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Top 5 online hackathons; cure your quarantine boredom with bounties

Virtual is the new black.

As more and more of the world makes a pact to #StayTheFHome this COVID19 season, all planned conferences, meetups and hackathons are adapting their events for the online domain. 

So switch off Netflix and polish up your webcam – there’s hacking to be done, things to learn and bounties to win.

Funding the Future Virtual Hackathon

Organised by: Gitcoin 

Dates: March 16 – 30th

Prize: Up to $6500 per challenge

Gitcoin is a platform for you to get paid for working on open source projects. They’ve built a strong community of developers who collaborate and monetize their skills. 

They frequently host online hackathons and bounty programs, so you can check out the full list of current and upcoming virtual events, including their Funding the Future Hackathon. 

This two-week virtual hackathon features sponsors and projects from across the emerging decentralized finance (DeFi) space. Hackers will work together to build projects and tools that create, grow, and share value in brand new ways.

They’re also running a Blockchain for Social Impact hackathon, with 4 different categories: Sustainable Cities, Plastics and Pollution, Carbon Footprint, and Celp Peace and Prosperity. Winning ideas receive $6,500 in prize value (and runner up gets $1,500). Not a bad sum for trying to fix the planet. 

Can’t Be Censored Challenge

 

Organised by: Mysterium.Network

Dates: Applications close April 14th

Prize: Up to $5000 (first prize)

Calling all devs who give a sh*t about keeping the internet accessible and free. 

Mysterium Network is a distributed, permissionless privacy network. We’ve grown a large residential IP network for all kinds of next-gen privacy applications to be built on top of. 

Enter our “Can’t be Censored” challenge by submitting an app/DApp that fits into one of the featured categories and ultimately helps global citizens access the internet, no matter where in the world they are.  

We’re looking for new application ideas that span across iOS, Browser Plugin, Android TV, Bitcoin’s Lightning Network, Windows – or anything you like that you can build on our Network. 

Use code (and your brains) to put an end to internet censorship, data breaches and the abuse of our privacy rights.

International Women's Hackathon 2020

 

Organised by: HackerEarth

Dates: March 8th – April 30th

Prize: Up tp $3000

The annual International Women’s Hackathon has returned for 2020! This is its 6th edition, an all-women event and platform to showcase talents and build ideas for the Financial Technology, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Blockchain industries.

The IWH 2020 supports the UN’s theme for International Women’s Day – “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change,” and promote women developers around the globe. 

It invites women innovators, developers, creators, designers, and hackathon enthusiasts to showcase their projects to the world and take them to the next level.

GitLab Hackathon

 

Organised by: GitLab

Dates: May 13th – 14th

Prize: $100 to spend at the GitLab store

If you’re a dev, then you definitely have a GitHub or GitLab account. Easily join the GitLab community for this 2 day virtual event.

The Hackathon is open to anyone who is interested in contributing code, documentation, translations, UX designs and more to GitLab. Prizes are given to participants for having Merge Requests (MRs) merged and there may also be special award categories at each Hackathon.

You can choose an existing issue to work on, or file a new one. If it’s your first time contributing, a good way to join the Hackathon is to pick and fix a bite size issue. There are also issues for more experienced contributors.

Hack Quarantine

Organised by: Hackathons UK

Dates: March 23rd to April 12th

Prize: Cure the world and get to go outside again… (i.e Non-monetary)

Fight the flu! With your brain?

This fully-online, people-focused hackathon brings people together to use their skills to help combat the issues the world is facing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Work with medical professionals who will provide the knowledge and tools to empower all hackers to work on improving health, remote working and helping vulnerable populations.

Instead of having different challenges, the hackathon has separate “tracks”. Your project doesn’t have to fit perfectly into one track, it could be a mix and match of several (or all of them). Tracks were chosen based on areas where tech could be used to help solve some of the problems that the world is currently facing with the ongoing pandemic.

And for Data Scientists with a little more time on their hands…

Microsoft’s AI for Earth awards grants to support projects that use AI to change the way people and organizations monitor, model, and manage Earth’s natural systems. They’ve  already awarded 508 grants to projects with impact in 81 countries, and the list of grantees continues to grow. The four categories cover climate, agriculture, biodiversity and water.

Microsoft also offers awards to support environmental technology projects. They work with partner organizations to distribute special grants, including cash awards. You can check out these opportunities and learn how to apply. 

 

Get hack-proof in 5 minutes! Best cybersecurity tips and tricks for a new digital decade

best cybersecurity tips

In a time when cyberattacks have reached an all-time high, it’s best we all clean up our act and give ourselves a good cyberscrub. 

Good web hygiene leave no trace for advertisers or businesses to target you. But more importantly, they make it troublesome for hackers to find you.

Most hackers are lazy. They want minimal work for maximum return. If you’re an easy target, they’ll find out very quickly. If it will take even just a little effort to target you, they’ll move on to someone else. 

Don’t let yourself become a statistic in 2020. Put aside 5 minutes every day to tick each of these simple things off the list… 

The most important cybersecurity hack - secure passwords

Passwords are the first line of defence in cybersecurity, yet are often the weakest. In fact, approximately 80 percent of all data breaches are due to weak or reused passwords.

If you use the same password across multiple accounts, that’s bad. If you use the SAME password for EVERY account – that’s just asking for it. It’s likely your email/password combination has been stored in a database that’s been hacked.

You can check here if you’ve been “pwned” (have an account that has been compromised in a data breach). You bet some hacker out there will try to use the same combination to gain access to your email or online banking. They can steal your money or even your identity – identity theft is on the rise.

Do a password audit. If you have Gmail for example, this can be done by going into your account settings and doing a general security check. Make sure each password is different for every account. 

Find out if your passwords have been compromised and if so, immediately change all of them. 

Google chrome can suggest new strong passwords. You can also set up an account with 1Password, which can generate and store all of your different passwords. A lot of people ask are password managers safe?

If you can’t remember or understand your password, that’s best. Memorable or human-readable passwords are weak. 

Create different emails for different purposes

It’s easy to create new, separate email addresses which can be used for specific reasons. You can have a private email account that is used for things such as banking, tax, government services and medical accounts. 

Use a different email to deal with work, clients and customers – it’s a great way to separate your personal data from your professional life. 

Have an everyday account for things like online shopping, subscription services. That way, if this kind of database is hacked (more likely than your banking or government accounts), your email won’t be traced back to those important accounts. 

Wipe cookies, clear cache, and always go incognito

Cookies are the little crumb trails that websites leave behind in your browser or device. They are user-specific, so it helps the website remember you and keep track of your activity, such as saving your login details for next time. Cookies can be harmless – but some are rotten. 

There are third party tracking cookies which can track your physical movements and see your browsing history. In one extreme case in 2016, Verizon was fined by the FCC over a “supercookie” technology which allowed third-party advertisers and websites to “assemble a deep, permanent profile of visitors’ web browsing habits without their consent.”

