Hackers Said to be Planning to Launch Own Satellites to Combat Censorship
By Christina DesMarais
Hackers reportedly plan to fight back against Internet censorship by putting their own communications satellites into orbit and developing a grid of ground stations to track and communicate with them.
The news comes as the tech world is up in arms about proposed legislation that many feel would threaten online freedom.
According to BBC News, the satellite plan was recently outlined at the Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin. It’s being called the “Hackerspace Global Grid.”
If you don’t like the idea of hackers being able to communicate better, hacker activist Nick Farr said knowledge is the only motive of the project, which also includes the development of new electronics that can survive in space, and launch vehicles that can get them there.
Farr and his cohorts are working on the project along with Constellation, a German aerospace research initiative that involves interlinked student projects.
You might think it would be hard for just anybody to put a satellite into space, but hobbyists and amateurs have been able in recent years to use balloons to get them up there. However, without the deep pockets of national agencies or large companies they have a hard time tracking the devices.
To better locate their satellites, the German hacker group came up with the idea of a sort of reverse GPS that uses a distributed network of low-cost ground stations that can be bought or built by individuals.
Supposedly, these stations would be able to pinpoint satellites at any given time while improving the transmission of data from the satellites to Earth.
The plan isn’t without limitations.
For one thing, low orbit satellites don’t stay in a single place. And any country could go to the trouble of disabling them. At the same time, outer space isn’t actually governed by the countries over which it floats.
The scheme discussed by hackers follows the introduction of the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the United States, which many believe to be a threat to online freedom.
As PC World’s Tony Bradley put it, the bill is a combination of an overzealous drive to fight Internet piracy, with elected representatives who don’t know the difference between DNS, IM, and MP3. In short, SOPA is a “draconian legislation that far exceeds its intended scope, and threatens the Constitutional rights of law abiding citizens,” he wrote.
And apparently those who typically don’t follow the law — hackers — think there’s something they can do about it.