What is Project Meshnet?


#1

Just Free Software isn’t enough for a Free & Equal Society.

For a society to be free & equal without exploitation, it needs freedom in various aspects like software, hardware, economy, art & culture and the way how people create and redistribute resources among themselves.

The past and current systems have introduced a lot of middlemen in every sector right from Software, Hardware, Literature, Economy, Art & Culture, etc., These middlemen do very very little work compared to the actual creators and then they setup a medium to connect the creators and consumers.

These middlemen now act as gatekeepers exploiting both the creators and consumers. For a free society to exist, these middlemen should cease to exist and with respect to computer networks / digital connectivity, the middlemen here can be identified as,

  1. Internet Service Provider Giants who controls the Internet’s backbone &
  2. Centralized Web Platform Giants who captures the value of data generated by people over the web & Internet.

Project meshnet is an idea to build wireless community networks, which means people come together to setup their own infrastructure to form a network. This network will be peer-to-peer in nature instead of hierarchical. Thus every device connected to this network are treated equal and every device helps every other device in the networks by passing the data in between them.

Consider the following network design,

There are two neighbor houses.

  • House 1 &
  • House 2

Both houses have a Wi-Fi Device (Router + Modem) to which their smartphones and computers are connected to respectively. For Internet, both houses have a dedicated wired line that is connected to the modem in each house. This infrastructure and the dedicated line for each house is provided by organizations like BSNL, Airtel, etc., (in India). Because they provide dedicated lines for getting connected to Internet they are called ISP (Internet Service Provider).

What usually happens is, the Wi-Fi devices in both the houses will be password protected so that people at House 2 cannot connect to Wi-Fi of House 1 and vice-versa. This is because each of them separately pay for the service. Even though both houses can receive the wi-fi signal of each other they can’t communicate directly due to fact that their wi-fi devices don’t talk to each other (though it is possible).

All the communication that happens between house 1 and house 2 has to go through the Internet Service Provider’s line which puts the ISP in control. Now the ISP has the power to listen through your communications (if everything was a HTTP call) and they can (under normal circumstances they usually don’t) block the communication that happens between you and your neighbor. Now extend this scenario to entire street, city, district, state, county, continents and the world. This is what is happening. Though Internet by nature is a decentralized community driven global network, very few corporations / organizations have taken the infrastructure of the network in their control thus making the decentralized network a centralized one. The Internet’s infrastructure is taken over by them.

And this centralized power is what enables them to violate Net Neutrality, censor websites / information, mass collection of data about everyone (mass surveillance)

[post under construction - will be edited and updated often]