Internet Security Technology Explained

The MegaNet: How an Internet Without IP Addresses Would Work

Bryan Clark 20-01-2016

The Internet is without a doubt one of the most important inventions in modern history. Never before have we had unfettered access to the wealth of the world’s knowledge with just a few keystrokes.


It’s also a flawed vehicle that’s ripe for corruption, and Kim Dotcom hopes to change all that.

According to him, MegaNet will be a newer, better version of the same Internet we all know and love. It’ll feature heavy end-to-end encryption, no IP addresses, and a decentralized structure that makes operation a “for the people, by the people” proposition rather than relying on gatekeepers and government regulation.

It’s ambitious, to say the least.

What Is MegaNet?

In short, the plan for MegaNet is an Internet that’s free from government rule, hackers, and those looking to exploit the massive amounts of data we all leave behind on the Web as we use it. To get there, Dotcom plans to use a lot of technology that we’re already using, most notably: smartphones.

The plan involves using the collective processing power, storage, and bandwidth of hundreds of millions of smartphone users. Each user will donate data to be consumed during those idle periods when they aren’t using it — while they’re sleeping, for example. This data will then be pooled to create the resources needed to send and store files from all corners of the globe.


It’s a similar concept to how a botnet works Is Your PC A Zombie? And What's a Zombie Computer, Anyway? [MakeUseOf Explains] Have you ever wondered where all of the Internet spam comes from? You probably receive hundreds of spam-filtered junk emails every day. Does that mean there are hundreds and thousands of people out there, sitting... Read More , except without all of the malice.

MegaNet is intended to be safer for its users by making heavy use of encryption How Does Encryption Work, and Is It Really Safe? Read More  to keep data packets secure from prying eyes. This would prevent the increasingly common data leaks — often including credit card and bank account info — that plague the Web today.

MegaNet will also rely on the blockchain, which is a public ledger that records and stores Bitcoin transactions. Instead of Bitcoin transactions, however, this modified version of the blockchain would store files so that they’re accessible at all times without relying on the traditional server technology we use today.

Instead, chunks of data that make up the Internet — or more accurately, the MegaNet — would be distributed across the globe and then accessed directly from your device.


To keep the MegaNet online at all times — in case the user hosting the file is offline when you attempt to access it — these files would be spread across the globe and multiple users would host each file, or at least pieces of each file.

Why Is MegaNet Even Necessary?

Anecdotally, I think we’re all feeling the pinch of data breaches The eBay Data Breach: What You Need To Know Read More and government spying Avoiding Internet Surveillance: The Complete Guide Internet surveillance continues to be a hot topic so we've produced this comprehensive resource on why it's such a big deal, who's behind it, whether you can completely avoid it, and more. Read More .

But if we look at qualitative means, such as this survey by NCC Group, we’ll see that 77 percent of online shoppers don’t feel completely confident that they won’t be part of a data breach, 62 percent are more concerned with online security than they’ve ever been, and 64 percent believe that they’ll be the victim of a breach in the next twelve months.

Not only that, but almost 40 percent of Americans are “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about government monitoring of online traffic, according to Pew Research. A nearly identical number expressed concern about government monitoring of their cell phone activity.


Privacy aside, there’s also a really big elephant in the room that nobody seems to want to address: who actually controls the Internet? While there isn’t a governing body, per se, the U.S. Government has taken it upon itself in recent years to police the Internet — and not just in the United States.

Kim Dotcom has firsthand experience with this, as he’s currently awaiting an appeal after being cleared for extradition to the United States to stand trial for federal racketeering, money laundering, and copyright infringement charges.

Aside from the Dotcom example, the U.S. Government was also the most integral influence in Sweden’s — a country with notoriously lax copyright laws — decision to send Pirate Bay co-founders Frederik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm, and Peter Sunde to prison for facilitating copyright infringement through their popular torrent site.

Ultimately, MegaNet isn’t just about security and privacy from hackers and the prying eyes of the government. It’s about creating an Internet that’s virtually untouchable. Without IP addresses, individuals and websites can’t be hacked. You can’t run DDoS attacks What Is a DDoS Attack? [MakeUseOf Explains] The term DDoS whistles past whenever cyber-activism rears up its head en-masse. These kind of attacks make international headlines because of multiple reasons. The issues that jumpstart those DDoS attacks are often controversial or highly... Read More . You can’t pull websites down for violations of the laws of any single governing body.


