DNS OVER HTTPS – Why DoH could be catastrophic for the work of INHOPE hotlines

  • Hotlines
  • 04/09/2019
  • The Internet Watch Foundation, the UK hotline

DNS over HTTPS (DoH) is a protocol for performing remote Domain Name System (DNS) resolution via the HTTPS protocol, aiming to increase user privacy and security. Fred Langford, Deputy CEO & CTO of the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), the UK hotline, shares his views on DoH and why it could threaten the work of IWF and other hotlines around the world.

"We're not calling on DNS over HTTPS (DoH) to be banned, encryption is not a bad thing. But those creating this technology, and those rolling it out, need to understand the impact of its implementation from safeguarding and policy perspectives.

"Last year, 100,682 unique URLs were on our URL list. We cannot possibly count the number of individual images and videos on each URL – there are just too many. But each contains at least one image or video of a child being sexually abused.

"The IWF has worked for more than 23 years to prevent sexual predators from seeing such images. We're more than capable of adapting to the changes on the internet. Over the years we've built new ways to help victims and survivors of abuse by providing internet companies with the tools to stop and remove this imagery quickly.

"However, it could be catastrophic if this imagery – millions of images and videos per year – was suddenly unshielded from public view due to oversight.

"We are in a national crisis. The police, in their conservative estimate, believe that between 60,000 and 80,000 men in the UK look for this material. Therefore, we won't be silent when technology comes along which has this unintended – but catastrophic – impact.

"If DoH is implemented in its proposed form, the UK will undermine years of progress in the fight against child sexual abuse material. We need to work together to ensure enhancements to privacy and security are not at the expense of the most vulnerable in society."

For more information about the work of the UK hotline, visit the INHOPE website and the hotline's website iwf.org.uk.

Find out more information about the work of the UK Safer Internet Centre generally, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services, or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.

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