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Private Networks For Public Safety

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the sounds-timely dept.

Network 45

JonZittrain writes "Projects like the New American Foundation's Commotion are designing ad hoc mesh networking to keep communications open when governments want to censor. Former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and I argue that mutual-aid-based networks can be helpful for public safety, too, after attacks or natural disasters. There should be easy practices for anyone to open up an otherwise-closed Wi-Fi access point if it's still connected to broadband and is near people in trouble, and separately, to develop delay- and fault-tolerant fallback ad hoc networks so users' devices can communicate directly with one another and in a mesh. This can happen even while full packet-based ad hoc mesh is being figured out. The ideas have been developed a little in workshops at Harvard's Berkman Center and the FCC. Why not bring the human rights and public safety communities together towards a common goal?"

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I knew we could do it (0, Redundant)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#43936939)

Make the internet censorproof and impossible to shut down... Fuck da Polizei!

Re:I knew we could do it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43941899)

And fuck the moderators! morons!

Byzantium (2)

mspohr (589790) | about a year ago | (#43936941)

Looks like these people are working on something similar:
http://project-byzantium.org/ [project-byzantium.org]

Re:Byzantium (1)

randomErr (172078) | about a year ago | (#43937237)

I would donate so cash if someone could could port this to ARM, specifically Raspberry Pi or BeagleBoard Black.

Re:Byzantium (1)

mspohr (589790) | about a year ago | (#43937355)

I think that's already been done:
http://project-byzantium.org/isc-grant-milestone-number-one-achieved/ [project-byzantium.org]

Re:Byzantium (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year ago | (#43939591)

"I think that's already been done..."

It needs to be an app, not an OS.

Re:Byzantium (1)

mspohr (589790) | about a year ago | (#43939757)

It is an app and runs on x86 and RaspberryPi.
If you have a WiFi device (smartphone, etc.) you just connect to the app.
If you'd like your smartphone to run the app, you could help port it.

Re:Byzantium (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year ago | (#43939985)

Read the damned article you linked to.

It is an OS, not an app. But they did get it working on the Raspberry Pi.

Re:Byzantium (2)

mspohr (589790) | about a year ago | (#43940651)

Hi Jane,
I think you need to do a little remedial reading on the definition of OS and apps.
In brief and without getting too nit picky technical, the OS interfaces with hardware and provides services to apps.
Byzantium is a set of applications which run on an OS (Linux).
Byzantium is not an OS, Linux is an OS.
You could port the Byzantium set of apps to another OS.

Re:Byzantium (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year ago | (#43944231)

"I think you need to do a little remedial reading on the definition of OS and apps."

I think YOU need to practice a little remedial reading, PERIOD.

BYZANTIUM IS A LINUX DISTRO. It is not just an "app" that runs on Linux.

Quote from their own home page: [project-byzantium.org]

"Byzantium is a live Linux distribution..." [emphasis added]

Further, the original post linked to this page [project-byzantium.org] , which says they got their Byzantium Linux (not app) to run on the Raspberry Pi.

Holy crap, man, do you even read the stuff you're arguing about?

There is a BIG DIFFERENCE between an app and a Linux distribution. Further, a Linux distribution is not "just Linux".

"Byzantium is a set of applications which run on an OS (Linux).
Byzantium is not an OS, Linux is an OS.
You could port the Byzantium set of apps to another OS."

So what you're saying is that Ubuntu is not an OS. Debian is not an OS, nor Gentoo, or Suse? Is that what you're saying? Funny, but the people who actually make them disagree with you. Because while they all might be flavors of Linux, they are far from just "apps". Just about everybody calls them OSes, including the people who work hard to make and distribute them. And they are not 100% compatible with each other. They simply share the Linux core.

Re:Byzantium (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43937385)

Then why don't you donate so that they *can* port this to ARM (specifically Raspberry Pi or BeagleBoard Black).

But... How will they listen in? (3, Funny)

earlzdotnet (2788729) | about a year ago | (#43936957)

If we build a mesh network to communicate, then how will the NSA listen in? They'd have to dispatch someone to every disaster to ensure they had a node in the mesh that could listen in. That would cost us taxpayers way too much money

Re:But... How will they listen in? (2)

Picass0 (147474) | about a year ago | (#43937077)

If one of the devices on the network has a backdoor, which it's starting to appear most of them do.

