– The American company Lantern is building a peer-to-peer network on the territory of the Russian Federation, which will allow the exchange of content even if Russia is completely disconnected from the global Internet.
– In the next few weeks, the network will be completely ready.
– Users will be able to use the Lantern app to post content directly to the Lantern network without worrying about it being removed or blocked.
Lantern is a free peer-to-peer internet censorship circumvention tool, used for casual web browsing. It provides a way to bypass state-sanctioned filtration through a network of trusted users, but it’s not an anonymity tool like Tor
While Russia was preparing to disconnect the Runet from the global Internet and gain complete control over the information flow, the American company Lantern was also preparing, but of a completely different kind – it was building a stable network on the territory of the Russian Federation that the Russian government could not turn off.
Over the past four weeks, the Lantern application has been rapidly gaining popularity among Russian users, allowing them to bypass the blocking of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Now the company is building something more resilient—an internal peer-to-peer network that allows Russian users to upload and share content even if the government shuts down the Internet completely.
“We have been collecting the network piece by piece in Russia for the past two years. So, in Russia, Lantern is now also a peer-to-peer network with all oppositional content distributed internally,” one of the company’s developers, who wished to remain anonymous, told VICE News.
In the next few weeks, the network will be completely ready, and oppositionists will be able to use the Lantern app to post content (videos from protests, events in Ukraine, etc.) directly to the Lantern network without worrying that it will be removed or blocked.
In the past four weeks, traffic passing through Lantern servers has increased by 100,000%. The company did not disclose the number of users of its app in Russia, but noted that it has had 150 million downloads worldwide and now has 7 million monthly active users, more than twice as many as three years ago.
This week, Russian user traffic outpaced that of Chinese users, who have been Lantern’s top customers for several years.
While other VPN companies are facing attempts to block their work in Russia, Lantern works differently than traditional VPNs. The app lets you access regionally blocked services like Netflix and BBC iPlayer, and its censorship bypass technology is more robust. The company hasn’t experienced any disruptions to its service in Russia over the past few weeks, thanks in large part to years of experience circumventing censorship in China.
If Russia is completely disconnected from the global Internet, even the use of traditional VPNs will not help, and here the new Lantern peer-to-peer network will come to the rescue, which will allow users to communicate and publish content without censorship.