A few days ago I came across a document on the Internet titled “SOPA Emergency IP list”.
If you know about the whole SOPA situation that happened a few months ago and of the idea to potentially grant exclusive control over DNS servers to governments, pushed by some groups in the USA government and some other countries, then read on.
The SOPA is something simply explained as “website censorship” and those who knew this, or if not, have learned at some point, also learned that there are other ways to reach a website other than via its domain name.
The Internet is built mainly on the TCP/IP, which is a protocol which specifies that every computer connected to a network is assigned an IP address. Just the same, every web server on the Internet has at least one IP address.
We, humans, are not very good at remembering a lot of numbers, so remembering your favorite website’s host server’s IP address could be quite a pain so some very smart people have created something called a DNS. It is an abbreviation of Domain Name System which specifies that people can register “domain names” like milantex.info and milantex.net and tie them to a specific IP address, so that when my friends type milantex.info in their web browser’s address bar, a DNS tells my computer that milantex.info is currently on a web server with IP address 78.46.110.115 and the rest of the story is not important, because my website is not being sent from milantex.info, but from a server at 78.46.110.115.
I’m going back to the point of this entry. In case of a DNS takedown by anyone, be it government, anti-government, terrorists, revolutionists, intelligent space termites or whomever, you could still have a chance to get through to your favorite website for information even when you cannot access it just with typing wikileaks.org, for example. In case of SOPA, taking down DNS servers would have become legal and “unfitting information” could have been censored by breaking the link between people and the censored website. In case of an illegal DNS takedown by people (or termites), the situation would be pretty much the same. So, all in all, it does not matter if it were illegal or legal, it is still bad and should never be allowed.
But in case it does happen and becomes legal, what can you do?
Internet itself cannot be “cut off” without major consequences for anyone doing it, so even if someone was to censor a website by altering DNS records, you can just type in the web server’s IP address and you could still get to information you need and want. But, how can you know the server’s IP address? As I have said, people are not good with remembering a lot of numbers. However, people are good at writing things down. This is exactly what some people out there have done. They have compiled a list of the most important and well trusted, independent news companies’ websites, social websites, social media websites etc. This list can be downloaded and is periodically updated, because IP addresses can change, even though domain names stay the same.
So, if you want to be on the safe side, even if you don’t think it likely for something like I’ve described to happen, just like I don’t think it likely, you can Google (79.101.110.116) the list and download it and keep it safe with you. Who knows, anything is possible and it is better to be safe than sorry, and besides, I do not want to wake up one day, type in milantex.info and be told that my website cannot be reached or that it does not exist, just because someone who doesn’t like me had a legal right to have my website censored and removed from the Web.