Re:But... How will they listen in? (1)

mspohr (589790) | about a year ago | (#43937261)

Best to use all open source software.
Open source is unlikely to have a back door. If one is there, it will be quickly found and patched.

Re:But... How will they listen in? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43937923)

The can use open source too, and modify it to meet their needs.

/dev/null (1)

Sloppy (14984) | about a year ago | (#43938133)

Concerned taxpaying patriot citizens should opt in to helping the NSA on a volunteer basis.

NSA should provide a spec for device driver writers to make alternative null devices, such that machines which opt to use this driver, anything written to the null device would be automatically sent to NSA. Then all software could be changed to divert a copy of all streams to the null device. For people who don't opt in, there's no privacy risk. For concerned taxpaying patriots who wish to share with NSA, they just run the new null device. For performance-nut patriots, you could have a special hardware null device to reduce the load on your machine and its own network connection. And for performance-nut privacy-nuts, your hardware null device would .. um .. well, certainly be faster than our lame software-emulated null devices.

And of course, if you're a real performance nut, then whether you're a patriot or an al Qaida sympathizer, you have several hardware null devices, striped.

addressing and routing in adhoc mobile networks (3, Insightful)

godrik (1287354) | about a year ago | (#43937021)

I was always wondering how you achieve routing and addressing in a completely adhoc network. Let us assume that my whole city put their wireless access point in ad hoc mode even on the same SSID or whatever. How do you achieve any form of coherent addressing and routing ? You do not want to follow the ethernet technique with huge arp tables, devices are never going to be have enough memory to store such huge tables. Routing will be completely inneficient.
Any idea?

Re:addressing and routing in adhoc mobile networks (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43937069)

B.A.T.M.A.N. [wikipedia.org]

Re:addressing and routing in adhoc mobile networks (1)

godrik (1287354) | about a year ago | (#43937203)

Good try but batman does not scale. You essentially need an arp table (or whatever the terminology in batman is) which is as large as the number of entities in the network [1]. Batman is essentially a broadcast based protocol: It will congest the network extremely fast. It probably wont scale to city scale. Note that I am not sure there is a good scalable existing answer to adhoc mesh routing.

[1] http://www.open-mesh.org/projects/open-mesh/wiki/FAQ#How-big-networks-does-batman-adv-support [open-mesh.org]

Re:addressing and routing in adhoc mobile networks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43937451)

Hell with it.... Run the whole city on NetBEUI.

Re:addressing and routing in adhoc mobile networks (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43937723)

You could reduce the ARP table down to two seperate, but much smaller tables: The first table is a list of known hosts and their last known routing neighbor, with aging and maximum size stack dumping. Keep this at about 1024 entries. The next table is a hash of the addressing schema which weights each of your local neighbors for each address range hash. You can keep this down to 65536 hash groups and highest scoring neighbor for discovered source address packets transmitted. You can expand this in one dimension by including instead of one neighbor, say 4 neighbors, in descending score on number of broadcasts in a given hash region. This could be done with IPV6 reasonably well. Even modestly powered modern ARM chips could easily handle punching through routing tables like those fast enough to keep packet delay down to reasonable levels.

If you're on the edge of the network, the hash table will likely only point to one or two neighbors that point inwards into the mesh. Inside of the mesh, you'll have a lot of excess packet passing due to the limits of the address hashing, but, packets will eventually find their way home, and each router will have a record of its most recent partners for getting back to the host.

Really, though, I don't see this working that well in anything less than 802.11N or AC. B and G just don't have the range or throughput in their normal usage (b devices had rather limited antennas, G devices may have range and speed boost, and slightly better antennas, depending on vendor, but, they still have limited throughput and range. Good quality N devices may have multiple radios and antennas, but are still fairly rare and non-trivially priced. The mesh will be a mess no matter how you look at it.

Re:addressing and routing in adhoc mobile networks (2)

darkHanzz (2579493) | about a year ago | (#43937211)

I was always wondering how you achieve routing and addressing in a completely adhoc network. Any idea?

