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Architecture for a free internet


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#1 Taoki

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 07:23 PM

First of all, I'm not sure if this area is also a place for debate and discussion of network technologies, or just for technical support. So please move this topic if it's in the wrong forum section. Anyway, this is what I'm interested about:

Since the internet is threatened with censorship even in the civilized world (such as SOPA), my interest in a free, open and safe network has been increasing. This consists in the idea of "alternative internets", as well as secure connections to the actual internet. By secure connection, I mean a connection which isn't owned by a single person / ISP (that can be shut down by knocking at one door) and which is safe from legal interference and censorship. At this day, such a thing looks difficult to achieve at global scale. But I've seen some interesting ideas for building alternate networks, which I'd love to know more about.

One alternative that's been considered are amateur satellites, which some hacker groups spoke about launching to offer free uncensored internet to the world. I'm not sure how possible and safe they are however. Here are some links:

http://www.tgdaily.com/security-features/60535-hacker-satellite-grid-to-counter-internet-censorship
http://www.zdnet.com/news/hackers-aim-to-launch-internet-satellite-network-moon-mission/6335491
http://www.technewsworld.com/story/Skynet-Hackers-Dream-Up-Censor-Proof-Satellite-Internet-Grid-74098.html
http://www.webpronews.com/hackers-satellite-internet-sopa-2012-01
http://www.securitynewsdaily.com/hacker-satellites-internet-censorship-1457/

Still, the best way to do this in my opinion ends at one term: Mesh networking. This consists of many or all users of a network contributing with nodes, making those who connect to the internet also offer a connection to people near them (which is how internet should actually work IMO). Wireless nodes are the first method. One way that's currently undergoing in some cities are wireless nodes being placed in public areas, making sure there's internet in any location. But since they're owned by authorities and have an ISP as an ending point, I doubt their censorship safety. So as I see things, the easiest way would be normal people buying WLAN nodes and hanging them from the window, configuring them to amplify and re-transmit the signal received from other nodes like itself. If enough people in an area do that, each computer can get connected to each other, and establish an own internet or a common method to access the internet.

The second method (which would be an easier alternative at this day) would be computer software using the existing cables and architecture, which would establish access nodes via LAN, similar to a shared internet connection. Basically: If a person that has no internet is connected in a Local Area Network with his neighbors, he could install the software obtaining connections via nodes. Then, his computer would find the nearest neighbor which runs such a node (the fastest) and connect to it. From that node, it would connect to the next fastest node, and so on. The nodes would eventually lead to the ending point, which is the resource the initial computer is trying to access. If that resource is not directly available on a computer connected to the nodes, it could look for a node connected to an ISP, and use its internet connection. Such a method would obviously be slow, and transfer rate could be as bad as a 56k modem. But if aiming for an open network, it's better than nothing.

In either case, my initial dream is that one day, the entire internet will work this way. Because if all computers in a network use each other to get to a resource (and that resource is mirrored in multiple places), having more than one connection path being available, the only way the government could censor it is by either disrupting the signal, or by sending SWAT teams in the house of each citizen. Computers would also choose the best connection, which could rather improve speed in some cases. A team called the "free network movement" seems to be working on this already. Here's an illustration of what I mean exactly:

Posted Image

Overall, my question is: How achievable is this at the current day, on global or at least national scale? Obviously not tomorrow, but in a few years perhaps. Also, do you think it will happen, and someone can implement a new architecture for internet worldwide, that enough people would agree to contribute to? As for a concrete question, I'd like to know if there already is any software which can do what I described (hosting and using nodes to get to a shared resource). At first I thought TOR does that, but TOR nodes can only be accessed over the internet instead. I'd like to hear more about this topic, so let me know what you all think :)

Edited by hamluis, 07 January 2012 - 09:46 AM.
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#2 keyboardNinja

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Posted 07 January 2012 - 03:37 AM

Wow, I see you've put a lot of thought into this.

I agree with you about having a "free internet", and I'm sure at some point when the internet is censored by the government (no, it may not happen with SOPA, but one day it probably will), smaller "node" networks (an Internet underground, if you will) will pop up. People will find a way to communicate.

How exactly this will be implemented is beyond me, however. I don't have the expertise to begin discussing the possibilities, but it is interesting to think about.

This is possibly a debate topic (IMO at least), so I will ask my fellow staff members what they think. It's possible it could be moved to another sub-forum. But keep up the discussion. I like the way you think. :thumbup2:
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#3 Taoki

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Posted 07 January 2012 - 07:26 AM

keyboardNinja: Thank you, I'm glad you like my idea! I've been putting a lot of thought and heart into this, and looking for more people who are interested in making it a reality... even if it might seem like a technology of the future. As for implementation, it can differ. At this moment, I'm most interested in seeing it done with existing hardware (normal network cards and wireless routers / AP's). Which from what I can tell, is achievable with either a Local Area Connection (each computer in the LAN acting as a node with some hosting the target resource), or by maintaining wired / wireless nodes separately. The best way would be network cards or routers supporting the technology natively, but that's an even more distant thought.

