The Internet was invented for everyone. An open platform to access information, collaborate, and communicate freely across borders. Unfortunately, it’s no longer a place of true openness and freedom. But, we can change that. We’ve created an open-source protocol with a token-based bandwidth exchange to protect everyone around the world from censorship and surveillance.
Internet access for over 75% of the global population is restricted or censored. ISPs worldwide harvest and sell users’ data to the highest bidder. Orchid is a new surveillance-free layer on top of the existing Internet, allowing users to bypass firewalls, access information, and communicate freely. Join us and help create a truly independent, censorship-free Internet.
Orchid combines its protocol with surplus bandwidth, state-of-the art-encryption, and a decentralized infrastructure to bring users surveillance-free access to the existing Internet. Because everyone is surveilled and bandwidth is ubiquitous, Orchid users can exchange bandwidth in peer-to-peer transactions using Orchid tokens on the Ethereum blockchain.
Orchid is an open-source project committed to ending surveillance and censorship on the Internet. The Orchid protocol uses an overlay network built upon the existing Internet, which is driven by a peer-to-peer tokenized bandwidth exchange, creating a more inclusive, liberated Internet. Orchid Labs Inc. is a delaware company with the mission of promoting and supporting the research and development of the Orchid Protocol. Orchid Labs Inc. was founded in 2017 by leading technologists and is headquartered in San Francisco, California.
To make the Internet free of surveillance and censorship again.
The orchid protocol is an open-source overlay network that runs on top of the Internet. Its fully decentralized, because rather than traffic being routed through central authorities—your ISP or your VPN—it’s instead routed randomly through a network of bandwidth contributors who sign up to share their surplus bandwidth and activate their Internet-connected device as a “node.”
Users that want to access an uncensored Internet (bandwidth consumers) pay the bandwidth contributors in Orchid tokens through a peer-to-peer exchange. Because neither the traffic nor the payments can be monitored by central authorities, both contributors and consumers of bandwidth enjoy a fully anonymous, surveillance-free experience.
Orchid protocols are available in private alpha to select recipients today. Later this year, all Orchid software will be published to the open source community. Early in 2018 we plan to offer a public beta of the Orchid Protocol to help billions of users on all corners of the globe make Internet Freedom a reality.
To support Orchid Labs and its mission, the company has raised $4.7M seed SAFT (Simple Agreement for Future Tokens) from investors including Sequoia, Andreessen Horowitz, DFJ, PolyChain Capital, Metastable, Blockchain Capital, Crunchfund, Struck Capital, Compound VC, and several other funds and angel investors.
Right now we don't. What we are releasing today are system designs and an initial implementation. Although we *believe* these to be secure, there are many properties we would like to actually prove the system possesses, and audits we would like the system to pass, before we will feel confident in its security. These security checks will consume the majority of our time between now and our Q1 release.
Yes. Our initial release operates with a threat model of an authoritarian government's internet censorship--such as that seen in China, Turkey, or Russia--which is a more tractable problem. We may implement full Chaumian mixes in the future (which are immune to metadata/traffic analysis), but they are unlikely to be complete for our first public release.
No one external to the company. The Orchid protocol is in active research and development at the moment, and is not ready for auditing.
Because bandwidth providers receive payment for their services, we expect to have more relays and proxies on our network, and so higher security and performance than competing systems (Tor, I2P, etc.) We in turn expect those properties to be exciting to consumers.
We will continue to work on the core technology until we have a solution which we can prove is uncensorable and anonymous. Once that happens, we will add features based on community demand.
The token is an ERC20-compatible token, with additional features supporting extremely low transaction costs.
For more information on this, see our discussion of payments in the Payments Section of our whitepaper.
Orchid relays and proxies can be viewed as just-in-time purchased VPNs chained together. Unlike traditional VPNs, Orchid proxies and relays do not know the identity of their customers, nor do the know the IP address their customers are using.
We are working on techniques involving "traffic steganography" that will make the the traffic used by Orchid look like "normal" internet traffic (such as web requests and video calls). There are also existing simpler techniques such as "domain fronting", where you send your traffic to a large company such as Amazon--one which uses a CDN to efficiently route traffic--and cause their CDN to forward your traffic to your servers; this has been used successfully against the Great Firewall of China in the past.
Of course, we also need to hide the list of destination servers, as otherwise these could be collected by the adversary and blocked outright. Our current solution to this involves cycling through large numbers of random IP addresses on various hosting solutions, which we believe will force anyone trying to block our traffic to end up blocking large areas of the internet--such as every server being hosted on Amazon Web Services--which would cause a serious problem for Chinese business people, deeply affecting commerce, as well as quality of life for the average Chinese citizen.
For more information on this, see our discussion of Firewall Circumvention Features in our whitepaper.
We are not directly concerned with the legality of utilizing this protocol in China. In fact, if we are successful, we expect them to ban it. Actually stopping usage in China is a different matter entirely.
One way will be via word of mouth. We expect dissident communities globally to become excited by our work. Another way will be via social media and commentary. Other, more traditional methods (such as advertising) may also be used.
Yes. Two-thirds of all internet users live in countries where criticism of their government, military or ruling family is subject to strict censorship. Even in countries where the Internet isn’t censored, Internet Service Providers collect your data and sell it. Surveillance is increasingly becoming a sensitive issue for Internet users in every country.
For those users uninterested in Internet freedoms, we also provide an economic incentive for participation; using the Orchid protocol, anyone with an Internet connection can earn tokens by sharing their excess bandwidth.