Since news broke of the NSA’s common practice of snooping on American citizens, people have been a little more cautious about what they transmit across the web.
However, we have become accustomed to the Internet being a main source of communication. Shouldn’t we be able to expect a certain level or privacy? Apparently not.
The only way we will be able to expect any sort of privacy while communicating over the Internet is if we take control of the Internet. Just as we expect a certain level of privacy in our homes, if we gain ownership of the Internet, then we should be able to expect a certain level of privacy. And that is exactly what people are doing. They are creating and owning their very own Internet; a private Meshnet.
Meshnets are homegrown projects that are popping up worldwide; and they are picking up steam. Basically, these homegrown projects are a series of independent channels that are controlled by the creators and independent of any commercial ISP that is subject to the NSA.
New Scientist describes how the Meshnet works in general:
“Each node in the mesh, consisting of a radio transceiver and a computer, relays messages from other parts of the network. If the data can’t be passed by one route, the meshnet finds an alternative way through to its destination.” (1)
These Meshnets are not isolated to any one region. They are popping up all over the world, from Seattle to Maryland to Athens, Greece.
In Seattle, there is some coverage, but not much. However, Dan Ryan, and Seattle-based Meshnet Activist, hopes it will grow to include all of downtown Seattle.
In Greece, local Athenians set up WIFI antennas to create their own private mesh. The group is about 1,000 strong and they use their meshnet to send messages, video chat, and trade huge files without requiring any access to the mainstream Internet.
All of this activity is independent from the mainstream Internet; therefore, away from the prying eyes of the NSA. Joseph Bonicioli told Mother Jones, “It’s like a whole other web. It’s our network, but it’s also a playground.” (2)
Do You Have to Be a Computer Guru to Start One?
Even though creating or even just participating in such an endeavor sounds like a vast technological task, even the everyday non-programmer can get involved in a Meshnet through the numerous groups out there.
One such group is Project Meshnet. They state:
“Our objective is to create a versatile, decentralized network built on secure protocols for routing traffic over private mesh or public internetworks independent of a central supporting infrastructure.” (3)
This organization provides you with all of the tools, instructions, and even methods to finding peers to get you started on the Meshnet. The site also gives you tips on the best equipment to buy and where to get started. According to Project Meshnet, there are participants in Canada, U.S., U.K., and Oceania. In the U.S., the site lists local groups in:
–> San Francisco
–> New York City
The project is being run as a totally open source project. For more information about Project Meshnet, visit https://projectmeshnet.org/.
The Meshnet seems to have been created out of necessity. With the government’s constant attempt to censor the Internet coupled with the recent government spying cases being brought to light, the Meshnet is growing in popularity across the globe.
It is almost certain as more cases of the government infringement upon our right to privacy come to light, even while we are on the Internet, these groups will continue to grow.
Honestly, the idea of an Internet channel that is totally owned and operated by an individual without the need corporate interference or government monitoring, which allows for the free exchange of ideas and open communication, sounds pretty good to me.