While Russia was preparing to disconnect the Runet from the global Internet and gain full control over the information flow, the American company Lantern was also preparing, but of a completely different kind – it was building a stable network on the territory of the Russian Federation that the Russian government could not turn off.
Instagram Facebook, Twitter and Instagram blocking has been rapidly gaining popularity among Russian users over the past four weeks. Now the company is building something more sustainable – an internal peer-to-peer network that allows Russian users to upload and share content even in the event of a complete government shutdown of the Internet.
“We have been piecing together the network in Russia for two years now. So, in Russia now, Lantern is also a peer-to-peer network with all opposition content distributed internally,” one of the company’s developers, who wished to remain anonymous, told VICE News.
In the next few weeks, the network will be fully ready, and oppositionists will be able to use the Lantern app to publish content (videos from protests, events in Ukraine, etc.) directly to the Lantern network, without worrying that it will be deleted or blocked.
Over the past four weeks, traffic passing through the Lantern servers has increased by 100,000%. The company did not disclose the number of users of its application in Russia, but noted that it has been downloaded 150 million times worldwide and currently has 7 million active users per month – twice as many as three years ago.
This week, the traffic of Russian users surpassed the traffic of users in China, who have been the main customers of Lantern for several years.
While other VPN companies face attempts to block their work in Russia, Lantern does not work like traditional VPNs. The application allows you to access services blocked at the regional level like Netflix and BBC iPlayer, and its censorship circumvention technology is more stable. Over the past few weeks, the company has not encountered any failures in the operation of its service in Russia, largely due to many years of experience circumventing censorship in China.
If Russia is completely disconnected from the world Internet, even using traditional VPNs will not help, and here the new peer-to-peer network Lantern will come to the rescue, which will allow users to communicate and publish content without censorship.