Safari, Firefox and Chrome are all taking measures to phase out the use of tracking cookies, with the latter starting a privacy-first initiative to make these third-party cookies “obsolete” by 2022

Due to GDPR, you would have noticed that most websites now ask you to accept their cookie settings.

what are cookies computer

Try always to choose only the necessary or required amount – this will be the least invasive. And most importantly – go “incognito” whenever you can. This will stop those pesky cookies.

If you’re using Chrome, you can easily check the cookies stored by each browser. Click on the lock symbol in your URL bar and select “Cookies”. You can then block or remove cookies you want. 

Note that this may affect your typical browsing experience. 

You can update or delete your cookies by going into your browser settings:

Offline cold storage - store important files on an external hard drive or USB

Try to store all of your important documents offline, such as scans of your passport, bank statements, contracts and other sensitive information you wouldn’t want to fall into the wrong hands. Every so often, sift through your downloads and move your important things into your hard drive, then delete them off your computer. 

best cybersecurity tips

Turn on 2FA!

Turn on Two-Factor authentication to create one extra security layer – and possibly the most annoying barrier to accessing your devices. If an app or website gives you the option to enable 2FA, always do it! Text message, biometrics, or authenticator code – it costs you nothing except a few extra seconds and is probably the one hurdle a hacker won’t be bothered to jump over.

Don’t save card details online

This one is a given. When a website asks if you’d like to save your card details for the sake of convenience – just don’t. 

Some web browsers, like Google Chrome, will auto-fill your details. You can stop that here.

Turn off location services

This one’s easy. Go into your app settings and disable location services for every app that does not require it to function. Some apps, though need your location to work correctly like Uber or Maps, can often have the setting “only track location while using app” – switch to this if possible. 

iPhone users follow this guide. 

Android users, here’s all you need to know.

best free vpn

Don’t use public wifi - unless you’re using a VPN

Last but not least – if you’re working from a cafe, browsing online at the airport or just connecting to some shady public wifi that pops up – try to avoid using it all. 

If you MUST, avoid doing anything particularly private, like logging into your bank account. 

If you connect to public wifi regularly, then use a good VPN (like Mysterium’s free VPN for Android) every time you need to connect to public wifi. 

Learn more about our free VPN. It was the world’s first decentralized VPN, too.

Time to clean up your act!

Get hack-proof best cybersecurity tips

Get hack-proof best cybersecurity tips

Portals VPN Partnership

Portals VPN builds on top of Mysterium Network

We’re excited to announce the first project building on Mysterium Network!

Portals has built on top of our open-source infrastructure to bring consumer VPN users into Mysterium ecosystem.

To celebrate this new milestone, Portals is offering a discount to all Mysterium users who’d like to sign up and give their Android application a go.

Read on to find out more.

What is Portals?

Portals is a dVPN application that plugs directly into Mysterium Network’s pool of nodes. Yes, you heard correct – a business, building on our infrastructure and sending traffic to our node network. And it doesn’t stop there.

Portals are focused on consumer adoption. They offer a subscription service, with monthly or annual payments. This means that Portals users can pay not just with cryptocurrencies, but with cold hard credit cards. Under the hood, this will drive traffic into Mysterium Network and tokens into Mysterium node runners’ pockets. Once a user signs up for Portals, all they need to do is pick the country they’d like to connect to. Portals’ built-in algorithm selects the best nodes for them to connect to based on quality, and the service the user is looking to access. 

Portals also offer live chat, which means anyone with issues getting their dVPN application up and running will have a helping hand.

A small step for dApps, a giant step towards mass adoption.

With Portals, users will be able to access the benefits of Mysterium Network’s pool of residential IPs without having to even know what ETH or MYST is! More users and traffic will flow into Mysterium Network, without all that crypto mumbo jumbo needing to be explained to people who just want an app that’s easy to use.

Portals app is available on Android, Mac and Windows. Check them out here.

Check out PORTALS VPN,
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Get Portals VPN

Why are decentralized VPNs important?

Centralized VPNs today have full access to the history and metadata of what we consume online.

“The websites we browse, torrents we download, movies we watch on Netflix, the time we spend playing games, watching Youtube, idling on social networks – we can only imagine (and know from certain instances) how this data is used to track us and eventually influence our behaviour,” says the team behind Portals VPN.  

“This influence is so strong yet so concealed, that we have the right to replace the term “influence” to the term “control” in this context.”

Portals VPN is built on the belief that the more Internet users become aware of this control that centralized VPN providers have, the more they will turn to decentralized solutions. 

Why is this step important to Mysterium Network?

Mysterium Network is building an open and distributed VPN node network. 

While we have a reference implementation of our technology available, as an open-source project one of our goals is to help create tooling that allows for easy integration into our node network.

This means that we can continue to focus on building our node software, nurturing our community of nodes and helping developers build apps that drive traffic through the network.

Portals building on top of Mysterium is an important step for us as it will help us with the following:

  • Getting feedback on our developer documentation to ease future open source adoption of our technology;
  • Building processes to help onboard open-source talent more seamlessly into first learning about Mysterium technology, and then building on top of it;
  • Gaining a new channel through which traffic will enter our network and gets distributed across our node runners.

An open Internet for all

Portals and Mysterium are just two of the many projects pioneering decentralization. The ecosystem is made up of a range of companies, initiatives and projects all working together to create a better Internet for all. 

The magic of decentralized technology means that different platforms complement each other, merging to form a new Internet that is as accessible, interoperable and open – as if it were one. 

Related: Read our behind-the-scenes look into how networks like these are built.

Stay tuned for our developer bounties

Portals is the first of many projects that we hope will join us in building Mysterium’s wider ecosystem.

We will be announcing developer bounties on the 1st of March through our blog and community channels, so stay tuned to find out how you can contribute to a more free, more open Internet – and earn while you do it.

Mysterium Node Pilot – Bounty Rules March 2020

Before we provide you with our latest update, we’d like to thank our growing community of nodes for their ongoing support, contributions and feedback. We value your time and effort in working with us to launch the next generation of the internet.

What’s changing in our March proposal:

A recurring piece of feedback we had from Mysterium Node Runners was to remove caps on Residential IP nodes which would be paid out monthly.

At this stage real traffic is not paid, and completely subsidised by Mysterium Network.

We are currently on test net. MYSTT is not a scarce resource as we need an abundance for testing purposes. This means that we will have a lot of users testing our mobile application (and desktop apps in the near future) with free MYSTT. This is necessary for our current stage of testing. This also means a lot of unpaid traffic within Mysterium Network, completely subsidised by us.

Before presenting our proposal one of the options we were considering was having a bounty pot that would be split by all node runners. But we came to the conclusion that this would have incited a lot of frustration as there would be no way to guarantee the exact value of earnings until the very end of the month.

We are happy to take any suggestions on board that takes us closest to a free market system. This is why we are making an amendment to our March proposal of bounty rules. 