I wouldn't have a clue, but other people do, luckily: http://www.open-mesh.org/projects/batman-adv/wiki/ [open-mesh.org]

Also, the torrent protocol offers parts of the solution: everyone stores a small part of the addresses. Which part to store is determined by the unique 128-bit number you've chosen. So even if everyone just knows how to get a little bit closer to the data/address you're looking for, that's good enough. A few query/response iterations should give you what you're looking for.

Re:addressing and routing in adhoc mobile networks (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#43937353)

I'd hope to introduce a CAN element, running in parallel - it's far more efficient than the usual packet-switching approach for disseminating data, fault-tolerant, censor-resistant and neither source nor destination nodes even need an address. You'd still need a conventional network too, but with CAN handling the big transfers of images and video you have a lot more resources available for your IP traffic. The two approaches compliment each other.

As for addressing, I wonder if geography can help? Give each node an address with part corresponding to approximate lat/long location. If there is a need to forward a packet and the destination is unknown, just send it to the known node which is closest geographically. Once it gets close enough, the packet wi'll come across a node that does know the optimal route.

Ricochet did this post-9/11, routing worked fine. (3, Interesting)

Myself (57572) | about a year ago | (#43938103)

While much of Manhattan's traditional communications infrastructure was literally a smoking crater after 9/11, the Ricochet mesh network was alive and well, built to barely notice the loss of individual nodes.

The company had recently gone bankrupt, but all the hardware was still in place, so some ex-employees drove [archive.org] from Denver to NYC with a bunch of modems and laptops, to bring mobile connectivity to the recovery effort.

Mesh works in this case because MCDN uses geographic routing [wikispaces.com] -- the packet header literally contains a packed lat/long for the destination, and nodes make their routing decisions by angle and distance. There's a layer of name-to-geo resolution which makes that all work, and in the Ricochet days it was centralized, but I believe it could be made to operate with DHT like torrent networks do now.

Re:addressing and routing in adhoc mobile networks (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#43939273)

Yes, big ARP tables. It's not as bad as you might think, though some of the anemic devices out there now could never handle it. For example, assuming you have <256 directly visible peers that can route, a table for an IPv4 sizd address space is only 4GB. Allow 8GB if you have 64K direct peers.

Re:addressing and routing in adhoc mobile networks (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#43968209)

Broadcast it, like plain old radio. And then we tune in. However has the matching half can decrypt it.

Re:addressing and routing in adhoc mobile networks (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#43968219)

Ummmm... whoever... pfft!

There is no technological solution (0)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about a year ago | (#43937045)

The only way to avoid the barbarism of imperialism in its death agony is workers revolution, expropriation of the expropriators, smashing their state, establishing a dictatorship of the proletariat that opens the road to a communist future!

Philosophically, like ham radio ... (2)

perpenso (1613749) | about a year ago | (#43937095)

Philosophically the emergency ad hoc network sounds like ham radio, individuals volunteering their time and/or equipment to help their community during disasters. It might help to mention this when trying to sell the idea to analog folks.

Re:Philosophically, like ham radio ... (2)

linuxpyro (680927) | about a year ago | (#43939957)

There's actually an amateur radio project to create a mesh network, as WiFi channels 1-6 actually fall into the ham bands. It's not very widespread in that you can just set up a node and get on, but it is pretty easy to deploy at events or in emergencies - just take the router out and plug it in. The site is hsmm-mesh.org [hsmm-mesh.org] .

FTGov (1)

AndyKron (937105) | about a year ago | (#43937151)

As long as they can keep the fucking government out of it, I'm all for it.

This is a great idea, but .... (1)

King_TJ (85913) | about a year ago | (#43937207)

The problem I can see with it is the governments in question will simply start actively jamming or disrupting these frequencies if they think they're being used to subvert the systems they're trying to monitor.

To do this properly, I think you might have to resort to a system that randomly changes frequencies as it runs -- so modified hardware would be needed as well as software?

