January 03, 2012, 4:31 PM — Driven reportedly more by the effort of entertainment companies to police their content and punish those who infringe copyrights than by the increasing number of countries adding further restrictions on what their people can or can't do online, a group of German hackers is trying to start a movement to build a communications satellite that could support unrestricted channels on the Internet.
The project, called the Hackerspace Global Grid, would consist of at least one satellite in low-Earth orbit providing connections among independent ground stations – creating a network of nodes completely independent of the Internet itself.
"The first goal is an uncensorable internet in space," said hacktivist Nick Farr, who began the call for a satellite project in August in response to new Internet restrictions in China, Libya, Syria and other authoritarian countries as well as pressure to suppress commercial content in Western countries with laws such as the Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa). "Let's take the Internet out of the control of terrestrial entities."
Farr was among the activists pitching the project at the Chaos Communications Congress in Berlin in August at which the group presented the project in detail. The Congress is an annual hacker conference sponsored by the German Chaos Computer Club – an anomaly among hacker groups in that it has been in operation so long it has become respectable as much as a political movement opposing restrictive rules on digital life as for the hacking activity of some members.
The Hackerspace Global Grid (working project site here)is daunting for its ambition to put a satellite into space, primarily due to the difficulty and expense of launching it on someone else's rocket. Building the satellite would be much simpler, and the ground stations would be easier still, according to project sources quoted in a Techspot story about its launch.