[tor-talk] Can NAT traversal be Tor's killer feature?

Helder Ribeiro helder at discor.de
Fri Jul 11 00:06:47 UTC 2014

tl;dr: how about a virtual global flat LAN that maps static IPs to
onion addresses?

We all know the story. Random feature gets unintentionally picked up
as the main reason for buying/using a certain product, despite the
creator's intention being different or more general. (PC:
spreadsheets; Internet: porn; smartphones: messaging.)

Exhibit 1: Ricochet IM (https://ricochet.im) uses onion addresses
(each client runs a hidden service) as a sort of *static anonymous IP
address* and, because it's static, it's the user's identity too, in a
p2p/serverless chat app. It's dead simple, works like a charm behind
the firewall at work, and protects metadata, which no other chat
app/protocol I know does.

Exhibit 2: OnionShare (https://onionshare.org/) does the same for file
sharing, and it's actually a much *easier* user experience to send
large files this way than any other. Why? "Static anomyous IP" (onion
address) and NAT traversal because all hidden services work by making
*outgoing* connections to Tor relays and don't need any open ports.

Those are two great apps that, unlike Tor Browser (which I love very
much, but hear me out), *improve* the user experience, through Tor, in
comparison with the mainstream (OnionShare even more so). The user
might not even care about security or anonymity, it's just a better
experience, period.

In this case, you don't have to convince people to make sacrifices in
the name of privacy, you just have to show them something they want.

That's when natural demands kicks in and suddenly you're not pushing
water uphill anymore, you've changed the landscape and it flows in the
direction you want. Like when Tesla made electric cars that people buy
*despite* being electric, not because of it.

As good as Ricochet and OnionShare are, they still had to go through
the trouble of integrating hidden services themselves.

If there is a virtual network interface that transparently maps static
IPs to onion addresses, all sorts of things could benefit from the
backward compatibility (old games, IP-based voip, screensharing,
real-time collaborative writing, etc.) and new ones could be built a
*lot* more easily.

[ZeroTierOne (http://redecentralize.org/interviews/2013/07/30/02-adam-zerotierone.html)
does this, but doesn't worry about privacy.]

Of course massive use would probably crush the current network, but
uptake would be gradual, and I imagine demand has a greater power to
drive capacity than the other way around.

The only thing better than serving the privacy-conscious is serving
privacy to those who don't even know they want it.

I'm nowhere near an expert and I could be just talking out of my ass,
so please let me know if this is completely stupid and would never
work. Thanks!


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