Movie and music pirates are setting up alternative DNS services to help users work around the government seizure of domain names.
A new service, BlockAid.me, launched an open beta at the end of September. It’s currently being promoted prominently on at least one major movie/music/games-sharing site.
The site encourages internet users to reconfigure their computers to use BlockAid’s DNS servers. That way, if a domain name used by a piracy web site is seized by law enforcement, BlockAid will be able to direct surfers to the original owner’s IP address more or less transparently.
This is exactly what the experts predicted would happen.
Ever since the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency started seizing domain names associated with pirated content and US politicians have been discussing legislation to streamline the process, workarounds have been expected.
In May, DNS experts including Paul Vixie, Dan Kaminsky and now-ICANN chair Steve Crocker said that the Protect-IP Act in the US would persuade many users to switch to offshore DNS servers.
They warned that this would lead to a rise in cybercrime against consumers, as disreputable or insecure DNS providers send surfers to spoofs of banks and other sensitive sites.
While there’s no reason to believe the BlockAid project has this kind of nefarious activity in mind, if the idea catches on it’s probably inevitable that a similar service operated by crooks will emerge eventually.
Amusingly, BlockAid’s web site says that it may financially support itself in future by showing ad-laden web pages instead of returning NXDOMAIN errors, a much-criticized money-making tactic many ISPs already use.
Note also that the .me registry is managed by Afilias, a heavily US-based company, which likely makes BlockAid.me just as vulnerable to seizure as any .com address.