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Banned sites are blocked better with SNI tech fix

Feb 14,2019
The media regulator has just made it more difficult to access foreign pornographic and gambling sites.

The Korea Communications Commission (KCC) announced Tuesday that it teamed up with domestic internet service providers, including KT, LG U+ and SK Broadband, to strengthen the access ban on 895 illegal foreign sites beginning from this Monday.

Previously, the commission had only banned the URL, or the web address, of illegal foreign sites. That still allowed users to access the sites if they changed the web address from “http” to the more secure “https,” thereby bypassing the URL ban by encrypting communication between the user’s computer browser and website.

To make the ban more effective, the commission worked with the tech companies to develop a more advanced method of blocking web access by using Server Name Indication (SNI) technology. According to the KCC, SNI enables browsers to receive un-encrypted signals from the servers that users try to access, meaning that it can block sites starting with “https” as well.

The KCC said it will focus on blocking sites with child pornography, illegal films and gambling.

Given the nature of SNI technology, according to the commission, illegal sites will black out when users try to access them. Before, warning messages had appeared when users attempted access.

“The National Assembly and media have constantly called for the strengthening of regulations against illegal foreign sites, and we expect that the new measures can effectively ban such sites,” said a spokesperson from the commission.

“We will try to build a healthy internet environment and protect victims of digital sexual crimes as well as the rights of content creators like Webtoon artists.”

Korean internet users were quick to express their dissatisfaction with the change.

A petition on the Blue House website that opposed the newly-strengthened ban attracted more than 140,000 signatures in just two days as of Wednesday at 6 p.m. “This could be the beginning of censorship,” the petitioner argued, saying that the “https” internet protocol was created for the purpose of securing personal information and data.

A KCC statement said the SNI method has nothing to do with “communication or data eavesdropping,” as the technology only automatically checks for whether the servers need to be banned.


BY KIM EUN-JIN [kim.eunjin1@joongang.co.kr]