File Sharing Drones Proof Of Concept Already Built

from the fly-drone-fly dept

There was a fair bit of discussion recently about the story of The Pirate Bay exploring using drones to build a flying file sharing system — with many insisting that such a thing was a completely ridiculous-to-impossible notion. They might want to think again. It seems that a proof of concept had already been built by a different group, who had no idea that TPB was considering this idea. Liam Young from Tomorrow’s Thoughts Today already built what’s basically an implementation of the what the Pirate Bay described, which you can see below:

Of course, the key here is that these are just setting up a drone-based local-area network, rather than one connected to the wider internet, but that’s easy enough to add at some point (especially as wireless technology improves). There’s still a long way to go towards a full-scale system such as what the Pirate Bay guys envision, but the technology itself isn’t that far fetched.

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Companies: the pirate bay

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Comments on “File Sharing Drones Proof Of Concept Already Built”

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ComputerAddict (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“International waters” doesn’t mean it is lawless. These drones would still be under the jurisdiction from which they were launched. If they choose not to specify a jurisdiction for the aircraft (i.e. unregistered Aircraft) they may, and probably will fall under ‘universal jurisdiction’ where multiple countries can claim jurisdiction for crimes committed by the craft. Meaning instead of choosing a country with liberal laws to host from, the MAFIAA gets to pick a country with the most conservative copyright/trademark laws and use them to go after the drones.. Talk about slam dunk for the MAFIAA.

I have to say this story is a great attention grab, but really just a gimmick, unless TPB didn’t do a google search for “International Waters” because the second result talks about whether they are ‘lawless’ and “international waters for planes” the fourth result talks specifically about flying craft. So either no one at the TPB did the search, which is kinda hard to believe… or its a hoax.

“As a general rule, ships sailing in international waters are under the jurisdiction of the state or nation to which the vessel is registered. The same applies to planes flying in international airspace.

This means that the laws of the county to which the ship or plane is registered will apply while in transit in international waters or airspace”

Anonymous Coward says:

This should not be taken as a substitute for good old fashion protesting.

The FAA – Government-industrial complex can shoot those things down in seconds (and they have taxpayer resources to do it), while those things cost money for people to create, not to mention they can impose huge liabilities on anyone caught using or delivering these devices which can be a huge deterrence to their spread.

Bad laws need to be repealed, not simply worked around. Otherwise, you have a situation like China or Russia.

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Finally! an excuse to employ naval artillery.

someone was talking about funding a carrier… how about a battleship? Much harder to kill (pure ability to take damage and keep functioning, not more damage resistant) and pretty much perfect of C&C work. much cheaper to maintain it’s guns than the planes on a carrier, too.

(well, sadly there’s the downside of carriers being able to kill ’em, but that’s what Light carriers are for: dedicated interception duty. much cheaper than a standard carrier.)

that said, what you probably Actually want is a stealth cruiser.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“If they are in international waters and are shot down TPB has a chance to get back at them with a huge lawsuit.”

Laws governing international waters can easily be changed by various governments willing to do so at the control of various pro-IP interests.

The reason no anti-drone laws of this nature cover International waters yet is simply because drones that can be used to infringe, and hence impede on various government granted monopoly privileges, hadn’t existed before. If this does manage to circumvent various government established monopoly privileges, trust me, laws governing international waters will change and governments will find a way to legally stop these things with impunity.

None of this will stop piracy, of course, it can’t, but it will impede political communication and it will impede competition against government established monopoly communication channels, artificially raising the price of communication in general.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

As I recall the last time someone opened up a “law of the sea” debate to update and reform maritime law it took close to a decade to make much in the way of progress on it and some of the work remains incomplete to this day. Even the limits on territorial waters are unfinished which leads to the amusing situation of countries only able to claim a 200 (not 12) mile limit but a much broader economic zone which is often used for fisheries enforcement.

I’m not all that sure they’d have a hard time finding a state more friendly to their cause and business to act as a land station either. That being the case if State A opens fire on TPB’s drones which are registered in State B; State B can consider this an act of war no matter what State A’s excuses are. Hardly impunity.

And a precedent has been set. While pirate radio clearly broke the UK’s right to regulate the public airwaves (grant a monopoly on spectrum) the Royal Navy never, to the best of my knowledge, never seized or sunk a pirate radio ship operating in international waters. So there is no need to change maritime law as this has already been settled by that example. At least as far as these things ever do get settled.

