IDEA: Building the Subvernet

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darkspork
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IDEA: Building the Subvernet

Postby darkspork » Mon Nov 29, 2010 6:11 am UTC

The day will come, gentlemen, when those in power decide through a desire to further their own agenda and maintain power will deem it fit to suppress the Internet. China did it. Australia's doing it. The US is leaning this way too. It's an impossible task: there are proxies, mirrors, and all kinds of other means out there. The original DARPANET was made to protect the US Government's communications infrastructure in the event of a major nuclear war. Hell, if worst comes to worst we can always go back to dial-up modems with rogue ISPs, bulletin boards, IP over Carrier Pigeon, transmitting data over HAM radio, or any other option. You can't kill the Internet.

But you can wound it. Proxies can be slow, proxies can be blocked, and proxies can be traps. What I envision cannot be blocked. It's an Internet designed on torrents. Here are the goals:

1) No single point of failure - EVERY computer acts as tracker (DNS), proxy, fileserver, and client.
2) Plausible Deniability - No one computer will contain a complete version of any file it hasn't explicitly asked for, and no one computer can be entirely certain what files it is serving.
3) Encryption - Eve shouldn't be able to know what Alice is downloading without explicit access to her computer.
4) Transparency - The end user can use it with their normal web browser.
5) Certifiability - If a peer is misbehaving or acting malicious, it shouldn't be able to cause any damage.

I have a rough design for this system planned out that meets most of these requirements fairly well. Before I invest lots of time into planning and writing and coding this, I wanted to know:

1) Is this a terrible idea?
2) Does this already exist?
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RoadieRich
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Re: IDEA: Building the Subvernet

Postby RoadieRich » Mon Nov 29, 2010 8:04 am UTC

TOR (http://www.torproject.org/) does something fairly similar to what it sounds like you're describing. It doesn't provide the distributed server system you suggest, but it meets everything else. It was actually originally designed specifically for the situation you describe: circumventing government firewalls.
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Re: IDEA: Building the Subvernet

Postby Arancaytar » Mon Nov 29, 2010 11:43 am UTC

If I remember correctly, there are some infrastructural problems running a torrent entirely through tor (to wit, completely hosing the bandwidth), which would be the most primitive way to combine the two. Using a tor tracker while connecting normally takes away the single point of failure, but still leaves the peers vulnerable to identification, which is dangerous in a country that actively monitors the network.

I am not certain it is even possible to combine the ideals that the two implement: For tor, the philosophy that a high-performance, highly reliable connection is secondary to an anonymous one, and that secrecy trumps effectiveness, and for BitTorrent, the philosophy that a crowd of (non-anonymous) peers can collectively ensure a resource remains available, and that reliability trumps privacy. Maybe it'll have to be one or the other.
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darkspork
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Re: IDEA: Building the Subvernet

Postby darkspork » Mon Nov 29, 2010 5:25 pm UTC

This isn't so much a method of using BitTorrent as much as it is an implementation of HTTP based on the principles behind BitTorrent. The goal of this project is slightly different from Tor. Tor aims to protect anonymity and prevent clients from being censored. This aims to protect servers as well.
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nitePhyyre
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Re: IDEA: Building the Subvernet

Postby nitePhyyre » Mon Nov 29, 2010 6:38 pm UTC

I want! So how would you go about doing this?
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Re: IDEA: Building the Subvernet

Postby fazzone » Tue Nov 30, 2010 1:29 am UTC

I believe Freenet is like this, and has existed for a while
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Goplat
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Re: IDEA: Building the Subvernet

Postby Goplat » Wed Dec 01, 2010 3:38 am UTC

Here's the big problem: these kinds of networks can only work under an "innocent until proven guilty" legal system. There's nothing stopping the elite from saying "any communication we can't monitor has got to be child pornography or something", and prosecuting accordingly.


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