Users of the social news and community site Reddit don’t like the way the government seems to be muscling in on the Internet. So they plan to build a new one.
Redditors have flocked over the last week to a new subgroup on Reddit.com they’re calling the Darknet Plan–or sometimes Meshnet, as the name seems to still be in flux–with the aim of building a mesh-based version of the Internet that wouldn’t be subject to the control of any corporation or government, with a focus on anonymity, peer-to-peer architecture and strong resistance to censorship.
In the last few days, about 10,000 users have joined the group, and about 200,000 have visited, according to Chris Bresee, the 17-year old Vermonter who founded the project and goes by the name “Wolfeater” on the site. Bresee, a high school senior, created the Darknet Plan more than a year ago, but he attributes the sudden spike in interest to the Stop Online Piracy Act and the awareness of the possibilities of government censorship that the bill has created: If passed in its current form, SOPA would use Domain Name System filtering to effectively disappear infringing sites from the Internet. “I would say the Darknet Plan is driven almost in its entirety by fear of censorship coming out of Congress,” says Bresee, whose Vermont senator Patrick Leahy introduced the precursor to SOPA known as Protect-IP.”That’s what’s driven me, and I think that’s what’s driven the other ten thousand users to join.”