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The war against online censorship and surveillance recently saw a formidable development that could turn the tide in favor of internet freedom and privacy. Cloudflare, the notable internet infrastructure titan, has unveiled support for the Encrypted Client Hello (ECH) privacy feature, essentially creating a sanctuary for free speech advocates and challenging established site-blocking endeavors.
For the uninitiated, as TorrentFreak reported, web blocking has been the entertainment sector’s favored anti-piracy tool for over a decade and a half. Employed in more than forty nations, this method involves Internet Service Providers (ISPs) blocking access to specific websites, often under a legal directive. While it started with rudimentary DNS blockades, the system evolved, employing sophisticated Server Name Indication (SNI) eavesdropping techniques, or sometimes a mix. But it has also been used as a way for governments to censor websites and block access.
However, the landscape began shifting as privacy-centric technologies, like Encrypted DNS, emerged to challenge these blockades. Now, the introduction of ECH is poised to revolutionize this arena, making ISP’s surveillance efforts mostly, if not entirely, ineffective.
Described simplistically, ECH is an innovative privacy protocol engineered to mask internet traffic, thwarting any monitoring efforts. Browser giants like Chrome, Firefox, and Edge have already given a nod to its implementation. Yet, for its potential to be fully realized, websites must also incorporate it. Cloudflare’s decision to eventually integrate ECH by default in all its free plans, serving countless websites, signifies a giant stride towards widespread adoption.
This development has stirred the waters of the anti-piracy world. Preliminary evaluations by TorrentFreak confirm that when ECH is correctly set up, it can neutralize site-blocking efforts. Notably, the UK, Netherlands, and Spain witnessed their ISP’s blockades becoming obsolete. Yet, it’s crucial to note that for sites to bypass these blockades, they must have ECH active.
In an era marked by censorship, surveillance, and privacy invasions, Cloudflare’s step reinforces the belief in the undying spirit of free speech and the right to privacy.
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