We’ll Just Build Our Own Internet

While various world governments have been conspiring to censor the Internet groups of hackers have been hard at work finding mechanisms to bypass proposed censorship methods. Ultimately there is a limitation of what can be done because governments can force internet providers to comply with any demand so the only effective option is to setup an alternate Internet. Members of the Chaos Communications Congress have made an interesting proposal involved low-cost satellites:

The new plan calls for sending up home-made satellites into space as part of a Hackerspace Global Grid. The project includes low-cost ground stations to track and communicate with the satellites.

Anti-censorship activist Nick Farr, bothered by the world’s threats in blocking the free flow of information, started campaigning for contributions to the Grid earlier this year.

Launching communications satellites has been attempted in the past by some amateur groups but low-budget projects have not easily managed the task of tracking the devices.

According to reports, a few small satellites have gone into orbit but usually for brief periods only. Initiatives like space missions have required the big pockets of large public agencies and private companies, but Farr hopes his plan can work.

Farr and colleagues envision a grid of low-cost ground stations to track and communicate with the satellites. They are working with Constellation, which is a German aerospace research initiative. The initiative interlinks student projects.

Attempts to setup an alternative Internet have been proposed but none have succeeded. The main Achilles’ heel has been the hardware side of things. Unless an entirely independent architecture is setup government agencies still have control of the “kill switch” (that is the central points of control such as internet providers, root domain name system servers, etc.). The obvious solution involves wireless of some sort simply because running physical cable is very expensive and it’s unlikely independent entities will be able to get right of way agreements to perform such a task. While satellite communication has a high lag time it’s far better than nothing. You may not be able to play Call of Duty 11 on a satellite linkup but you can certainly communicate with other people in the world.