Instead of having an individual cap of nodes per target region, we will have a total cap of 250 nodes paid out for the following regions: the UK, US, Italy, Germany, Australia, Netherlands.

The rest of “Residential IP bounties with payout caps and rolling payments + New countries  🇦🇺🇳🇱” remains the same.

To reiterate again – we reserve the right to not pay. We will be cross-checking traffic and identifying bad actors and disqualifying them from our bounty program. 

For some consumers of Mysterium Network, different types of IPs are both useful and important. This is why we are looking to grow the number of data center, residential IPs, and mobile IPs we have in our network across the globe. Nothing changes with our second bounty. 

Overarching themes from feedback gathered from you:

Fix discrepancies as to how data is calculated between my.mysterium.network and our leaderboard on test net.

We will ensure that there will be a single source of truth by the beginning of March. This will be my.mysterium.network

 

Ensure fair distribution of traffic across all nodes within Mysterium Network

  • Filters and randomness

  • Removal of the list of nodes with the ability to favourite nodes within our MysteriumVPN on Android.

Our bounty proposal takes us much closer to real-world environments. We are considering several means of data balancing for nodes but this goes against the ideology of a permissionless network.

A consumer will choose nodes that provide stable service at an acceptable price for them.

This quarter, we will be focused on growing consumers within the network which will directly impact the volume of traffic flowing through Mysterium Network.

 

Create more whitelisting tools for node runners

Longer-term (not this quarter), we are working on advanced whitelisting solutions that will be an additional tool that allows providers to grow the volume of traffic they allow through their node. This will also make it much easier for consumers to find nodes providing the type of service they are looking for.

This is a huge technical challenge as users do not only browse one service at a given time. This will mean we need multi-hops between data center nodes which provide access to the wider internet. We will also need to ensure that only specific types of traffic are sent to Residential IPs.

Another consideration is to have multiple connections to providers so that they are able to browse freely without having to reconnect to nodes based on the specific service they are looking to unblock. This is a huger technical challenge – opening several VPN tunnels to different providers and balancing between them

Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post on how we aim to achieve this and the challenges we expect to face.

 

Provide stable and working Linux software and repositories. Or just remove this platform.

Our Linux node installed via Debian packages or compiled binary on your machine has proven to be the most stable platform for the Mysterium Node.

It seems our community is seeking docker support. There are technical limitations of supporting docker due to the complexity of it’s networking set up. It is possible to run Mysterium Nodes within docker containers. This will work if it is a node with a direct external IP – most likely a data center IP. If it’s a local network set up, our docker support is at beta stage and needs advanced configuration.

Some of you are using install scripts and running it on unsupported platforms. We are only supporting LTS of Ubuntu and Debian at this stage.

We are going to work on our documentation to help our community, but cannot guarantee that this will work with each unique configuration.

Changes of the bounty system need to stabilise as no one is currently able to cost-benefit.

We are currently running the Mysterium Node Pilot as a research and development initiative to understand network dynamics before we move to main net. This means expecting rapid changes.

We will be moving to main net in 2020, and once this happens Mysterium Network will become a peer to peer system. This will mean no more bounty rules and limitations of the number of nodes which are eligible for payouts. This is because in a peer to peer system, you will be paid directly by a consumer of your service. You will also be able to set pricing as you see fit.

We understand that the changes to bounty rules of the Mysterium Node Pilot can be frustrating. If this is the case, we urge you to stay tuned and join us when we’re on main net where you will be able to provide VPN service directly to a free market.

The above is not exhaustive, and all feedback has been shared with our internal teams to help us with prioritising feature updates. 

Addressing some repeating questions:

  1. What is the MYSTT / gigabyte conversion?

    One gigabyte will earn you 0.07 MYSTT.
    You will earn 0.0005 MYSTT / minute of each session your node accepts.

    This is a default setting. In the future, Mysterium node runners will be able to fine-tune and set their own pricing.

     

  2. Will you no longer be paying for any node runner availability?

    No. Calculation of availability is both difficult and not a real-life scenario. It was temporarily required as our payments system was not ready for testing yet. To reiterate, Mysterium Node Pilot is a Research and Development initiative. This means we are shaping bounty rules based on quickly evolving technology and hope you will stick around for the journey.

Thank you for your contribution to an open internet for all

You can find a detailed break down of both February and March Node Pilot bounty rules on my.mysterium.network. What are you waiting for? Start running a node today, and join us as we gear up towards our main net release.

The Coronavirus Cover-Up: A Closer Look At Internet Censorship in China

I am writing this in transit between Helsinki and Vilnius. I’ve got a mask on, and it’s uncomfortable. But I shouldn’t complain – the mask itself was a godsend – given the nationwide shortage of masks, hand sanitiser and antibacterial wipes in Singapore. 

My flight taking me from Singapore to Helsinki may as well have been a private jet for the number of people on board. One of the perks when travelling while the world is gearing up for a pandemic.

The coronavirus is quickly spreading through Asia, and onward into the US and Europe. 

What does this have to do with freedom of speech? Just about everything. 

Dr Li Wenling - the coronavirus whistleblower - is now dead.

I landed in Helsinki to the news of Dr Li Wenliang’s death. 

Dr Li was one of the first people who tried to issue the first warning about the coronavirus outbreak. 

On the 30th of December, he sent a message to fellow doctors in a medical-school alumni group. In this message, he warned his fellow medical practitioners that seven patients had been quarantined at Wuhan Central Hospital after coming down with a respiratory illness similar to the SARS coronavirus. 

Four days after this, he was summoned to the Public Security Bureau where he was coerced to sign a letter. This letter claimed that he was “making false comments”. 

 

According to the BBC, the letter he was told to sign read: 

“We solemnly warn you: if you keep being stubborn, with such impertinence, and continue this illegal activity, you will be brought to justice – is that understood?”. 

Dr Li contracted the coronavirus himself, after treating people who had it.

After contracting the virus, Dr Li continued to post to his Weibo account. “I was wondering why [the government’s] official notices were still saying there was no human to human transmissions, and there were no healthcare workers infected,” Dr Li wrote on January 31 from his hospital bed.

Officials in Wuhan initially played down the threat and censored information on the spread of the disease. “I think it would have been a lot better. There should be more openness and transparency”, Dr Li told the New York Times. Dr Li was one of the eight people arrested for speaking out on social media.

The death of Dr Li Wenliang is a heartbreaking moment for China and a neon sign pointing at the failure of Chinese leadership. 

The following are censorship instructions on how to deal with reporting on Dr Li’s death – issued to the media by the Chinese authorities.

The rapid-fire spread of the coronavirus in China, alongside with this sad event, is a clear example of how transparency and openness can save lives, while censorship can lead to global disaster. 

Keeping a deadly disease hidden from the public consciousness only lets it fester and spread silently. Censorship has fed this infection to pandemic proportions. 

