The new system called "Alibi Routing" offers advantages over existing systems as it is immediately deployable and does not require knowledge of the internet's routing hardware or policies.

Recent events such as censorship of internet traffic, suspicious "boomerang routing" where data leaves a region only to come back again, and monitoring of users' data have alerted the researchers.

"We became increasingly interested in this notion of empowering users to have more control over what happens with their data," said project lead Dave Levin, assistant research scientist at University of Maryland in a statement.

Information transmitted over the internet such as website requests or email content is broken into packets and sent through a series of routers on the way to its destination. However, users have very little control over what parts of the world these packets traverse.

"Alibi Routing" works by searching a peer-to-peer network to locate "peers" - other users running the alibi routing software - that can relay a user's packets to its ultimate destination while avoiding specified forbidden regions.