In the Orwellian society we live in today, privacy has become a disposable good for some and a precious rarity for others. While some unknowingly exchange their privacy for access to certain services or apps, others try to protect it by all means necessary. Whichever category you place yourself in, one thing is certain: privacy should be a universal right.
“Privacy is necessary for an open society in the electronic age.” Eric Hughes, A Cypherpunk’s Manifesto 1993
Blockchain technology has always been at the forefront of financial privacy with technologies like Monero’s Ring Signatures, Dash’s DarkSend/Masternodes and Zcash’s ZK-Snarks. However, it seems like blockchain technology may also have another privacy-driven use case: browsing.
Despite the existence of VPNs, internet privacy is still an issue. Not only are some of these VPN services too expensive, but they are also unreliable. Since their business model is centralized, VPNs can protect our privacy from the outside world but not from themselves. These services have access to the information you’re trying to protect and they may be forced to divulge it, depending on the situation.
That’s why Mysterium is a potentially disruptive solution for the pressing internet privacy issue typical internet users face today. Mysterium is a peer-to-peer blockchain-based VPN service network in which users can buy anonymity and secure network connections or rent out their unused network traffic while giving buyers a secure connection.
“We believe the Internet should be a place where anonymity and freedom is our right, not a privilege.
But as the world stands today — this is not the case, there is an enormous amount of spying, tracking, blocking, data-mining, all done without our knowledge.” Vidunas Gedeikis, Lead Software Developer, co-founder of Mysterium.
So, what are the advantages of using a Decentralized VPN?
First off, we have privacy. When you use Mysterium you will be assigned an anonymous identity which consists of a unique hash and acts as your identifier within the network, allowing a reputation system to be built on top of this anonymous identity. This means that no entity or person can provide any information regarding the service you purchased or about your actual browsing habits.
Then, we have the price. Traditional VPN providers charge for their service on the outdated subscription-based model, which results in users paying for much more than what they use. Since Mysterium takes advantage of the Ethereum network as a payment processor for its Decentralized VPN, small and microtransactions are possible, allowing users to pay for what they use and nothing more. (For a better performance microtransactions will be executed off Ethereum blockchain and when the session is closed payment will be executed via Mysterium smart contract).
Reliability is also higher with a decentralized VPN network mike Mysterium in which one service provider may fail or not be available, another will take his place.
Decentralized competition. The nature of Mysterium allows those with less of resources to monetize them efficiently, which would not be possible in the current market, where big companies have a “monopoly” over the service.
Lastly, the prosumer market model allows users to be both clients and service providers in the same network, meaning that this can be both a service you use or a revenue stream for any idle network traffic.
We can see that this is a promising idea that, if executed correctly, can provide VPN users and service providers with multiple advantages. In order to fully develop and market the idea, Mysterium held a seeding round in December which ended in the first 15 hours.