The state of the internet in China

The internet first arrived in China as a tool for the emerging “socialist market economy”. In 1998 the Golden Shield project was created. The Golden Shield project was a database project which gave the Chinese government the power to not only access the records of each citizen but to delete any comments online that were considered harmful to the Chinese government. 

https://media.torproject.org/image/community-images/

The image above showcases a simplified topology of the great firewall of China.

In a white paper, released by the government of China, it clearly states that “within Chinese territory, the internet is under the jurisdiction of Chinese sovereignty. The internet sovereignty of China should be respected and protected”. Here’s a direct link to a copy of the whitepaper.

I call bullshit. And so do a growing number of “dissidents” of the Chinese government. 

Looks like the citizens of China are finally getting woke - after decades of attempted brainwashing.

Government agencies have weakened the check-and-balance function that true journalism brings. “The local government’s tolerance level of different online voices is way too low,” wrote Hu Xijin on his social media – editor of the Global Times, a nationalist and party-controlled outlet.

“The current system looks so vibrant, yet it’s shattered completely by a government crisis…We gave up our rights in exchange for protection, but what kind of protection is it? Where will our long-lasting political apathy lead us” – writes a user on Chinese social media. This post was shared over 7000 times and liked 27,000 times. Then it was deleted [censored].

 

Zhang Ouya, a senior reporter at the state-run Hubei Daily wrote that “For Wuhan, please change the leadership immediately” – on his verified Weibo account. This post was shortly deleted, but not before a screenshot was circulated widely. This was followed by a leaked official document where the newspaper apologised to Wuhan officials with a promise that its staff would only post positive content. Only positive content – with a growing death count in China. 🙄🙄🙄

This outbreak is not only a national crisis – it’s a global health crisis with epic repercussions. On China Central Television, the state broadcaster shows a banquet held by leadership to celebrate the country’s successes. 

“Chinese social media are full of anger, not because there was no censorship on this topic, but despite strong censorship, it is still possible that the censorship will suddenly increase again, as part of an effort to control the narrative,” said Xiao Qiang, a research scientist at the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley. Critics are finding new ways to dodge censors, referring to Xi Jingping, China’s top leader as “Trump” and/or comparing the coronavirus outbreak to the Chernobyl catastrophe. 

This week, police in the port city of Tianjin detained a man for 10 days for “maliciously publishing aggressive, insulting speech against medical personnel”. He had been critical of the response to the coronavirus outbreak in a WeChat group he shared with his friends.

China’s online censorship system, unaffectionately known as the Great Firewall, is also censoring any information the Chinese government deems a rumour.

What is classified as a rumour?

 

  • Posts of families with infected members seeking help
  • Posts by people living in quarantined cities documenting their daily lives
  • Posts criticising the way the Chinese government is handling this outbreak

The Chinese government has even announced that anyone attempting to disrupt social order by posting information with sources that are not from state-run media, will face three to seven years in jail. What the actual …fudge.

This censorship is not just a problem for Chinese citizens. It affects us all.

The World Health Organisation has declared a global health emergency. As the coronavirus spreads it becomes clear that one governments’ actions can have a global impact. 

A choke-hold on transparency, openness and the free flow of information does not just affect the country being censored. This is one of the reasons we must take a global stance against internet censorship as more and more countries draw borders around the flow of information.

China may be one of the worst offenders but it’s not alone. 

The internet as a means for openness and transparency

This is a very personal cause for me. I grew up in a country where freedom of speech wasn’t a given. The soft power that countries with authoritarian and totalitarian governments have increasingly global impact at the speed at which globalisation is moving. 

This is one of the many reasons I wake up every day to work on Mysterium Network. You can’t put a price on the work that our community is doing to ensure an open internet for all. It’s not just so you can stream shows you like, it could save lives, prevent pandemics and overthrow totalitarian governments. 

Mysterium Network is building a permissionless and distributed virtual private network. Mysterium Network will allow end-users in heavily censored regions access to the open internet.

Our network is for the people, by the people. What do we mean by that? Most nodes in our network [nodes provide IPs that open up the internet for end-users using MysteriumVPN] are residential IPs, meaning they are run in the homes by our community of hacktivists across the globe.

Join us on our mission to open the internet for all. Run a node.

In a region with internet censorship? Give MysteriumVPN a whirl – it’s free while we’re in the testing phase.

A strategic look into how networks are built

Mysterium Network was started with a purpose. That purpose was and continues to be: create a network that ensures surveillance-free communication and access to the internet for all.

The internet is becoming an increasingly fragmented place. This was not intended by the founders of the internet. Those in power know that when you control information flow, you control people. 

This is neither fair nor ethical. And this problem begs a solution. Mysterium Network is building a technological solution to a social problem – with your help. 

Mysterium Network is equally a research and development project. 

  1. Research – because we are building new technologies from scratch, even if separate components have existed for a while
  2. Development – because technology alone will not solve this problem. Instead, a distributed node network in place, and in action can solve a big part of the problem. 

What is Mysterium Network comprised of?

To truly understand what we’re working on at Mysterium Network we must divide our network into different components for clarity.

1. Base Layer

Our base layer is comprised of our core technology. This is our node software, payment hub and discovery service. All these components are currently being built and tested through the Mysterium Network Node Pilot.

2. Infrastructure Layer

The infrastructure layer makes it easier for other application developers to plug into Mysterium Network and access our pool of residential IPs. As we create tooling that makes it easier for developers to build on Mysterium Network, this will help to drive more traffic through our network

Our infrastructure layer comprises of different components such as a quality oracle, identity pool payments management, automatic exchange tool and much more. Some of these components are being built as we speak, with much more coming up as we continue to work with partners who help us identify needs with feature requests.

We are also working on enterprise client software for VPN businesses which will allow them to become consumers in our network. Our goal is to progress this client software to potentially allow these VPN businesses to also become providers within Mysterium Network.

We will dive deeper into each of these components, and what they will mean for corporate partners and app developers in a later blog post. Sign up to our newsletter to hear it first.

3. Apps Layer

With our application layer, the goal is to drive incoming traffic into Mysterium Network so nodes can earn from real users. Our application layer comprises of our own reference implementation, Mysterium VPN on android. It’s free – so give it a whirl.

It could also stretch to include anything from mobile and television applications through to web scraping tools which utilise our network of nodes. Interested in building on Mysterium Network? Jump into discord, let us know how you’d like to contribute to building an open internet for all and let us know how we can help. 

Stay tuned for some exciting announcements on developer bounties to encourage building on Mysterium Network! Want to hear about it first? Join us on discord and telegram to connect with both core team members and the wider Mysterium community.

