Short Bytes: In order to oppose the advent of mass surveillance programs in the UK, an engineer named Gareth Llewelyn demonstrated his OnionDSL system design involving Tor. He plans to become an internet provider through his company Brass Horn Communications.
There is a recent addition to the ammunition to fight against the mass federal surveillance. OnionDSL, it is a UK-based engineer Gareth Llewelyn’s pet project in which he is planning to become an ISP by hosting a Tor bridge at his end. He (alone) would be doing this through his non-profit Brass Horn Communications. Last month, he showcased OnionDSL at the HOPE Conference in New York.
“If you say ‘Hi, I’d like a special internet connection that no one can spy on,’ you’re gonna get red-flagged.”
A user who wants to connect to the tor anonymity network using Gareth’s ISP would have to establish a physical connection to the Tor bridge maintained by Gareth and configure his computer/router to connect to the Tor network via his bridge. The connection won’t work like we normally use Tor over with our existing internet provider. No one will be able to track your machine on the network.
“This is achieved by only issuing private IP addresses to remote endpoints which if ‘leaked’ won’t identify you or Brass Horn Communications as your ISP. Furthermore, your computers aren’t technically connected to the Internet so can’t communicate to the servers that the exploits need to connect to in order to leak your address.”
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Why is he doing this?
It is to bypass the UK prime minister Theresa May-sponsored Investigatory Powers Bill, also called the Snooper’s Charter, which is being drafted for implementing mass surveillance programs. This will also make it mandatory for the internet providers in the UK to keeps an eye on users’ activity and maintain Internet Connection Records for a period of 12 months.
His system is designed in such a manner that it circumvents the data collection and surveillance related intention of the Snooper’s bill. Once a user gets connected through Gareth’s tor-powered gateway, no one, even the ISP, can see what website a user is trying to open. The only information visible to the ISP is that the user is connected through its TOR bridge. It doesn’t maintain any connection logs.
However, OnionDSL is not for the common people because it only supports TCP connections over the network. You won’t be able to use services operating on connections other than TCP.
“As a general use consumer ‘broadband’ product OnionDSL falls short on many counts, but if taken solely as a dedicated censorship / surveillance busting broadband product then it is pretty damn cool,” Gareth said.
As of now, Gareth’s single-handed company Brass Horn Communications is short on budget and the userbase. If the Snooper’s Charter comes into action, he plans to launch the service at scale by generating crowdfunds through Kickstarter.
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