Hackers are looking to circumvent Internet censorship laws like the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act in the U.S. by building their own, satellite-based Internet.
"The first goal is an uncensorable Internet in space. Let's take the Internet out of the control of terrestrial entities," Nick Farr, a hacker activist who first proposed the project in August, told the BBC.
The Hackerspace Global Grid was outlined recently at the Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin. If the scheme gets off the ground, the collective would develop a network of ground stations that would link to the satellites and allow terrestrial-bound users to log into an Internet that would be free of regulation.
The idea of amateur hobbyists is not altogether far-fetched. Some hobbyists have already managed to launch satellites into orbit, albeit for a short time, and the Chaos Communication Congress also discussed a goal of putting a hobbyist on the moon within 23 years. To date, most devices have been launched by balloons, which has made them difficult to track once in orbit.
Still unanswered is how the project would be funded, given the cost involved with launching and maintaining an ambitious satellite network. Armin Bauer, a 26-year-old German working on the project, told the BBC the group hopes to have three prototype ground stations up and running in the first half of this year, and that the group plans to have a functional model working by next year's conference, which is held annually by the Chaos Computer Club, an influential German hacker's group.
"We're aiming for 100 euros ($130) per ground station. That is the amount people tell us they would be willing to spend," Bauer said of a proposal to have ground stations set up and maintained by individuals.
Globally, SOPA is just one of several laws or proposed laws that opponents say violates free speech principles online. SOPA would block access to sites accused of violating U.S. copyright laws. The measure has been called Draconian by opponents who say it would fundamentally change the free-flow of information across the Internet. Proponents, ranging from the NBA to Universal, say the measure is needed to block sites which flagrantly flaunt copyright laws and make content available for free without paying copyright owners.