Hackernoon logoWhen you’re blocked online, can you just DIY your own internet? by@sh4rmini

When you’re blocked online, can you just DIY your own internet?

Sharmini R Hacker Noon profile picture

@sh4rminiSharmini R

#blockchain #bitcoin #ethereum #mysteriumnetwork

It’s only January of 2021, but the Internet has already reached maximum meme levels.

First Trump tried to ban TikTok. Then TikTok banned Trump - along with every other social media platform, with Twitter leading the charge.

Now the internet has become an ethical battleground, with politicians and big tech fighting it out in this increasingly grey area as they decide who has the right to moderate certain kinds of content and speech.

But censorship itself is just a tool. Different governments and corporations use it in different ways, and for vastly different reasons. How it’s applied in our social and political lives is what matters. 

In Uganda, censorship was used by a dictator to disrupt a democratic election by shutting down the internet and denying access to social media. In the US, it’s being used to help stop the coordination of domestic terrorist attacks on online forums run by volunteer moderators.

But at the end of the day, it shouldn’t be any one entity that gets to control and moderate the free flow of information and ideas online.

It’s us, everyday netizens, who should have the final word on free speech.

From Asia to Africa, the internet plays a more vital role than ever in our political freedoms.

Beyond moderation, a quarter of the Internet’s users don’t even have complete, open access to it. A series of separate, "sovereign" internets are being fenced off by governments all over the world for reasons that seem purely political.

In places where democractic practices such as the right to protest and free speech are forbidden, the internet is often the only glimpse into any alternative reality. Yet in 47 countries, users can be arrested for posting, sharing or even “liking” something on Facebook.

It comes as no surprise then that over a quarter of the world’s internet users depend on a VPN for daily internet access and privacy. Sadly, in regions with pervasive censorship and state-controlled internet, they are illegal, or simply don’t work. 

And internet censorship is only expected to get worse in 2021. 

So whether it’s big tech or ruling dictators, there should be no way for someone to just flip a switch and deny anyone else access to the web. 

Source: Access Now

From oligarch to republic

Many people (including Twitter’s own CEO, Jack Dorsey) believe that corporate censorship sets a dangerous precedent.

We can all agree that hate speech and inciting violence is inexcusable and intolerable. Yet how can we normalise the behaviour of businesses setting the social standards for freedom of expression?

This is surely a slippery slope. 

These businesses already set the standard when it comes to internet infrastructure itself. And every year the number of data breaches continues to rise, with billions of more records exposed.

This is because there are very few enforced practices when it comes to building the websites and apps which make up the internet today. Businesses, including VPNs, are free to track their users and store their data centrally, which is insecure.

While new legislation such as GDPR is a step in the right direction, it does nothing on the infrastructural level, which is why data hacks occur on a weekly basis.

Traditionally, companies such as Amazon Web Services and Cloudflare treat the web as a privately owned commodity, when in fact, the internet is public infrastructure.

The internet belongs to everyone. And just as with public utility companies like electricity and water, there are ways to turn the internet into a publicly managed and powered space. We call this Web 3.0

This new kind of decentralized web means we can shift governance processes to people, rather than businesses, so we all become gatekeepers. This new ownership model for internet infrastructure would drastically change the way we not only run it - more accessible, secure and free - but the ways we prevent things like dangerous hate speech. It’s all ruled by democratic, peer-to-peer accountability.

We need to protect the internet from governments and corporations, who only care about protecting their bottom lines.

The internet is our shared home of free information and expression. It’s also the home of cat videos, memes, Wikipedia and your favourite COVID-19 lockdown series.

Introducing Mysterium VPN

While you can use a VPN to stay secure and connected, a regular VPN is also just a band-aid fix for a deeply flawed infrastructural problem.

The current VPN market is an oligopoly, led by a handful of private companies who have failed to innovate. Running on centralized servers, they can store logs of all their users’ browsing activity. This represents a central point of failure , as these servers can be hacked and personal data exposed (not looking at you, NordVPN... 👀)

Mysterium’s decentralized VPN is a hybrid of Tor and a regular VPN; it leverages a resiential node network like Tor's, but provides the seamless user experience of a VPN. Mysterium is built on the WireGuard and OpenVPN protocols, so we follow best industry practices. 

The network is made up of people who effectively "lend their digital freedom". While you have to pay to use regular VPNs (which are just businesses turning a profit), in the case of a decentralized VPN, users pay peers (nodes) within the distributed network to connect to their residential IP address. 

This open, peer-to-peer marketplace is permissionless, meaning there’s no intermediary and anyone can join. It’s also trustless, meaning peers can transact anonymously and without needing to trust each other.

Thanks to this P2P  architecture, it’s technologically impossible for Mysterium Network to log your browsing activity or data, unlike regular VPNs.

Some unique features that set Mysterium apart from regular VPNs:

💌 Pay-as-you-go - no contracts, no subscriptions, no locked-in costs. Only pay for what you actually use (by the megabyte or minute).

No email needed - just open up and switch off whenever you need. No personal details ever required.

💸 Pay with cryptocurrency - censorship-resistant and untraceable, so you can pay for your privacy the truly anonymous way.

🕵️‍♂️ No logging - our decentralised infrastructure means no central servers run by businesses. We can’t hand over data to anyone, even if legally requested.

🤝 Peer to peer - Mysterium is powered by the very people who use it, helping to create a secure and censorship-resistant layer of the internet. 

😴 Earn while you sleep - turn your computer or Raspberry Pi into a node and let it run in the background, so you can earn while you work or sleep.

🔍 Open source - our code has been open-source since day one, so you can verify our level of encryption (and no logs claim). Github here.

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(Here’s a sneak peek screen recording of our new mobile app UI, soon to be released.)

Download the dVPN today for Android, Mac and Windows and get some test MYST tokens to try before you buy. iOS coming soon.


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