Join us in bootstrapping this research project

To build towards a successful permissionless and decentralised virtual private network, we have a three-pronged strategy: 

  1. Build an initial network of nodes and embed them with an open Mysterium protocol (an evolving one). The aim is that each node is able to provide any user of the network with access to the open internet and/or a line of secure communication.
  2. Provide this network with an incentivisation mechanism. This is where payments come into play. Once peer to peer payments are live, network users will be able to pay a node directly for its service. To test our network, we needed to get some real-world data and input. Hence the Mysterium Network Node Pilot was born.
  3. Build and encourage an ecosystem of apps. Without this, Mysterium Network loses its diversity of use and robustness. This is where our infrastructure and apps layer comes into play. We are building all kinds of tools – amongst them our own reference implementation of apps using the network. Check out Mysterium VPN on Android – which both showcases Mysterium Network’s potential while providing real-world value to its users. 

Mysterium Network Node Pilot.

Through the Mysterium Network Node Pilot, you join us in the research phase of our project, which means you should expect rapid changes. 

We have just released our proposed Mysterium Node Pilot bounty updates for the month of March. We are doing so with a 30-day lead up so that we can gather feedback from our community and shape these rules with them. 

You can find our proposal for March’s bounty rules here. As we build a network for the people, by the people – we need your feedback to understand how best to shape incentive mechanisms that create a robust network that is resilient against bad actors.

Mysterium Network - The Network will always come first

Our Node Pilot and evolving bounty rules are designed to bootstrap the evolution of Mysterium Network.

We will continue with bounties to strengthen key areas of Mysterium Network, reshaping areas which are underdeveloped and exploring new geographies or communications protocols which can bypass censorship. Eventually (with the implementation of peer to peer payments) the network will become self-sufficient – meaning that users will pay nodes directly. 

With March’s iteration of bounty rules, we are hoping to move closer to market conditions. We have a limited budget for bounties, and this is one of the reasons we are proposing a cap on the number of nodes we will pay monthly. In real market conditions, all nodes who collect tokens will be paid. This is why we have proposed rolling payouts – which means you can combine your tokens from several months to allow you to rank amongst the top nodes within your region and get a payout. 

In saying all this, we urge you to be prepared for changes within bounty rules, as the focus will shift depending on the data uncovered during our ongoing research phase.

Help us create a sustainable robust network which places privacy and openness at the forefront. Give us feedback on our proposal, join the community and run a Mysterium Node.

Ecoin and the rise of corporate cryptocurrency: Did Mr Robot get it right?

Is Mr Robot a glimpse into our tech-onomic future?

The internet’s favourite fictional Robin Hood (Elliot Alderson) has finally hung up his hoodie, forcing us to return to our own parallel reality. 

For those who have not yet plugged into Mr Robot (using a dVPN?), the series follows hacktivist group “fsociety” who are on a mission to take down conglomerate E Corp and consequently erase the world’s debt. 

The narrative picks apart some of society’s deepest flaws – including the growing divide between the top 1% and 99% at the hands of modern capitalism – with philosophical intensity.

It tells us the world’s financial and corporate structures as made of glass. The hammer that can shatter them to pieces is made of code, clever social engineering and anarchism. 

And with most systems already migrated to the digital realm, just one man and his keyboard can bring a global powerhouse to its knees. 

Back in the real world, hackers launched a ransomware attack against Travelex, the foreign currency company. The hack has crippled their worldwide systems, forcing their stores, airport counters and exchange services offline and leaving customers stranded.

Life imitating art? 

Mr Robot predicts a haunting future for our tech-dependant society based on these very real events; the modern-day revolution is digital, technology is the weapon, and everyday people are still the casualties. 

Cash is dead

The world economy falls apart following fsociety’s 5/9 hack against E Corp’s global banking network. The CEO swiftly launches a new digital currency for its clients and millions of customers, a substitute for fiat cash.

There are blunt negotiations with the US Treasury Secretary, who is asked to endorse Ecoin as a government-sanctioned currency before the population turns to the alternative – Bitcoin. 

“The problem here is hard cash is fading, rapidly. That’s just the way of the world right now and Bitcoin is spreading, and if Bitcoin takes over we are all in a world of hell…

With “Ecoin” we control the ledger, and the mining servers, We are the Authority. I will make sure you have visibility into every single wallet that is open, every loan, every transaction. You want to regulate it, be my guest… I’ll give you backdoors, side doors, tracers, whatever you want.”

Is this propagandist, American corporate dream already filtering into our financial system? 

The battle against Bitcoin

For anyone familiar with the origins of Bitcoin, they’ll understand that Ecoin is a violation of everything it stands for. 

As the original and most popularised cryptocurrency, Bitcoin is a virtual currency that is issued, managed and used by everyday people. 

Emerging out of the wreckage of the global 2008 financial crisis, it promised a new monetary system that could help people stay afloat as our economies are sunk by corporate greed and government corruption. 

Termed as “the internet of money”, cryptocurrencies shift the value we assign to cash to a digital form that is as fast and borderless, yet more secure than encrypted messaging. It moves throughout a trustless, decentralized network and is secured by a technology known as blockchain. Anyone can take part and help maintain a public blockchain. 

Yet cryptocurrency – and its underlying technology – is already being hijacked by governments and businesses the world over. 

Stranger than fiction? Ecoin already exists.

While extreme libertarians designed the blockchain to decentralize government and corporate power, some fear it could consolidate it instead, undermining cryptocurrency’s anti-capitalist aspirations.

“The same hype driving cryptocurrency speculation has also attracted banks, governments, and corporations—exactly the authorities it was designed to circumvent.” – Ian Bogost, The Atlantic 

Years after Mr Robot premiered its “cash is fading” monologue and postulated Ecoin, JP Morgan announced the creation of JPM Coin, its own digital currency.

As a global lender, JP Morgan moves more than $6 trillion around the world every single day, and they want to move their infrastructure to a company-managed blockchain to instantly settle payments between their clients.  Once launched, JPM Coin will be the first blockchain-based currency issued by a major U.S. bank. 

Facebook too has joined the cryptocurrency party with their infamous Libra Coin, “potentially shaping the already vast powers of the Silicon Valley giants into a borderless, unaccountable techno-oligarchy.” 

With over 2.4 billion monthly active users, Facebook could become the largest (pseudo) bank in the world. 

There are countless other crypto-inspired initiatives being researched or launched by governments – RSCoin in the UK, Venezuela’s Petro, Iran’s Central Bank, The Public Bank of China, Senegal

But cryptocurrency that lives on a permissioned ledger – a privately-run or corporately managed blockchain – centralizes control, removing its democratic, privacy-preserving nature, and therefore any hopes of social and financial empowerment for the individual. 

Money is already seized by governments and banks habitually. Pair this with an ability to continuously monitor, track and block your entire life savings, and your control is complete. This would complement China’s political and economic strategies, which are centred around state-control and anti-privacy measures – such as their social credit system

Sovereign and corporate cryptocurrencies cannot really be considered cryptocurrencies at all. They abandon the integrity of blockchain technology’s breakthrough design; its in-built trustlessness, transparency and immutability. 

With banks, governments and businesses, nothing changes – they control the chain and the currency, from its supply and distribution to its inflation rate and pegged value.

