Privacy infrastructure, challenges and opportunities

Conference:  Defcon 26



The presentation discusses the process of becoming a 501c3 transit ISP and the challenges faced by the organization. It also highlights the importance of legal and technical policies in ensuring compliance and protecting user privacy.
  • The organization went through a process of becoming a 501c3 transit ISP, which involved choosing an NTEE code and submitting an application to the IRS.
  • The process was not as difficult as expected and did not require the assistance of a CPA or lawyer.
  • The organization received a large number of automated abuse complaints, which were mostly related to spam and SSH attacks.
  • The organization developed legal and technical policies to ensure compliance with DMCA safe harbor and protect user privacy.
  • The organization faces challenges in terms of network redundancy, IPv4 exhaustion, and finding technical volunteers.
The organization made a mistake by leasing IP space from their upstream ISP instead of running as a middle relay until they got their own IP scopes. This resulted in the ISP threatening to charge them for abuse complaints. However, the organization had already received approval for their own IP scope and was in transition to using it.


We started our own transit Internet Service Provider (ISP) to safely route anonymized packets across the globe, and you can too. Emerald Onion is a Seattle-based 501(c)3 not-for-profit and we want to help other hacker collectives start their own. Getting your own Autonomous System Number (ASN), managing Internet Protocol (IP) scopes, using Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) in Internet Exchange Points (IXPs), dealing with abuse complaints or government requests for user data -- this is all stuff that you can do. Not every technologist is comfortable with launching and managing a nonprofit organization let alone has all of the technical knowhow to run an ISP. We didn't either when we started. We had a goal, and that was to route unfiltered Tor exit traffic in the Seattle Internet Exchange despite National Security Agency (NSA) wiretaps in the Westin Exchange Building. This talk will cover high level challenges and opportunities surrounding privacy infrastructure in the United States.



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