Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Hackers Launching Satellite to Evade Internet Censorship

By - Source: IT World | B 51 comments

A group of hackers plans to launch a separate internet using amateur satellites and $130 ground stations.

What do you do when Hollywood and the government team up to enforce censorship on the internet with the likes of SOPA and Protect-IP? Launch another government-free internet, of course.

During the Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin back in August -- an annual hacker conference sponsored by the German Chaos Computer Club -- a team of German hackers revealed plans to launch their own communication satellites into space in order to create a separate, "uncensorable" network called the Hackerspace Global Grid (HGG).

"The first goal is an uncensorable Internet in space. Let's take the Internet out of the control of terrestrial entities," said activist Nick Farr.

According to the report, the team will start by launching three prototype ground stations in the first half of 2012, and then launch at least one satellite into low orbit to communicate specifically with those stations. "It's kind of a reverse GPS," explained Armin Bauer, an HGG participant. "GPS uses satellites to calculate where we are, and this tells us where the satellites are. We would use GPS coordinates but also improve on them by using fixed sites in precisely-known locations."

The group stated that the ground stations will cost around $130 USD each to establish, but the satellite itself will require a substantial amount of financial backing, as it will need to hitch a ride with a rocket rather than float up into the cold void via a balloon-based solution. Additional reports claim that the satellite will likely be based on work done to develop low-cost satellites by the Amateur Radio Satellite (AMSAT) association in England and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd.

Given the new Internet would eventually rely on an array of low orbit amateur satellites, there's speculation that the overall network stability would be spotty at best, as these satellites typically orbit every ninety minutes. That means there will be times when they won't be visible to tracking devices.

"That's not to say they can't be used for communications but obviously only for the relatively brief periods that they are in your view," explains one professor. "It's difficult to see how such satellites could be used as a viable communications grid other than in bursts, even if there were a significant number in your constellation."

News of the possible pirate internet arise as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) bill makes its way through the Senate. Along with the PROTECT IP act, the duo gives content owners the right to take down websites they believe are infringing on their copyright. That includes mere links to content that possibly infringes on a copyright, and if that link isn't removed as requested, then the copyright owner can have the website's advertising and transaction revenue severed. Even more, the domain name itself - whether it's local or overseas -- could even be thrown on a blacklist, leaving the site inaccessible.

Last week Farr said that SOPA is a perfect example of why the group desires a separate network. In addition to launching their satellite and three prototype ground stations, the team will expand the network by distributing working models of the prototype ground station to those attending the next Chaos Communication Congress in 2012. The stations will also be sold on a non-profit basis.

"We're aiming for 100 euros (£84) per ground station," Bauer added. "That is the amount people tell us they would be willing to spend."

Discuss
Display all 51 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 40 Hide
    house70 , January 4, 2012 3:18 PM
    I have a better solution: load all the morons that came up with this SOPA and SOPA-like projects, together with all the politicians that support these, in a few rockets, aim for the Sun and launch. It would be expensive to lift all these fat ar$e$, but I'm sure people will pitch in for that.
  • 31 Hide
    rawful , January 4, 2012 3:15 PM
    Now this is something I'd like to see. If we can make it so we don't need the corporate networks anymore, they will wither and die. A truly free internet? It is about time.
  • 24 Hide
    Anonymous , January 4, 2012 3:30 PM
    As much as I'd like to see this, it will never happen. Costs alone will keep the satellite from ever being launched. Even if does get launched, people would never put up with the spotty coverage. It would be better for the time and money to be spent finding ways around government efforts to control internet traffic.
Other Comments
  • 31 Hide
    rawful , January 4, 2012 3:15 PM
    Now this is something I'd like to see. If we can make it so we don't need the corporate networks anymore, they will wither and die. A truly free internet? It is about time.
  • 40 Hide
    house70 , January 4, 2012 3:18 PM
    I have a better solution: load all the morons that came up with this SOPA and SOPA-like projects, together with all the politicians that support these, in a few rockets, aim for the Sun and launch. It would be expensive to lift all these fat ar$e$, but I'm sure people will pitch in for that.
  • -8 Hide
    officeguy , January 4, 2012 3:24 PM
    Now the Aliens can look up porn with it being censored!!
  • 24 Hide
    Anonymous , January 4, 2012 3:30 PM
    As much as I'd like to see this, it will never happen. Costs alone will keep the satellite from ever being launched. Even if does get launched, people would never put up with the spotty coverage. It would be better for the time and money to be spent finding ways around government efforts to control internet traffic.
  • 4 Hide
    ahnilated , January 4, 2012 3:37 PM
    Are they nuts? The other govt's would just shoot the satellite down.
  • 1 Hide
    sosofm , January 4, 2012 3:49 PM
    That satellite will not stay to long on sky. The autorities will take down.
  • 1 Hide
    mrmaia , January 4, 2012 3:53 PM
    Sounds FANTASTIC, but this'll never be put in good practice. Also, who guarantees Chaos Club, or whoever controls the network, won't sell everyone out like Google and Facebook do?

