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Autonet - an autonomous internet

Repost | 23.06.2009 11:35 | Repression | Technology | Sheffield | World

Autonet is a project to create a wireless, global internet that can provide more reliability than corporate phone companies by being community based and freely licensed.

The cutting off access to The Pirate Bay by BT in the UK ( ) is just another sign of the beginning of the end. The fact that the Great Firewall of China exists signals that the internet is already obsolete and that the Great Firewall of the US is just around the corner. While moves against net neutrality began years ago and have been fought, nasty laws such as HR4437 and the Total Information Awareness program have a way of coming into existence later in the future, slightly modified, under different names. The internet as we know it, as a place for free exchange of information, as the center of what has been called a second 17th century with new ideas, creativity and innovation emerging daily, is rapidly coming to an end. We must use these last gasps of freedom to route around the disaster and create a truly free network.

How? Advances in wireless technology such as ubiquitous wireless routers, community mesh networks which are easily expandable and self-healing as well as long range wireless efforts such as HPWREN indicate a possible future for a community based internet free of the centralized control of telephone corporations and governments. While this is definitely a fork, more forks are to come and we can only hope that a few networks will emerge which can be broad enough to span most of the globe.

Major questions remain to be solved, such as speed issues, routing issues, DNS control, splits and neutrality. The Autonet, or Autonomous Internet project seems to begin to address this rapidly changing situation, where today Germany ( ) has installed internet filtering as well and more countries are to come. While today those cut off are defying copyright laws, tomorrow any other political issue may be the cause for being denied access to global networks. While today the FBI is content to steal servers from information providers like Indymedia, perhaps tomorrow they will not be happy until indymedia is completely cut off of the network, or other open sources of information such as blogs, twitter accounts and social networks of dissident groups.

The popular revolt in Iran and subsequent disruption of network access by the Iranian government is only a glimpse of what is to come in the US and around the world, where the first line of attack against political resistance is to cut off network access. By establishing a community based, wireless, global network we can allow groups of individuals, not corporations, to maintain freedom of communication; We can create out right to communicate instead of asking for it, and continue to route around obsolete intellectual property laws which restrict our dreams and our creativity. Join this effort by going to and contributing to this research, lets start outlining the problems, finding the technical solutions and work out the issues, collectively, as a Free Software / Open Hardware project, using open licensing.

Another urgent reason for Autonet is one that has motivated Free Software hackers for so long: Technological progress without a reliance on corporate support. Given the current financial and economic crises, how long can we expect dinosaurs like phone companies to survive? If one of these crises turns into disaster, the consequence is likely to be the disruption or collapse of the global networks on which we rely. I am not ready to give up what has been gained from these networks, including a worldwide communication between political actors empowered through fast information flows. We must start this long, difficult project today so that we may be ready for unexpected dangers which threaten our capability to communicate as a multitude, globally.

To add to the project, go to

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23.06.2009 12:37

Just what we need, more RF pollution. :|


Two problems

23.06.2009 14:49

I'm a fan of Community networks, despite the radiation, for various reasons. It doesn't seem well suited as an alternative to state controlled media in a repressive society for two reasons though.

1) Radio signals are easy to jam.
2) Radio transmissions are easily pinpointed.

Has anyone on your project dismissed these problems?


Jamming RF signals

23.06.2009 16:22

Danny, the fundamentals of the Internet go back to the Y stations in World War II. The Internet was designed to withstand many - not just one or two - disruptions to the infrastructure. The same should be true of an altenet created using wireless routers. By keeping modularity at the lowest level, it should actually be possible to reroute traffic around any blocking. That was part of the conceptualisation of the internet. Look up the appropriate RFC's. It becomes obvious that all the "great walls" are utterly stupid. All that is needed is to create "great doorways" that pass through the "walls" and the only limit then becomes bandwidth. Those creating technologies to restrict the Internet are simply painting themselves into a corner.


Difficulties ahead

23.06.2009 22:06

"The Internet was designed to withstand many - not just one or two - disruptions to the infrastructure. The same should be true of an altenet created using wireless routers. By keeping modularity at the lowest level, it should actually be possible to reroute traffic around any blocking."

The internet was designed by the US military to communicate when one or two nodes had been obliterated by a nuclear explosion. No comms system can operate without any gateway, and any radio system is vunerable to every node being jammed, especially if they work within 'legal' assigned frequencies. Even third world countries know how to jam specific RF transmissions, and how to identify and persecute the particpants.

The obvious way around that is to introduce redundant non-RF routes into your proposal. Numerous backup satellite phones, illicit cross border land-lines, that sort of thing. The fact I can envisage more obstacles that you have admitted here suggests I wait until you admit these issues before I chip in my tuppence worth. I was aiming to try something similar in Iraq a few years ago but the practicalities sunk me. If you search the archive here you might find one of my out-dated posts on WLANs.

I do wish you well though, it is a worthy endeavour.


comunication/or fornication.

24.06.2009 15:22

Thats why its important to hold onto the post office mail system = snail mail will fuck them all.But then we come to the question: Why be covert in a free society,if the answer is we don`t live in a free society then everyone should be demonstrating for one.
If WE? had any power how come its so fucked up.= APATHY. If you are not allowed protest then war is the answer surely,why should we be ruled by the unscrupulous ligging classes on a global scale.
You really do get what you deserve,politically speaking.
If the liggers were being dictated to, or even lesser reasons, by other regimes/countries,WE would be expected to take up arms on their behalf. So lets give them a good fucking within the next 5 years....I`m getting old.

al asitis