This is an attempt to describe Freenet, an adaptive peer-to-peer network application that permits the publication, replication, and retrieval of data while protecting the anonymity of both authors and readers. Freenet operates as a network of identical nodes that collectively pool their storage space to store data files and cooperate to route requests to the most likely physical location of data. No broadcast search or centralized location index is employed. Files are referred to in a location-independent manner, and are dynamically replicated in locations near requestors and deleted from locations where there is no interest. It is infeasible to discover the true origin or destination of a file passing through the network and difficult for a node operator to determine or be held responsible for the actual physical contents of his own node.
Freenet is currently being developed as a free software project on http://sourceforge.net
, and a preliminary implementation can be downloaded from http://www.freenetproject.org
. It grew out of work originally done by the first author at the University of EdinburghWouldn’t Freenet help spread kiddy porn, terrorism etc.?
We have no doubt that Freenet will be used in that way, just as the World Wide Web is currently being used in that way. While we may not like these things, still we are creating a system permitting it, as these losses arrive along with a greater good.That greater good is the destruction of censorship. Before the Internet, censorship was just accepted. Indeed, in some ways, it was a requirement, such as when a book publisher could only agree to publish so many books, so they were more likely to go with a book expressing popular views then one that wasn't. With the arrival of the Internet, that is no longer necessary. But many are comfortable simply extending the pre-internet-era intellectual property system onto the internet, in spite of the shift the world's information environment has undergone over the past century. The network judges information based on popularity. If humanity is very interested in pornography, then pornography will be a big part of the Freenet.Eventually it comes down to what you think is more important: Free Speech or catching immoral activities. The Freenet developers say Free Speech is more important. This quote from Benjamin Franklin might be in order:
“Those who would give up liberty in the interest of security deserve, and will have, neither.”
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