Michael Long (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Because so many of us are sitting around 12 miles offshore waiting to download the latest episode of Thrones. Besides, even if you could provide some sort of proof, the US would just shrug and say it was protecting its national security interests.

Heck, just track the silly things and seize them on the ground.

Joe says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I don’t think you understand how this would work. They would have a range in the 10’s of kilometers. They would not need a specific, easy-to-pinpoint control system. They would be extremely easy to destroy with a powerful microwave beam and deniable as well.

Irony: Destroying them would be an act of international piracy and terrorism, by the definitions most people use. 😉

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

You just can’t get enough coverage from international waters to make it work out. How far is it from Toledo Ohio to international waters? Do you honestly think you can get a high speed wireless network to do that, that is cheap enough, and is using legal bandwidth?

Sorry, the whole idea is a non-starter, and amusing sideline that shows only what people will do to steal content – how desperate they must be!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

That’s not the point. The point is that you put a search engine and torrent hosts in a cluster in international waters where it can’t be seized and you have multiple working together so that if a few that you can’t take the entire thing out by taking down a couple of them but only one of them has to have a connection to a single node on the Internet for people to be able to get to it but it has multiple points of failure which all have to be taken out in order to stop it. And it’s movable. The plan isn’t to have just a couple of these running around. They are thinking on a scale that would be difficult to stop.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

You keep forgetting – they need connectivity. Clearly anything working that hard to hide offshore is illegal, and won’t be able to easily get internet connectivity without lying, or deception, or other means to mislead providers.

The thing has to connect somewhere, and that is the point where it will fail – EVERY TIME.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Correct. All they have to do is set up their server in some jurisdiction with no extradition treaty with the USA, plus law enforcement that is of the opinion that it has better things to do, and they are good. Those countries that are hosting USA-directed gambling servers would be a good choice.

The Pirate Bay is engaged in a publicity stunt. They do not actually need to use drones.

Free Citizen says:

Re: Re: Re: Get Stuffed

You just can’t get enough coverage from international waters to make it work out.

It would work out fine. Get off your sorry fat ass and move if you’re too far away, you spoiled lazy lump.

How far is it from Toledo Ohio to international waters?

Who gives a shit? This is for the Free World, not the Dying Police States of Fascism.

I know its hard for you to believe, but the world does not revolve around your sorry dumb asses.

ComputerAddict (profile) says:

Re: Not sure why they bother with drones....

I agree with the why bother with drones, but more so in the fact that flying is far more inefficient and harder to implement than a waterproof lifeboat with a gps and solar powered motor.

I choose lifeboat because they are designed to auto-right themselves when blown over by a large wave. They will use way less power to use them and potentially could harness enough power via solar panels mounted to the boat to stay out there indefinitely.

weneedhelp (profile) says:

Re: Re:

If by pirates you mean free transfer of information blocked by oppressive governments, then yes. GO PIRATES!!!

I know how you guys just hate people being able to communicate freely on a mass scale.

This has nothing to do with piracy, and everything to do with the citizenry being able to communicate.

Nice try though.

I know I know AC but but but… piracy… for the children blah blah blah.

Beta (profile) says:

foreseeable consequences

Drones are getting smaller, cheaper and smarter. In time they’ll become enough of a nuisance that anti-drone measures will become commonplace (and an ineffectual tracery of law may form around them, too).

Near-earth orbit is an even more pollutible region than urban airspace. Orbital debris is already an enormous pain; a paint flake or a machine screw travelling at orbital velocity can do serious damage to a delicate instrument (like say, a satellite), debris can stay up for a long time, and collisions just create more debris. A long-term solution will be tricky, but suffice to say a hacker group that tried to inject thousands of microsatellites into orbit without permission would make itself seriously unpopular.

I like the idea of a covert network riding legitimate hardware. Most the smartphones in a city working together could form a pretty nice one. And it could be made deniable too: a smartphone worm could create such a network, so any particular person with a file-sharing phone could plausibly be completely innocent and unaware of what was going on– and this would be true even if no such worm had ever actually made the rounds.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: foreseeable consequences

“Near-earth orbit is an even more pollutible region than urban airspace. Orbital debris is already an enormous pain; a paint flake or a machine screw travelling at orbital velocity can do serious damage to a delicate instrument (like say, a satellite), debris can stay up for a long time, and collisions just create more debris. A long-term solution will be tricky, but suffice to say a hacker group that tried to inject thousands of microsatellites into orbit without permission would make itself seriously unpopular.”

