Here’s another one for our lists of government-less Internets: MondoNet. According to the MondoNet website: “The purpose of this project is to study the technological, social and regulatory feasibility of developing a peer-to-peer mesh networking protocol.”
MondoNet was founded by academics at Rutgers University, and the university is supporting the team’s research. The project is close to being able to test its mesh networking protocol in actual, real-life communities.
Aram Sinnreich’s TEDx talk on MondoNet
In an interview with R.U. Sirius, MondoNet co-founder and Rutgers professor Aram Sinnreich said:
“While it’s true that these protocols are inherently decentralized and therefore very resistant to censorship, the problem comes at the infrastructural level, which is far more centralized. The Internet may have a billion nodes now, but only a handful of companies control the Internet’s “backbone,” the broadband ISP market and the wireless data services market (and two companies, AT&T and Verizon, are the dominant players in each of these sectors in the U.S.). That means that no two Internet users in the U.S. can communicate with one another without their data passing through the hands of one of these companies.
“Unless the data is encrypted (in which case, it can be dumped if the companies choose), it is vulnerable to packet-sniffing or other forms of inspection. This is not a hypothetical situation; these companies have long histories of inspecting packets for the purposes of (a) commercially preferred treatment, e.g. non-neutral network operations; (b) commercial exploitation, e.g. consumer profiling; and (c) political censorship and surveillance, either at the behest of the federal government (think NSA wiretaps) or for reasons of corporate ideology (e.g. AT&T censoring an Eddie Vedder webcast critical of President Bush; Verizon blocking text messages between pro-choice groups and their members).”
We’ve seen several of these projects crop-up over the past few years, and Sinnreich says MondoNet is in communication with many of them.
Unlike many other projects, which are often run by engineers, entrepreneurs and/or policy wonks, the founders of MondoNet are academics. Some might count that against them, Sinnreich believes this helps them bring in human-focused perspectives that might otherwise be overlooked. MondoNet begins with what tk describes as “social specifications.”
See also our coverage of the Decentralized Internet.