Network Engineer Tries to Thwart UK Bill That Plans to Expand Surveillance State -

Network Engineer Tries to Thwart UK Bill That Plans to Expand Surveillance State

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As the UK parliament is on the precipice of passing a new surveillance bill into law, one British engineer is trying to halt its progress through an anonymizing system that runs on top of the Tor anonymity network.

Also read: Blockstream Welcomes New Members to Their Team, Hires On Christian Decker

OnionDSL: The Tor-based ISP

British lawmakers are on the verge of passing a new law that expands the government’s ability to snoop on its citizens, and one network engineer believes he has a way to counter it.

The bill, which is championed by current Prime Minister Theresa May, generally aims to implement mass government surveillance throughout the UK.

Tor-logoAlso called “Snoopers’ Charter,’ the bill’s provisions includes, among other things, requiring all ISPs in the country to keep tabs on client’s internet activity. The statute would make it mandatory for internet service providers to maintain Internet Connection Records for up to one year, and within that time must hand them over to authorities upon request.

While the controversial bill also mandates other things that are also not very favorable to privacy, it is the ISP requirements that have really got the attention of network engineer, Gareth Llewelyn, who is preparing a potential defense.

Llewelyn’s project is an anonymous ISP system that runs on Tor, which he began creating earlier this year. He presented his OnionDSL system at the HOPE (Hackers on Planet Earth) conference last month in New York. His hope is that it will make it almost impossible for the government to censor content.

To take advantage of this service, a broadband connection will have to be physically moved over to Brass Horn Communication, which is Llewelyn’s non-profit, one-man, Tor-based internet service provider. Unlike normal ISPs, the Brass Horn routing system prevents the ISP that’s run over Tor from keeping any web browsing logs. Thus, making the ISP incapable of abiding by the bill’s provision requiring it to keep customer records.

Additionally, A subscriber’s home router or PC must be configured to connect with the Tor bridge private gateway. Traffic then bounces as it normally would across the Tor network, effectively anonymizing internet activities.

Llewelyn may have produced a foolproof system to get around the bill’s ISP record keeping provisions. However, that’s assuming he will be able to get the money to fund his project in the first place because, as of right now, he has admitted that the anonymous, Tor-based project is more of a proof-of-concept that is nothing more than an act of protest against the mass surveillance laws.

What do you think of Llewelyn’s proof-of-concept for his Tor-based ISP? Let us know in the comments below! 


Images courtesy of Tor,

Trevor Hill

Trevor Hill

Trevor is a writer at Bitcoinist. He is currently attending his first year at the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley, with a selected major in Economics. Subscribes to the Austrian school of economics.

  • Jabba

    Thank god for MAIDSAFE and the SAFE Network!!!

  • rjf

    My God, they are becoming the monsters we all helped them to eradicate in 1945! You are stepping onto an elevator that will lead to your ultimate destruction. Theresa May, stop now, before it’s too late…

  • Ade

    The elites of the World are setting themselves up for perpetual power,our current ‘freedoms’ are a semantic illusion. The battle for the future of humanity is being waged right now. Fortunately, the bad guys are crude, unintelligent, braindead moronic beaurocrats. We will win this one, though it might be a bit messy, but they lose in the end.