Anti-censorship app Lantern wants to become the SETI@home of free speech by Janko Roettgers.
From the post:
Facebook? Blocked. YouTube? Blocked. Twitter? Definitely blocked. Countries like China and Iran have been trying to control the flow of online information for years. Now, there’s an app that wants to take a page from the playbook of crowdsourced computing projects like SETI and poke holes in China’s so-called great firewall and other censorship efforts.
Lantern, as the project is called, is offering users in countries with internet censorship a proxy that unblocks social networks, news sites and political blogs. People in China and elsewhere have been using commercial proxies for years, resulting in a game of whack-a-mole, where censors would simply block access to the IP address of a proxy, forcing users to move on to the next available service.
Lantern wants to solve this issue through a P2P architecture: Users in censored countries don’t connect to a central server with an easily recognizable IP address, but instead route their website requests through a computer run by a volunteer in the U.S. or elsewhere. Lantern is a simple app available for Windows, OS X and Linux. Upon running it for the first time, users indicate whether they want to give access or get access to censored sites. And once it runs, the main UI is actually a data visualization that shows usage of the app around the world in real-time.
Janko has a great summary of the current status of Lantern and its bid to help users avoid censorship.
Lantern is focused on the problem of censorship, which is an important issue in many parts of the world.
But the same principles, that of a P2P network, should be applicable to a no-censorship but track everything network such as in the United States and elsewhere.
If you don’t think a record of your web traffic, so-called “metadata,” might provide information about you, exchange browser histories with another user.
A robust P2P solution would not prevent tracking entirely, but it could make it too burdensome to be practical in most cases. Like all security, it is a question of secure enough for some purpose and length of time.
Lantern is a project to track and contribute to if you find censorship and/or tracking problematic.