    What people can do is outright boycott the supporters as much as possible, like what happened to GoDaddy (although I think they still support SOPA behind the scenes).
  • -8 Hide
    neon871 , January 4, 2012 3:55 PM
    I plan on going to the moon one day too, Tom please post my news on you web site too please, thanks your the best!
  • 21 Hide
    Netherscourge , January 4, 2012 3:55 PM

    SCREW THE CLOUD! WE'RE GOING INTO ORBIT!!!!!

    I love this idea. I support 100%.
  • 0 Hide
    COLGeek , January 4, 2012 4:04 PM
    It will take a bunch of these to make a useable network unless they figure out a way to provide nuclear power plants and massively capable transceivers.

    This concept has been considered elsewhere (try looking at psuedolites at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudolite). Providing enough power to be effective and enough devices to provide mesh of coverage are significant challenges. Then there is the whole issue of airspace/space management.
  • 0 Hide
    mcd023 , January 4, 2012 4:11 PM
    Quote:
    "The first goal is an uncensorable Internet in space. Let's take the Internet out of the control of terrestrial entities,"


    only extra-terrestrial entities can sensor the internet! This day...is OUR Independence Day!
  • 4 Hide
    lockhrt999 , January 4, 2012 4:17 PM
    I'd love to see them hacking on 10Kbps connection.
  • 6 Hide
    tokencode , January 4, 2012 4:32 PM
    Use the lowspeed uncensored network to provide information (DNS resolution, encrpytions keys etc) to establish an encrypted highspeed tunnel/connection on the terestrial networks.
  • 11 Hide
    thething , January 4, 2012 4:38 PM
    The USA can't control the internet outside their territory, and if they try to, they will be resisted, and this initiative will be the first of many, in my opinion.
  • 0 Hide
    Onus , January 4, 2012 4:44 PM
    Stopping piracy isn't the issue; after all Tom's does not support piracy, and threads even mentioning it as an option tend to get closed quickly in the forums. It's the whole "guilty until proven innocent" problem of SOPA that needs to die a grisly death.

    More on topic, I see this as a very spotty temporary "solution" at best. Should it become measurably effective, you can be certain it will be shut down and/or the satellites shot down, making it ultimately a waste.
  • -1 Hide
    gm0n3y , January 4, 2012 4:52 PM
    tokencodeUse the lowspeed uncensored network to provide information (DNS resolution, encrpytions keys etc) to establish an encrypted highspeed tunnel/connection on the terestrial networks.

    If you throw a proxy or 2 into the mix to circumvent restricted IPs then that could actually work. Of course its no permanent long-term guarantee though. Personally I'd like to see a new protocol (not TCP/IP) and wireless infrastructure.
  • 0 Hide
    danjimaru , January 4, 2012 5:09 PM
    NZB and VPN that's the solution. But obviously those who started nzb have too big of a lead, I pressume. Obviously there are many ways to launder a few dirty millions on the web. Shooting a rocket up to space is not one of them.
  • 4 Hide
    xx_pemdas_xx , January 4, 2012 5:38 PM
    Why don't we just host the server outside of US? anyone who knows anything about hacking can get around the censorship.
  • -1 Hide
    captaincharisma , January 4, 2012 5:49 PM
    i predict the ultimate fire sale happening in the near future if this gets launched
Display more comments
Tom’s guide in the world
  • Germany
  • France
  • Italy
  • Ireland
  • UK
Follow Tom’s guide
Subscribe to our newsletter