For the hacktivist that lives in all of us...

So Mr Robot got it right. 

In a world where we are being sold the illusion of economic progress, how can we claim back cryptocurrency for ourselves? 

We can start by supporting open-source projects who are building on public blockchain architecture. We can educate ourselves about the non-speculative value of cryptocurrency (and how to use and store it safely). And we can start experimenting with a range of decentralized applications that give its users control while honouring their privacy and autonomy. 

Our dVPN is a blend of all these things – and more. 

For many of us, the internet is a place to freely roam. But many online citizens are trapped behind digital walls, stopping the free flow of ideas, voices and truths. 

We are building a new online era, democratising the web itself so that it’s free and open for all. Our peer to peer network powers its own VPN while laying the foundations for the new Web 3.0. Everyday web users become nodes to protect you against censorship, surveillance and cybercrime and get paid in cryptocurrency for it. Anyone can become a node to help us fight the good fight. 

There are many exciting other projects out there also trying to make this new online world a reality. 

 

But the revolution starts with you. Will you claim back the internet? 

Join the Mysterium Army and download our free dVPN for Android.

Power of the “d” – A Comparison of Decentralized VPNs (dVPN)

Network Design

A global collection of nodes power a VPN network by sharing bandwidth P2P in exchange for cryptocurrency.

Users can easily become a node and also download the free VPN app to select from a global menu of IP addresses/bandwidth providers.

VPN users connect to bandwidth sellers (nodes) using a directory. Node providers stake tokens to advertise these services.

Users install the Orchid VPN, add OXT to their wallet, and can then access the internet through their preferred path (single or multi-hop).

P2P VPN network also functioning as an SDK. Allows anybody to become a “resource node” by selling their unutilized computing resources in the marketplace.

Users mask their Internet traffic through a series of nodes.

A global VPN service which can provide Dedicated IP address, Double VPN, Onion Over VPN and connection to the Tor anonymity network. 

As well as dedicated data centre servers around the world, centralized VPNs also allow P2P traffic on certain servers  – there are hundreds of them in different locations around the world, optimized for file sharing.

How are nodes incentivised or rewarded?

Pilot program
Monthly bounties for UK, US, Italian and German participants, earning up to $600 in ETH per year. Only an email and IP address is required.  

P2P payment network
(coming soon)
Nodes set their own price based on supply and demand. This unique micropayments system utilises cryptocurrency payments, so nodes can sell their bandwidth in small intervals, ensuring security and convenience.

Stake-weighting
Anyone can operate an Orchid Node, but must first stake (lock up as collateral) the native OXT cryptocurrency. The more OXT that is staked, the more traffic they can receive, and the greater the chances of reward in the Network.

Orchid uses an advanced payments architecture known as probabilistic nanopayments for per-packet network payments.

Resource Nodes can earn the native $SENT token in return for contributing network bandwidth and other resources by hosting a Service Node for the dVPN Service.

Nodes are not incentivized in centralized VPNs as these businesses own the infrastructure and charge end users for the service.

Node Onboarding

Anyone can run a node using their computer, mining equipment or compatible hardware such as a Raspberry Pi. Link your node to your Ethereum wallet address via an easy to use dashboard, My.Mysterium.Network to track your earnings. 

No staking is required to be a node – sign up is free.

Anyone can run a node by signing up to the stake registry and provider directory on the blockchain. 

However, all new nodes must purchase and stake OXT to start receiving traffic.

Running a node requires technical knowledge of how to install a docker and configure a node. At present there is no user-friendly dashboard or application for download.

No need to onboard. By paying for the service, users get access to the VPN service, but do not help power it.

Costs & fees

While on testnet, the VPN is currently free to use.

Once live, users will pay in cryptocurrency for only the bandwidth they consume on a pay-per-use model.

Nodes pay no fees and earn cryptocurrency directly from users of this VPN service.

Users pay for the bandwidth in OXT.

Nodes pay OXT to advertise their services.

Using their on-chain, inbuilt ‘Token Swap’ feature, users can privately purchase $SENT tokens to access any service on the Sentinel network.

Running a node is free.

Monthly subscription model, rather than a pay-as-you-go structure. Users get access to a VPN service where they can select from IP addresses based all over the world to suit their browsing needs.

VPN Security

Layered protection protocols built to protect any individual or organization. Mysterium is a fast and scalable transport security layer to reinvent privacy via VPN. Traffic is encrypted and sharded into separate pieces, filtered in an unrecognisable form through the distributed node network — without the possibility of being traced or censored.

Users can select single- or multi-hop onion routed circuits by selecting nodes randomly weighted on stake and filtered by price, location, etc. A single hop route has the benefits of a normal VPN connection, creating a tunnel to route your traffic over a public network or your ISP, while a multi-hop connection provides additional privacy benefits by securing your network data from any one provider.

Swixer is Sentinel’s first utility that allows anybody to simply convert their cryptocurrency tokens online while keeping their data away from prying eyes. 

User’s privacy is enhanced by Swixer’s cross-chain swaps between the Ethereum chain and other blockchains which possess a working zero-knowledge protocol or privacy layer within the protocol.

Traditional VPN services route all users’ internet traffic through a remote server, hiding IP addresses and encrypting all incoming and outgoing data. For encryption, they use the OpenVPN and Internet Key Exchange v2/IPsec technologies in their applications.

One company admits their servers were hacked due to an expired internal private key being exposed, potentially allowing anyone to spin out their own servers imitating their own.

Logging policy

no logs! Mysterium protocol removes any technical possibility for collecting or storing logs centrally.

No logs.

No logs.

In theory, a centralized VPN *could* keep logs, but most state they are committed to a zero-logs policy.

Node Security

Mysterium allows users to select whitelisted traffic only, designed to protect nodes. However nodes can choose to accept any kind of traffic and increase their earning potential. They’ll soon identify and block bad actors from the network through the use of registered identities and reputation system.

Users can prevent certain kinds of attacks from malicious exit nodes by using a default exit node whitelist consisting of trusted VPN partners. Users can use their own whitelists, and eventually well known third parties will emerge as whitelist curators.

Sentinel is developing a relay network, where participants in the network can choose to be a relay or an exit node on which encrypted tunnels traffic between the VPN paid user and an exit node.

It will also involve the use of governance nodes which will dictate path of packet transmission between user and exit node.

Nodes are protected as the centralized VPN assumes all security and legal risks.

Ease of Use

VPN is a simple to use and free desktop or mobile application. 

New nodes can get set up in just 5 minutes and 5 steps via a simple, user-friendly dashboard. There is a knowledgebase and support team on hand to help. 

Users will need to have some basic understanding of cryptocurrency and must have an Ethereum wallet set up to receive payments.

Learn more about upcoming features.

VPN app designed for mobile and desktop. People wishing to be nodes must register and have some prior knowledge of cryptocurrency and staking.

