Computer hackers plan to protect the internet by launching own satellites

By Muriel Kane
Friday, December 30, 2011 22:43 EDT
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Forget science fiction — this one sounds like pure fantasy — but hackers at the Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin are dreaming of creating their own network of communications satellites and ground stations to forestall any attempt to control the internet.

They’d also like to put a hacker on the moon by 2035.

According to the BBC, hacker activist Nick Farr began calling for contributions to the Hackerspace Global Grid last August, spurred on by threats of online censorship such as that posed by the Stop Online Piracy Act.

The technical obstacles to such a plan might seem daunting. The BBC points out that “hobbyists have already put a few small satellites into orbit – usually only for brief periods of time — but tracking the devices has proved difficult for low-budget projects.” Participants in Farr’s project, however, believe that the tracking problem would be easy to address given sufficient funding.

The Chaos Computer Club, which was founded in 1981, has been a center of support for transparency, freedom of information, and the hacker ethic, and its annual congress is Europe’s largest hacker event. The CCC is best known for its hacks carried out to demonstrate security flaws, but now it appears to be turning into a center of hardware tinkering as well.

As described by the BBC, “When Mr Farr called for contributions to Hackerspace, Mr [Armin] Bauer and others decided to concentrate on the communications infrastructure aspect of the scheme. … In the open-source spirit of Hackerspace, Mr Bauer and some friends came up with the idea of a distributed network of low-cost ground stations that can be bought or built by individuals.”

“It’s kind of a reverse GPS,” Bauer explained. “GPS uses satellites to calculate where we are, and this tells us where the satellites are.”

Photo by Thenetwalker at de.wikipedia (Own work) [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Muriel Kane
Muriel Kane
Muriel Kane is an associate editor at Raw Story. She joined Raw Story as a researcher in 2005, with a particular focus on the Jack Abramoff affair and other Bush administration scandals. She worked extensively with former investigative news managing editor Larisa Alexandrovna, with whom she has co-written numerous articles in addition to her own work. Prior to her association with Raw Story, she spent many years as an independent researcher and writer with a particular focus on history, literature, and contemporary social and political attitudes. Follow her on Twitter at @Muriel_Kane
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