MegaNet is about freedom and transparency, things the Internet was praised for at inception but seems poised to lose as its foundation crumbles under the weight of it all.

Can MegaNet Actually Happen?

Yes, but it probably won’t, at least as Dotcom currently describes it.

The Internet is constantly evolving. We’ve moved from HTTP to HTTPS What Is HTTPS & How To Enable Secure Connections Per Default Security concerns are spreading far and wide and have reached the forefront of most everybody's mind. Terms like antivirus or firewall are no longer strange vocabulary and are not only understood, but also used by... Read More in recent years to shore up security through better encryption. We’re in the process of switching from IPv4 to IPv6 IPv4 Addresses Have Run Out: Here's How It Affects You We're out of IPv4 addresses yet we aren't adopting IPv6. What's the problem? How can we speed everything along? But most importantly, why does it even matter? Read More to provide more IP addresses. We’re debating appropriate levels of privacy versus loss of liberty.

We’re still in the infancy stages of the Internet, and it’s only natural that it continues to grow and adapt to the changing needs of its users.

Dotcom’s service has a number of problems, not the least of which is the fact that he could be facing a lengthy prison sentence in the United States should he lose his appeal. Another roadblock to consider is government interference, which could grind the whole process to a halt by outlawing the technologies that the service is built upon.

So far, tethering hundreds of millions of cell phones, building in safeguards that prevent government intrusion, and anonymizing currency transfers through use of the blockchain are all in a legal gray area. Any or all of these could be banned, which would effectively end MegaNet before it ever built up the steam it needs to take off.

Speaking of taking off, that’s another major flaw in the theory. In order to reach critical mass, MegaNet needs a staggeringly high number of users to make this even feasible. Dotcom says he predicts 100 million users will sign up in the first year. As astronomical as that number seems, it’s not even clear if that would be enough to avoid major bottlenecks.


MegaNet, it appears, might be far before its time. In order to execute something at this grand a scale, you need one of two things to happen:

  1. A good deal of the world’s population to be contributing resources via smartphone data.
  2. Technology to improve.

We’re certain of number two, but the adoption numbers strike me as, well, optimistic. I wouldn’t argue against a need for this kind of service, but as a tech writer, it’s quite clear that the general public wouldn’t understand this nor have any real inclination as to why it was needed (without a healthy dose of education).

If it were as simple as “this is better than what you’re currently using”, we’d all be using Bitcoin The Current State of Cryptocurrency It's been a wild ride for cryptocurrency since Bitcoin (BTC) became the first decentralized digital currency in 2009. Read More by now, and we all know that isn’t happening any time soon. Consumer education remains a significant hurdle to adoption. With lower adoption numbers, the technology needs to get more sophisticated in order to avoid bottlenecks.

We should also note that this is very much a theoretical proposition at this point. The science checks out, the technology is available, and Web users are more security-conscious than ever, but changing consumer behaviors is a tricky proposition.

Dotcom and his team have their work cut out for them, but we’ll get our first glimpse of MegaNet at some point in 2016.

What do you think of a private Internet without IP addresses? Would you use it?

Image Credit: Kim Dotcom addresses the crowd by Peter Harrison via Flickr

Related topics: Internet Censorship, Online Privacy, Online Security.

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  1. thinker
    January 23, 2016 at 9:55 pm

    If you have any clue at all about the intrusiveness of government and what they have planned for all of us, you'd be hot on finding a way, ANY way possible to wrest control of our personal lives away from them. Obviously they will fight back using any means at all, legal or otherwise, so we need to also explore ANY means possible to protect ourselves from them.

    The internet concept is part of us now and is poised to either be configured to monitor each and every one of us for government and big business, or, be configured to place people, not government, in the center of our existence. Read and study history. All this has been done before and we are on that same road again. Are we too dumified to see it? will we take action?

    It seems to me that this is one way to begin fighting back. I for one do not feel I have the control over my life that our constitution supposedly guarantees. Nearly all other options have already been locked down by law. This needs our full support!

  2. Anonymous
    January 20, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    MegaNet sounds lovely in theory but, realistically, how will governments be prevented from taking control? All they have to do is claim the right to license any new technology.