Sentinel is not user-friendly and is better suited to more technically proficient users or those intuitive with Ethereum DApps and blockchain platforms.

Smart algorithms automatically select the best VPN server for you based on location, loads, or your special requirements.

They also have a dedicated support team.

Scalability

As with most P2P infrastructure, the more participants which join the network, the stronger and more robust it becomes.

Mysterium’s micropayments system is a homegrown Layer 2 solution. It was built to handle large volumes of users and transactions, making the network faster and more scalable.

Orchid uses a probabilistic payment system which scales to millions of transactions per second, enabling a highly liquid bandwidth market without a trusted central party.

Sentinel’s “multi-chain architecture” secures data exchange between people and both centralized and decentralized applications meaning. This is meant to solve problems with infrastructure and scaling.

Depends on high bandwidth throughput and fast connection speeds to provide an optimal service for their users. Often use multiple tunneling protocols to ensure their network can scale and can adapt to various needs.

Social following

11.3K Twitter Followers

2000 Medium Followers

2088 Telegram Members

27.1 K Twitter Followers

235 Medium Followers

4381 Telegram Members

3,392 Twitter Followers

336 Medium Followers

2946 Telegram Members

Not applicable.

Compatible with

Android, Mac, Windows, Linux.

iOS, Android, Mac, Linux, and (soon) Windows.

Mac, Windows, Linux, Android.

Android, Windows, Mac, iOS, Chrome/Firefox extension, Linux.

Decentralised?

You bet.

Of course.

Of course.

Nope. Decentra-what?

Network status

Testnet live – 900 residential nodes, with more than 300 live at any given point.

Between five and 10 node providers at launch, including players from both the traditional VPN world and “new entrants from the crypto space.”

83 nodes in the network, with an average of 28 at any time

Choose from over 5200 servers in 59 countries.

Also – several cases of being hAcKEd

Open Source?

Transparent and collaborative from Ground Zero – check out Myst codebase.

Duh. Everything to see here.

Yep. Peek under the hood here.

No – centralized VPNs are proprietary and closed source.

2019 Round Up – Building a Decentralised VPN

It’s been a whirlwind of a year at Mysterium Network. 

We wrapped up 2018 releasing our Android app (which has recently undergone some quality updates! So check it out and let us know what you think).

Nostalgia mixes with excitement as we compare where we’re at today with how much further we can take Mysterium Network.

As always, we are ever grateful for our growing community of nodes. You guys are the network, and we’re here to serve you.

By the numbers

In 2018 at any given time we had an average of 40 – 50 nodes, all powering away to help kickstart this network and push the movement forward. These were initially data center nodes, with residential nodes slowly filtering in. At the time we were struggling to enable stable and robust connections due to the inconsistent nature of the hardware they ran on.

In 2019 we grew that number to 400! That’s 10 x growth, but with a very important differentiating factor – a much stronger focus on Raspberry Pis to help us create a stable permissionless VPN network. 

As a young company pioneering a niche technology that’s a huge achievement. It also means we have a few hundred people who already believe in our vision and want to make the internet a better, fairer and more inclusive domain.

Over the past year, we also...

These little guys can change the world (wide web)

1. Introduced Raspberry Pi as a staple of our node network. 

Pis have proven to be our most stable node to date, providing the most consistent bandwidth. These little devices have catalysed our network growth and through them we’ve found a way to make being a node far easier and rewarding. Once up and running, our users can just forget all about them. 

We are exploring more node platforms to release in 2020. Have suggestions? Tell us which platform, device or mechanism and we might just have a bounty for you to help us create it…

2. Launched our node pilot.

We incentivised people to join our network, run a node and provide a service. This has been put in place as a Research and Development initiative and has seen multiple iterations. From this pilot, we’ve been able to understand network dynamics and test the speed, strength and integrity of our network. Big thanks to our wonderful community of nodes for sticking with us and for providing invaluable feedback, helping us we refine and grow Mysterium Network.

3. Began testing payments. 

You asked, and you shall receive! 

We announced that we’re close to launching payments on Mysterium. Payments are a crucial element of our network. As such, we needed to design a solution which was capable of meeting real world requirements of scalability and affordability. This system also had to comply with the ethos of decentralised ecosystems. These are two opposing forces, with no current solutions suitable for our use case.

But we believe we’ve developed a unique solution that fits our requirements.

This is more than just an exciting milestone for Mysterium Network We have worked extensively towards this moment for the better part of the year and are almost ready to deploy it. 

Find out more about our P2P payments system in our blog and technical deep dive from our in house payments genius Jaro Satkevic.

4. Partnered with Avado 

AVADO enables you to be a part of your favourite decentralised projects, like Mysterium. The team created an amazingly simple plug and play hardware device that connects you to many different kinds of blockchains. Using the AVADO Box, anyone can become a node to help power decentralised networks and earn cryptocurrency in the process. 

This is the first of many partnerships to come. Learn what they mean for you and for the Web3 in our blog post.

Building an app and want to provide your users with privacy? Learn how you can build on top of our network by checking out our GitHub.

5. Created a new platform for node runners. 


We built a new platform for our node community, called My.Mysterium.Network (MMN).

This dashboard-style interface is designed to improve the entire node running experience.  It’s a crucial part of our updated node infrastructure. All it takes is some quick setting up and login details to get you started

Now all our nodes can easily link their nodes and watch their earnings grow. We also built a strong support system with help.mysterium.network and the implementation of intercom (live chat). 

6. Enabled live streaming traffic from three businesses.

Real world traffic is flowing from B2B integrations into our network.

Building a B2B business while disrupting a market is no mean feat. In the last quarter of 2019 we’ve taken business partners through testing and integration, tested assumptions on how IPs will be treated by different services and gotten a more nuanced understanding of real world requirements of a permissionless VPN network.

We are working on streamlining partnerships, cleaning up documentation and offering a rock solid service to our business integration partners. Need Residential IPs? Talk to us. 

7. Kicked off our ambassador program, Mysterium Army. 

We consider our community to be our strongest asset. We’ve been a grassroots dVPN project since Day One. And we need your help in educating others on privacy, anti-censorship and the need for VPNs.

Enlist in our Army and discover how you can help us in this battle for the internet we all deserve. 

8. Attended the following events and conferences:

9. And sponsored these:

We cooled it somewhat on events this year to really focus on making our tech the best it can be.

But stay tuned for 2020, where we will be teaming up with other projects to host hackathons so you can not only learn about, but help us build and improve our network!

To all our nodes, community members, partners and supporters, we want to say the BIGGEST thank you from the bottom of our ethernet cables (and hearts).

We hope 2020 will be the year which launches our network into the stratosphere. 

✌️💜& 🥧

Team Myst 

Geoblocking; its impact on free speech to free movies online

We’ve all been there; “this content is unavailable in your country.” 

For many, geoblocking is an everyday inconvenience. For others, it’s a disguised form of censorship. This widely accepted practice allows companies to restrict access to their service based purely on your location. 

