baseball episode where Randy gets arrested, with one small difference, "Oh I'm sorry I thought this was a democracy".
    • by John Hasler (414242) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @03:10PM (#28351873) Homepage

      > "Oh I'm sorry I thought this was a democracy".

      Do not confound democracy with liberty.

    • by alderX (931621) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @04:12PM (#28352777)

      The "elect someone else" option unfortunately doesn't work. Basically there are two big parties (CDU and SPD) and both want the same in most of the cases. So you can be sure that one of them will lead the next government and nothing really changes.

      It's like if in the US there is an important issue where Democrats and Republicans agree on. If you are against their plan, what do you do? What chance is there that a third party is going to take the house or bring up the next president? Guess why Ron Paul ran for the Republicans? Because he knew that as a third party/independent he wouldn't even get on the ballets / into the big TV debates.

  • ...your Democratic Republic of Germany; move along, nothing to see here.
  • the Green Dam folks to write the DNS firewall.

    Really, I don't see how this is going to work unless you firewall DNS. Then your official DNS servers are going to have to do a lot of work. Eventually businesses are going to revolt if this is causing downtime....

  • by Shoe Puppet (1557239) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @03:12PM (#28351897)
  • insane politicians (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tom (822) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @04:19PM (#28352875) Homepage Journal

    When you read up a little on the history, views and personalities of the main politicians involved in this - Ursula von der Leyen and Wolfgang Schäuble - you find out quickly that they are both almost certainly borderline insane.

    Schäuble is suffering from PTSD since that failed attack on him many years back. His medical records are kept secret.

    von der Leyen is either a fanatic or crazy. The amount of disconnect from reality she displays certainly has a medical term, but I can't recall it right now. She's acting like the guy who insists on being Napoleon no matter what evidence to the contrary you come up with. You could show her a room full of scientific studies disproving each and every word she's ever said on the matter - and she wouldn't change her course one inch.

    Quite frankly, these people are dangerous and criminally insane.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kraut (2788)

      Schäuble is suffering from PTSD since that failed attack on him many years back. His medical records are kept secret.

      Dude, everyone's medical records are kept secret - it's that privacy thing we sometimes talk about on /., ....

      Quite frankly, these people are dangerous and criminally insane.

      Sadly not unusual in politicians. I sometimes wonder whether one or both are actually prerequisites for entering politics.

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