Smorgasbord - Politics, Lisp, Rails, Fencing, etc.

My musings on assortment of things ranging from politics, computer technology and programming to sports.

Saturday, February 18, 2006


On this day:

Freedom Net

Today morning I saw an article in the slashdot asking whether it is possible to have a back-boneless Internet, without any sort of governmental control, completely free and democratic.

My first reaction was to think that indeed such an Internet exists, and it is called Free Network Project. Freenet allows one to access the contents of Internet in a completely secure manner, and it is practically impossible for anyone to find out who is doing what. Also, one can publish whatever they feel like on Freenet and again no one has any way of knowing who was the original publisher. It is based on peer-to-peer technology, the users contribute to the network by giving bandwidth and a portion of their hard drive, but unlike normal peer to peer softwares they don't control what is stored on their computer. It is sort of an Internet inside Internet.

Whenever someone wants to publish something the data is encrypted and stored and replicated in bits and pieces on several computers. In other words every machine which connects to Freenet is a web server. Various factors like the newness and popularity decide the amount of replication. Also, because the data is encrypted the user of the computer where it is stored cannot decipher and find out what he is storing. Similarly, while retrieving something to view either from Freenet or the Internet, the request instead of going directly from one computer is routed through many nodes making it extremely hard to determine the requester of information and its content.

But the problems which plague this network are: one it is extremely slow, this is due to the overhead of encryption and the distributed nature of almost every operation. The second problem with this network is that because of its anonymous nature most of the contents found on it are child pornography and other such objectionable materials which regular web-hosts will not carry.

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