While this is generally for the sake of copyright and basic economics, in some extreme cases, it’s a violation of our human rights – such as the right to access information freely.

When the internet turns against you

Just imagine if the next time you went out to see a movie, you and your fellow viewers were each charged different ticket prices depending on your nationality. This is essentially what’s at play with geoblocking – location-based discrimination. And it’s happening to you every time you shop, stream or browse online. 

From Apple to small ecommerce stores, businesses the world over are varying their prices based on what they expect you to afford. Prices may even change depending on what time of day it is or the temperature outside. The digital economy has made it easy for companies to collect this data, later used to exploit your spending habits or socio-economic status. Even if you’re just a few suburbs apart, what price you pay may be vastly different to someone else in your own city. 

Last year, laws were introduced by the Council of the European Union to protect consumers from this kind of discrimination “based on customers’ nationality, place of residence or place of establishment.”

And while these anti-geoblocking regulations may be one initiative for tearing down these digital walls, there’s little to get excited about. These regulations only apply to businesses selling goods and services, but not online content more broadly. And ultimately, it’s up to the governments of its member states to enforce – so it might as well be optional. 

Yes, much of geoblocking comes down to basic economics. But the web was not designed to be segmented this way. It was designed to create a global village, where a user in Tibet had precisely the rights and opportunities as someone in Toronto. In an age where we’re supposedly more equal and connected than ever before, it’s a shame we can’t do better.

We’re still a long way from the equalized cyber utopia the internet promised us in the nineties.

Copyright, or wrong?

Some films and TV shows costs hundreds of millions to make. To their producers, these pieces of content are considered investments, which we help pay off everytime we pay to watch them. 

But digital piracy has become a huge problem worldwide, taking a huge cut out of their studio’s profits. Tens of billions of visits were made to media piracy sites worldwide in 2018 alone. If you can watch movies online for free, then why would you pay to see it in the cinema, or subscribe to a streaming service?

This unfortunate trend means the lifecycle of these films become shorter once they leave the cinema. In response, studios have begun selling their movies through on-demand streaming services like Apple’s iTunes store and Amazon Prime. These platforms can also sell ad space, milking more money out of their advertising space. 

But every market demands different content. What is a hit in some parts of the world is a flop in others. And with so much money at stake each time a film is created, studios enforce strict copyright laws to ensure they maximise the return on their investment. Each content-deal is carefully negotiated by territory. Studios charge outlets like Netflix far more to offer certain titles in some countries than others. This is why geoblocking has become such an effective method for honouring these copyright laws and agreements. 

Yet in today’s attention economy, the ultimate goal is to get as many eyes on a piece of content as possible. The more eyes, the more content can claim to be worth in ad revenue. If you geoblock something that a customer is willing to pay for with their potentially undivided attention, you may be sabotaging a potential revenue stream. This kind of thinking is surprisingly alien to those stuck in the ages of traditional television.

In fact, reports suggest that removing “unjustified geoblocking…could foster growth and increase consumer choice throughout the internal market.”

Free streaming - or freedom of speech?

Geoblocking is an inconvenience for those of us fortunate enough to access most content online. In some parts of the world, its use is far more sinister. Governments are even forcibly removing content from streaming services to aid their political agendas. 

In Turkey, for example, streaming services were previously allowed to operate outside the country’s censorship rules. But since September, every streaming service will now have to apply for a license which complies with government enforced internet regulation. The aim is to inhibit dissent, in all its digital forms. 

Content providers must now “navigate different political and moral landscapes” as calls for censorship expand worldwide. With a flick of a switch, businesses can willingly convene with oppressive regimes to prevent free access to information. Geoblocking has no longer become a method for business, but a veiled form of censorship. 

Our constant battle for free speech has become more obvious in the digital world. The open sharing of ideas built the privileged world we live in. Companies should be encouraging, not hindering, the flow of cultural and artistic exports around the world. In fact, this 2018 annual SEC report lists both censorship and “the need to adapt content… for specific cultural and language differences” as a commercial risk for these entertainment businesses.   

But more importantly, if we shelter society from alternative or diverse ways of thinking, we risk a cultural vacuum where nothing is challenged or changed. If censorship had its way, the civil rights movement would never have happened and we may still be convinced that the Sun orbits the Earth

The bird is the not the word

Geoblocking can also serve as a tool of government oppression, putting a chokehold on democracy. A prominent example is Turkey, where the government demanded that Twitter withhold hundreds of accounts affiliated with voices opposing the current regime.  

Similar injustices included blocking Twitter entirely just two weeks before the 2014 general election, and later again in the wake of a coup attempt against the Turkish president.

In his words;

“We’ll eradicate Twitter. I don’t care what the international community says. Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic.”

Situations like these, in many ways, say more about the alarming power of the big media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter than anything else. They’ve become as influential as a utility company. When paired with an unscrupulous government, the internet’s potential for fostering free, diverse discourse is starting to dwindle.  

When it comes to protecting free speech and human rights, the internet has the ability to be the world’s superhero.  

But this kind of geoblocking, and censorship more generally, is very much now the kryptonite slowly killing this hope.

Help us sink the Censorship - the power of the free VPN

It’s unlikely that governments and media platforms will support an open internet. If we’re to figure out this mess, our only hope is to find our own ways of circumventing unethical geoblocking and creating an internet that we all deserve. 

The world is well aware of this too. In fact, one quarter of the world has used a VPN in the last month. Looking at the leading markets of VPN usage, Asia Pacific leads the demand. This is closely followed by countries such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia (no surprises there). Wherever there is high tech and low freedom, demand for VPNs blossom. 

In today’s world VPNs are essential for online security and privacy. But the risks that occur with your typical VPN are more apparent than ever. 

Enter the decentralized VPN. While your typical centralized VPN will merely morph your current IP address into a new one, a decentralized VPN uses layered protection protocols to hide both your identity and location from any geoblockers or prying eyes. Doing this adds an extra layer of security and privacy; previously one’s only option was for our identities to pass through a centralized VPN, having them store our information in the process. This process meant that our identities were, all too often, protected by unreliable security measures

When you use a decentralized VPN, the service is powered entirely by other web users like you. Each person can rent out their IP address and bandwidth to others in this P2P network and earn crypto in exchange. Due to its distributed infrastructure, none of your data can be physically stored anywhere, and all traffic being routed through these personal nodes is heavily encrypted. 

The more nodes that join help increase the network’s speed and efficiency. So by simply offering up your spare bandwidth, you enable fellow Mysterium users to browse freely, avoiding geoblockers and every other force that quashes a free and open internet.

 The more nodes we run, the freer and more private our online lives become. It’s that simple.

We already have 812 nodes in our network and we’re growing fast. Check out our network dashboard to see all our nodes around the world

Find out if you’re eligible to become a node get paid for your excess internet.

Please beware of scams. We will never ask you for your private keys.

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