Jason J. Gullickson

Jason J. Gullickson

Generic Ephemeral Application Channels

I was reading these “principles” from some law that among other things is freaking-out the privacy/encryption folks and it made me realize just how useful a general-purpose ephemeral discovery/relay service could be.


What got me there is thinking about how these shenanigans (as I understand them) are mostly enforceable only against companies that store data for the people who are communicating. This is opposed to say systems where two hosts communicate directly, in which it doesn’t have any real teeth.

But as you know it’s hard or impossible to do that kind of communication across the Internet due to NAT/firewalls/etc.

This isn’t the first time we’ve discussed this, and it got me thinking that if there’s some sort of standard for on-demand rendezvous points where two hosts could find eachother and then either connect directly (or if that’s not possible, relay data through a proxy it would be useful for all sorts of applications.

This assumes that the relay is reachable from anywhere, and that it only channels data and never stores anything, which requires deliberate effort.

I know of application-specific implementations of such things like TURN/STUN in telephony, or Syncthing relay servers but I’m not aware of anything more generic. These also tend to entangle encryption/etc. into their design and I think that it would be better to leave that to the client because it reduces overhead and in any secure communications system you’re going to have to encrypt/decrypt at the endpoints anyway.

Im going to do some research to see if something like this already exists. If it doesn’t, or if what I find doesn’t meet my requirements, I’m going to experiment with designing & building such a thing.