Editor’s Note: There seems to be some confusion over the concept of the PirateBox. The entire point is not to be connected to the controlled, restricted, & monopolized Internet, and begin using local alternatives leveraging technology to go around draconian laws and regulations.
A PirateBox is the smallest, but easiest way to connect with others locally and wirelessly,as well as anonymously, without connecting at all to the Internet. It is the first step to building larger local mesh networks, and eventually a parallel Internet built using mesh architecture designed, maintained, and used by the people, for the people – no government or corporate infrastructure would be required, and the means of monopolizing and controlling a decentralized people’s Internet made nearly impossible.
Think of the PirateBox as a prototype of a building block for something bigger and more significant. In the fight for freedom, we will not find complete solutions, prepackaged and waiting for us on the shelves of WalMart. We will have to research and develop our own solutions, patiently, incrementally, and in collaboration with our friends, family, neighbors and local community. Our problems were not created overnight, neither will the solutions. -Tony Cartalucci.
January 19, 2013 (LocalOrg-Tony Cartalucci) – Worried about draconian Internet
laws? Creeping surveillance? The inability to share with others without
being criminalized? The Internet is still a tool of tremendous power,
but a deep rot has set in. We have caught it early and we are fighting
to stop this rot, but there are other options we can begin exploring to
hedge our bets, enhance our current efforts of fighting against
corporate monopolies, and eventually, build an Internet of the people, by the people, for the people – big-telecom monopolies not welcomed.
Image: The PirateBox in use on a handheld device. Once the
PirateBox is up and running, either on a standalone device like the one
pictured to the right (background), or on your laptop as described here,
it will appear as another WiFi network for people in range to connect
to. Once connected files can be freely shared, and there is even a chat
client users can communicate with. It is just as useful as a file server
for a small business, as it is for circumventing the draconian
criminalization of Internet file sharing.
In last week’s “Fighting Back Against the “Intellectual Property” Racket,”
the “PirateBox” was introduced. The PirateBox transforms a laptop,
router, or single board computer into a mini-Internet hub where files
can be freely shared, and even features a chat program so users can
communicate. It is a lite version of the mesh networks described in
December 2012’s “Decentralizing Telecom”
where independent mesh networks featured many software alternatives to
emulate popular online programs such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, and
others. The PirateBox is an introductory project anyone with a WiFi
adapter and a USB thumbdrive can do on their own with a little
motivation and an hour to experiment.
In a busy office, a PirateBox can serve as a simple local wireless file
server and chat client. In an apartment complex, it can become the
center of a social experiment, an opportunity to reach out to neighbors
and organize constructively, or just for fun – building badly needed
local communities back up.
Instructions for perhaps the easiest of PirateBox’s implementations can be found on blogger, designer, and activist David Darts’ website here.
The instructions are nearly fool proof, and a lot of the common
problems ran into are described and their solutions linked to throughout
The PirateBox does not connect to the Internet, nor does it operate from
your hard drive. It works entirely on the USB thumbdrive you install it
on, simply using your computer’s WiFi to network all who are in range.
Ideally you’d want to make a dedicated, standalone PirateBox to serve
your space, office, and neighbors. A great place for beginners to embark
on this is at your local hackerspace. If you don’t have a local
hackerspace, look into starting one up.
Protesting is important, but protesting alone will not stem the problem
at its source. The rot will continue to spread unless we develop
tangible tools to pragmatically excise it and repair the damage it has
already done. The problem of corporate monopolies
ensnaring and subjugating us through their telecom monopolies can and
is being solved by solutions like mesh networks, the PirateBox, and the
onward march of open source software and hardware, simply displacing
proprietary products and services. The best way to ensure success is to
have as many informed and constructive people as possible join in the
Since posting about the PirateBox, LocalOrg has received several success
stories of people who have either already been using it, or have looked
into it, prompting this follow up. Continue sharing your success, and if you would like, contact us and have them
covered here on LocalOrg.