1. There is A LOT of space to be occupied before collisions become a frequent occurrence. This is even increased by the fact that there are multiple levels of orbit that can be utilized before it becomes a serious problem.

2. So develop the micro-satellites to be encased to deploy a soft exterior or better yet maybe you could use reverse electro-magnetism that could be triggered by a proximity sensor and repel other objects so that they don’t collide with them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: foreseeable consequences

This isn’t that far fetched actually and shouldn’t be too terribly expensive to deploy on a pretty large scale. Think about how many Raspberry Pi’s you could cluster and MicroSD cards you could use for file storage, then add a transmitter/receiver. Develop a relay system between them to network them and a request and response protocol.

All someone would need to do then is have the right instructions to on how to mod a SatTV dish to access the network and Bingo Bango… On Demand file server network available to anyone that wanted to access it. Doesn’t even have to be connected to the Internet at all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: foreseeable consequences

My point was the problems you suggest are not that difficult to overcome. Ok maybe the electro-magnetism thing might be a little difficult to do but it’s not hard to wrap something in a thick layer of soft foam. And the technology to do this sort of thing is cheap it’s likely to happen and will be difficult to stop.

Beta (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 foreseeable consequences

It’s reverse electro-magnetism! And it involves magnetic (reverse magnetic?) fields that must be in the, what, Megatesla? (Reverse Megatesla?) And it works on non-ferrous debris. Why, that’s no problem at all, I’ll bet Tony Stark could build this in a cave! With a box of scraps!

I also like your idea of “a thick layer of soft foam”. Are you perchance thinking of six inches of foam rubber? People have actually been working on this problem for a while.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 foreseeable consequences

And the problem they are working is much harder because the objects they are worried about colliding with each other are much larger in scale than what I’m talking about. Who knows? It might be as simple as adding a six inch layer of some sort of foam rubber for these to not be a threat to other objects. I still say they likely would like operate at a lower altitude than the ones that are currently there such that they would likely not be an issue either.

Joe says:

Re: Re: Re: foreseeable consequences

You must have been boring in an engineering or physics class. 😉

And comic book physics this isn’t. People didn’t just pull that out of their rear like Star Wars’ Death Star. Ferromagnetism is just one kind. You can use magnetic fields to repel metals as well as attract. And yeah, even a ‘soft’ exterior would be a disaster if it hit a solar panel.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m stealing this from someone else on the internet, but it’s just too good not to share.

Imagine the first time one of the TPB drones collides with a commercial passenger flight. Here’s the headline in the NY Times:

Criminal Pirate Aircraft Collides with Jetliner – Pirate craft creating hazards for air transportation industry…

Aaaannd here’s the headline here at Techdirt:

Commercial Jetliner Downs Pirate Bay Server – A consortium of interests including the RIAA, MPAA, and government agencies hijack a jet aircraft to wage Al-Qaida style attack on the Pirate Bay! 253 people dead…

You guys and you’re fantasies… you never cease to amaze.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Drones flying at low altitude in international airspace are a hazard for commercial air transportation that flies at altitudes of thousands of meters?


There is also the fact that flight routes are pretty much standard and well known. If “pirates” manage to solve the engineering problems of putting a drone in the air in international waters for long enough to be useful (and keep it there) I think they won’t have any problem in avoiding known flight routes.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

1. Airliners operate at an altitude FAR above these sorts of drones except when taking off and landing. How many commercial airports can you name in International Waters?

2. Commercial airliners also have long range radar and are directed by air traffic controllers with long range radar which would spot the drones long before they had a chance to collide.

So it appears you are the one with the fantasies.

Anonymous Coward says:

Under the radar

One of the things that make this project possible is that it’s hard for legacy industries that still can’t imagine how the internet works, isn’t likely to take this seriously. This idea is so far outside their little box of “pipes” or “tubes” or whatever solid modeling concept that it could develop very quickly.

There really are quite a few examples of people working on very similar projects for a variety of reasons. TPB going to magnets freed them up immensly. That was probably step one.

Here’s another example:

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