Re:This is a great idea, but .... (1)

mspohr (589790) | about a year ago | (#43937325)

Let's see... these networks run over WiFi frequencies.
You could jam all WiFi frequencies but that would be:
a) non-trivial
b) obvious
c) self defeating
d) all of the above

Re:This is a great idea, but .... (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#43937375)

The more extreme they are forced to go in censorship, the more the backlash they will provoke. Even the people will no interest in politics are going to get annoyed when the government jams their garage door opener and the keyless entry on their car.

open garden (2)

H310iSe (249662) | about a year ago | (#43937333)

Open Garden [opengarden.com] - I tried version pre v1.0 during anonymous protests of wifi shutdowns on public trans. and it was not working very well (at all) but they're at v 2.0 now from the website: "Seamless connectivity allows people to connect any supported device to the mesh and thus to the Internet with no effort or configuration... introducing a way to access the Internet over multiple paths at once, improving speed and reliability... Once connected, devices find a path to the Internet also completely automatically. If a path fails, a new one will be chosen; if necessary, new connections will be established. The network is self-healing and self-forming. Each of the nodes operates only with local knowledge; together, they build a network using a probabilistic distributed algorithm."

Security Compromised... (1)

jareth (124708) | about a year ago | (#43937401)

"There should be easy practices for anyone to open up an otherwise-closed Wi-Fi access point if it's still connected to broadband and is near people in trouble"

That sounds like an open invitation for every hacker in the world to open up any Wi-Fi access point. How can you guarantee that such a capability wouldn't be abused?

Re:Security Compromised... (1)

nhat11 (1608159) | about a year ago | (#43937943)

Hackers ruin everything =(

Re:Security Compromised... (1)

chispito (1870390) | about a year ago | (#43938649)

"There should be easy practices for anyone to open up an otherwise-closed Wi-Fi access point if it's still connected to broadband and is near people in trouble"

That sounds like an open invitation for every hacker in the world to open up any Wi-Fi access point. How can you guarantee that such a capability wouldn't be abused?

I assume it would be just like making any other change to your browser through the configuration webpage.

YOU INSENSITIVE CLOD! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43937439)

We already have this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43937651)

In the form of CB and Amateur radio. They do not rely on a network to use as they transmit independently.

Also community wireless networks are around such as Air-Stream (http://www.air-stream.org/) in Adelaide, South Australia which have successfully created a city wide network. Many other community groups are now joining in and increasing this network too which helps them as well as others.

(Posing as coward as I have no account, I think I should go make one here.)

Re:We already have this (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#43938311)

Fine for the public safety side, useless for the free-speech side. If you start speaking in code on amateur in even a fairly free country such as the US, the FCC will revoke your license - it's expressly illegal. A relic from the cold war days, I think. There's also issues of contention - you can't share a frequency very well with voice - and no effective means to exchange maps, notices, or anything more than just talking. It's also a high-skill network, dependent upon having experienced operators on hand - a really effective disaster-tolerant network needs to allow anyone to go through a half-hour training course, turn on their hardware and be instantly connected, keeping all the complexities hidden so the user is free to concentrate on getting their ambulance through the rubble.

be extremely skeptical (1)

jdogalt (961241) | about a year ago | (#43938697)

Former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has had since September 2012 to respond to my complaint about GoogleFiber joining the "any kind of server prohibited to residential ISP internet users". His administration at the FCC refused to give me in all this time, a single sentence explaining to me whether they agreed with any or all of my complaint that started as a sub-1000 character 2000F complaint, and evolved to a 53 page small font dead tree document delivered by the office of my state's Attorney General asking them to take the issue back over. That was back in 2012 as well. I still wait for a single sentence suggesting whether or not network neutrality can be thought of bidirectionally, in the naturally as-designed symmetric InternetProtocol(v6 in this case), as giving consumers a right to provide their own independent (of any mandated corporate or government service affiliation) service via servers connected to their "neutral" residential internet jack.

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3643919&cid=43438341 [slashdot.org]

Forked Tor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43938737)

just fork Tor for your private network(s). It's been forked before for different reason(s).

open mesh wifi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43944019)

--" Why not bring the human rights and public safety communities together towards a common goal?"

Don't forget the amateur radio operators, we have been doing this exact thing for a long time.
http://hsmm-mesh.org/

73,

jawug (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43945859)

We have been doing this in south Africa for many years www.jawug.org.za
Use Google earth to see if you are able to join the network, extend it.

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