Considering the possibilities available at this day, the first thing I'm looking for is software that can do this using local area networks. Windows allows connecting two computers in a LAN, sharing resources, and so on. But as far as I'm aware, it doesn't support using computers as nodes, and finding the best path from point A to point B through an entire cloud. If anyone knows of such a program for Windows and Linux, please tell me! So far, the only name I heard is MeshKit, but there doesn't appear to be a download yet. I also read that such networks are usually called "darknet", and some people (even criminal groups) establish them for private communications.

My biggest fear is that the government might find a way to block this technology from developing, by making parts for it illegal, if it's desperate enough to censor everything. But if everyone wills this even half as much as me, I'm sure we'll make it happen. I can barely understand programming languages, but I'm considering making open source software that can do it if I can somehow. Either way, I'd like to hear more thoughts about this, so please leave more replies and stuff :)

#4 lora777

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Posted 07 January 2012 - 11:39 AM

It seems to me that sites are already starting to go down...

The internet, the last of free speech is almost gone from the world.

I know I sound like doom and gloom...but it's been coming for a long time and is a reality... Many have tried to sound the alarm to only be ridiculed and worse threatened and some killed.

For those of you that are not aware, you will be soon enough.

#5 the_patriot11

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Posted 07 January 2012 - 12:49 PM

eh personally I dont see SOPA going through, and even if the "government" tries to censor the internet, I see them failing miserably. The thing with computers-is that no matter who tries to control access, no matter how "secure" people try to make it or their home computers or anything-people find ways around it. Will the government try censoring it? probably, but people will always find ways around it. Don't believe me? just follow all the stunts anonymous has been pulling-and getting away with as of lately. Now I don't necessarily agree with everything anonymous has been doing-but they have been circumventing a lot of "secure" web servers and the like and going around stuff, and Im sure theyre likely planning something against sopa as well, if their reputation holds up.

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#6 lora777

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Posted 07 January 2012 - 04:54 PM

It will curtail everything... and snow ball. .. It's just like all the bills they pass saying they do one thing but in reality do something else... This is about censorship plain and simple and I cannot for the life me understand how people can be so trusting, naive and blind...but they are.... Everyday people that understand the ramifications, keep their mouths shut and those that don't, are the main influence because of it. . And I can assure you, I will be keeping my big mouth shut shortly.

Edited by lora777, 07 January 2012 - 04:57 PM.


#7 jgweed

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Posted 08 January 2012 - 07:26 AM

Considering the bill was written by Congress, many of whom are technically "challenged"---if not intellectually---it has significant implementation problems and internet ramifications, not to mention the potential (once the foot is in the door) to provide a quick means for censorship. Just as importantly, there is a trend world-wide by various governments (not just China) to prevent freedom of information and the diffusing of knowledge, as well as to thwart international communication between individuals---what, in other words, makes the internet so axial for the modern world.
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#8 Taoki

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Posted 09 January 2012 - 08:48 AM

I think there's enough opposition to SOPA that it won't pass. I'm still very scared at the thought it might however, until I see it destroyed. The best way to be sure is for everyone to do whatever they can against it, make their voice heard, and even be ready to riot if it gets to that. We have been using the internet freely for years, and none of us can allow such a thing. If we truly won't allow it, SOPA won't pass.

Anyway, I would prefer keeping this topic on the technical discussion, and the idea of parallel internet(s) based on mesh networking. For the SOPA debate itself, there are probably other topics on this forum... which I'm trying to avoid due to how stressful the matter has gotten to me.

Like I said, I believe that mesh networking will be the safest way to have an uncensored internet if the global network will really be brought down. I don't understand why there's no software for this already, and I'm trying to learn C / C++ / C# so I can attempt to make something myself. Is there really no news on this idea, and no one else trying to do it?

#9 lora777

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Posted 09 January 2012 - 10:07 PM

Perhaps those that would have the ability and ambition to do what your talking about don't broadcast it.

Edited by lora777, 09 January 2012 - 10:09 PM.


#10 Alexander Caldwell

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 02:49 PM

I'm not sure if this has been addressed yet, but some people who host nodes are logging information about the users who use their nodes. Such as if you log your credentials into a site and it uses bad security or you don't use https to log in. I agree with the idea of a anonymous internet though. One thing would be a large proxy server that people connect to from their browser or download onto their computer, similar to tor except it encrypts the data then sends it to the computer and once on the computer it decrypts the data or saves it so you can decrypt it when you feel the need to. As for free internet we just need to start a nonprofit that gets a few satellites up into space. The nonprofit would have to be separate from any corporate institutions though. What do you think of this idea?




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