Hackers Plan SOPA-Free Satellite Internet


In one of the bolder plans I have heard of, hackers at the CHAOS Communications Conference in Berlin have proposed launching small, private satellites into low earth orbit to provide full access to the internet.


SOPA, or the Stop Online Piracy Act, is seen by many (myself included) as a poison pill for the internet. Its passing would give owners of intellectual property incredible control over how information is shared on the internet. For example, a lawyer for Twitter claims that a single user infringing on a patent would mean every user is in violation of the law. Oh, and those gifs you see that use stills from movies or tv shows for comedic effect? Those are illegal.

It also gives congress the right to block websites that they find in violation of the vague statutes of the bill. For a full rundown on what it does and how SOPA hurts the internet, check the Stanford Law Review’s takedown of it here.

A Bold Plan

The plan that hackers have put together involves launching a fleet of small, cheap satellites into low Earth orbit. These satellites would orbit and provide constant coverage to those under its grid. There are a few problems, though, first and foremost that the satellites aren’t geostationary.

At the altitude that they would orbit, they would orbit the Earth every 90 minutes, meaning each satellite will provide mere moments of coverage. This makes keeping in contact with the satellites difficult, necessitating an ~$130 ground based receiver.

Then there is the fact that they plan on building their own launcher to launch the satellite, in addition to designing the satellite themselves. They are proposing an entire private and open source space program which, as the Danes isn’t completely unreasonable. Overall, though, this is probably just a pie-in-the-sky plan that will never take off. But if it does…