Seminar on Freenet

Ram Pothuraju



Networked computer systems are rapidly growing in importance as the medium of choice for the storage and exchange of information. However, current systems afford little privacy to their users, and typically store any given data item in only one or a few fixed places, creating a central point of failure. Because of a continued desire among individuals to protect the privacy of their authorship or readership of various types of sensitive information, and the undesirability of central points of failure which can be attacked by opponents wishing to remove data from the system or simply overloaded by too much interest, systems offering greater security and reliability are needed.Freenet is being developed as a distributed information storage and retrieval system designed to address these concerns of privacy and availability.
Description of Freenet

Freenet is implemented as an adaptive peer-to-peer network of nodes that query one another to store and retrieve data files, which are named by location-independent keys. Each node maintains its own local datastore which it makes available to the network for reading and writing, as well as a dynamic routing table containing addresses of other nodes and the keys that they are thought to hold. It is intended that most users of the system will run nodes, both to provide security guarantees against inadvertently using a hostile foreign node and to increase the storage capacity available to the network as a whole. The system can be regarded as a cooperative distributed filesystem incorporating location independence and transparent lazy replication.

Freenet enables users to share unused disk space being directly useful to users themselves, acting as an extension to there own hard drives. The basic model is that requests for keys are passed along from node to node through a chain of proxy requests in which each node makes a local decision about where to send the request next, in the style of IP (Internet Protocol) routing.

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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