SkyBox is Your Freedom of Speech Machine! Help Safeguard your Privacy and Monetize your Online Presence
Restrictions on freedom of speech can happen in all sorts of ways. In the Internet era, how this happens depends on the structure of the networks we use, the personal machines we own and the infrastructure we depend upon. Let’s look at the qualities that make the SkyBox – a node for Internet access and cryptocurrency activity – such a practical as well as radical alternative to the status quo. Consider authoritarian regimes and their habit of persecuting people for written or spoken words. The way oppressive powers pursue people over their communications online relies on centralized servers and local connections. Some links in the chain may be easy to penetrate – such as a local wifi router – while others may have powerful encryption. In such cases, authorities may turn to legal agreements whereby governments or law enforcement can request that data be handed over.
Under tightly controlled systems it is relatively straightforward for authorities to track down users directly once their IP addresses have been obtained. However, service providers must generally first comply with demands. Keeping continuous surveillance of communication is a harder matter. Hacking directly into well-protected company data is beyond the abilities of most governments, especially if that data is kept on foreign soil.
Service providers like social media giants around the world increasingly comply with requests for personal information, but they will make an assessment (based on their own unaccountable standards) of whether the activity is genuinely criminal or not.
Under relatively liberal or democratic governments, ISPs or social media companies will often obey requests for information, rather than frustrate the powers-that-be. Whilst criminal or unethical behavior can’t be encouraged, this enhanced surveillance can still be harmful to freedom of speech. Even if law enforcement bodies in democratic societies do not react as harshly towards users as they do under authoritarian regimes, we have seen how privacy and free expression have been compromised in almost every kind of system in the Internet era.
Centralization, Surveillance, Censorship
Let us take a twofold example showing how a centralized structure of communication – Facebook – has been revealed to be more harmful than it first appeared, with drawbacks coming to outweigh benefits. First, as we know, Facebook spread quickly across the world. With its headquarters and majority of servers in the United States, it matched the US-centered structure of the Internet overall. After less than a decade, Facebook was already a substantial part of the social Internet as a whole. In 2011, when the “Arab Spring” demonstrations began in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world, Facebook became an important means of organizing dissent. As Facebook largely supported the demonstrators, central governments responded in various ways: hacking the site, blocking it, or shutting down Internet access. To this day, regimes unable to control protest speech take the same measures. The blanket bans reveal that the Internet giant, with its data localized outside a nation’s borders, cannot be controlled. After years of tumult in Egypt, an entirely different regime in Cairo blocked Facebook’s Free Basics Internet access program in 2016, because the company would not permit surveillance of users.
In Cameroon in 2017, government responded to social media protest activity by shutting down the entire Internet, which had the effect of increasing tension rather than deflating it. From this point of view, the structure of channels like Facebook and Twitter seems to make some sense. Second, however, we have the backlash against Facebook (and Twitter and others) over censorship and abuse of user data. This important consideration applies to the wider Internet itself, which is quite centralized upon the U.S. and a few other nations, and upon powerful service providers. These centralized data flows make sense when the main actors are responsible and reliable. Yet, as we have seen, they can and do show ethical and security flaws.
Calls for greater freedom of speech have risen in the wake of clear failings, just as demand for new financial options increased after the crash of 2007, leading to the revolutionary “cryptoeconomy”. As Bitcoin and the other currencies have spread, concern over how concentration of data flows and computing power can weaken security. If my centralized exchange is in country A, and that country moves aggressively enough, coins stored with them could be lost. If I am invested in a currency that is mined by consortia in country B, and they organize (or are forced by authorities to inflict) a 51% attack, what can be done? Recently (2016-2018) Facebook and Twitter have been drawn into partisan politics in the West, over issues such as “Fake News” and he “de-platforming” of individuals. Each controversy, no matter where one’s sympathy lies, reminds us that these services have been taking advantage of great centralized power.
SkyBox’s Mesh Internet – Skywire
The mesh structure of Skywire enhances both autonomy and stability. The thousands of nodes interconnected in the network can continue to function even if one or more collapse – in contrast to traditional Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) nodes which slow down if there is a break in the transmission of data packets. The Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) deployed in Skywire ensures speed by tracking the fastest path for the data through the network before it is sent. As the data “hops” from one node to another, each node can only access the previous and subsequent node locations, not the source, ultimate destination or content. In a fully-fledged Skywire, the distribution of the hardware around the world would also mean that attacks, surveillance or intrusion of data would become almost impossible. From the user’s point of view, private keys are the first and last barriers of entry to their own data, and means of securing these and one’s digital identity are always improving.
We spoke above about abuse by governments and social media monopolies, but the mesh Internet protocol and hardware nodes used in Skywire also assist with bypassing price gauging by ISPs. In the United States, removal of net neutrality laws is allowing ISPs to pressure consumers for access and speed. With Skywire, the network of users/node operators has control over how Internet access works. The rates paid for access correspond to the actual bandwidth used, and as a result are much fairer. In addition, anonymity and data rights are protected by the physical structure of the network.
How the Cryptoeconomy Helps
Last, the technology of the SkyBox integrates the ecosystems of Skycoin and ShellPay, allowing you to receive Shellcoins and mine Skycoins at the same time. Previous attempts at creating mesh networks often failed because the nodes were not properly incentivized. Allowing nodes to come premade and ready to receive currency when they are switched on resolves this problem. The network’s strength comes from true decentralization: even a state of disaster that affected a majority of nodes would leave the remainder intact and running smoothly, as the mesh avoids centralized points of failure, which is exactly the problem we have with ISPS. With SkyBox and Skywire, interception of data or cynical re-sale of your data becomes hard or impossible.
Access to a fast, reliable, low-cost Internet becomes the new normal.