Quick Primer On DNS
DNS is the directory of the Internet. Whenever you click on a link, send an email, open a mobile app, often one of the first things that has to happen is your device needs to look up the address of a domain. There are two sides of the DNS network: Authoritative (the content side) and Resolver (the consumer side).
Every domain needs to have an Authoritative DNS provider. Cloudflare, since our launch in September 2010, has run an extremely fast and widely-used Authoritative DNS service. 184.108.40.206 doesn’t (directly) change anything about Cloudflare’s Authoritative DNS service.
On the other side of the DNS system are resolvers. Every device that connects to the Internet needs a DNS resolver. By default, these resolvers are automatically set by whatever network you’re connecting to. So, for most Internet users, when they connect to an ISP, or a coffee shop wifi hot spot, or a mobile network then the network operator will dictate what DNS resolver to use.
DNS’s Privacy Problem
The problem is that these DNS services are often slow and not privacy respecting. What many Internet users don’t realize is that even if you’re visiting a website that is encrypted — has the little green lock in your browser — that doesn’t keep your DNS resolver from knowing the identity of all the sites you visit. That means, by default, your ISP, every wifi network you’ve connected to, and your mobile network provider have a list of every site you’ve visited while using them.
Network operators have been licking their chops for some time over the idea of taking their users’ browsing data and finding a way to monetize it. In the United States, that got easier a year ago when the Senate voted to eliminate rules that restricted ISPs from selling their users’ browsing data. With all the concern over the data that companies like Facebook and Google are collecting on you, it worries us to now add ISPs like Comcast, Time Warner, and AT&T to the list. And, make no mistake, this isn’t a US-only problem — ISPs around the world see the same privacy-invading opportunity.