Making sense of all the other "anonymous network" beyond Tor, like I2P, Hyphanet etc

I think the Privacyguides website only talks about Tor and VPNs. I would like to know more about other type of “Tor-like” networks and similar technologies. Some of this might be relevant for the website, but most probably not.

I would like to know what the following technologies offer:

  • Anonymously accessing the clearnet?
  • Circumventing censorship (e.g. network blocks, national firewalls)?
  • Access to darknet sites? (like .onion or.i2p)
  • Hosting websites and files in a censorship-resistant way?
  • Possible legal issues if other users are accessing/sharing illegal materials (e.g. when hosting a Tor exit nodes)

Some of these networks/technologies I have heard of:

  • Tor: the most obvious one, your connection is routed through 3 random servers, giving you anonymous clearnet access and also for accessing darknet sites (.onion). Snowflake is a browser extension that aims to give Tor access to people in countries where the Tor servers are blocked.
  • I2P: seems to be similar but “peer to peer” and only focusing on the darknet (.i2p), no clearnet access (?)
  • Hyphanet (formerly Freenet): another peer to peer darknet, claims to be uncensorable because every user will be hosting small bits of data of others, though this is encrypted and split into pieces so you don’t suddenly have someone’s CP downloaded to your computer
  • Freenet 2023 (formerly Locutus): ?
  • Zeronet: ?
  • Lokinet: ?
  • IPFS: inspired by Bittorrent and can be used for hosting files that can’t just be deleted/censored, it’s supported in Brave and Opera, don’t think it is anonymous unless you combine it with e.g. Tor
  • Shadowsocks: seems to be some kind of VPN specifically made to circumvent network blocks such as the Chinese great firewall
  • Yggdrasil Network: ?
  • Psiphone: ?
  • Normal VPN: should not assumed to be anonymous despite marketing claims (just “shifting trust” from your ISP to them), also VPN connections can be easily blocked by a network administrator
1 Like

Would also like to know more, but i believe the main reason of only considering them, is that they are the best thing, and presenting “lower choices” should not be presented, except in specific exceptions (Example : Android category).
The Tor network as been the most mature tested (Not really just the age, I think Freenet might be older. Just in terms of active usage) and do perform well despite the continuous attacks to de-anonimize their users.
I do love IPFS however, and while i think it doesn’t have any specific huge privacy advantage, I still do want if it cause any privacy breakage by how it work.

1 Like