Freenet – the darknet is coming
Freenet is free software which lets you anonymously share files, browse and publish “freesites” (web sites accessible only through Freenet) and chat on forums, without fear of censorship. Freenet is decentralised to make it less vulnerable to attack, and if used in “darknet” mode, where users only connect to their friends, is very difficult to detect. Their tag-line goes something like this;
I worry about my child and the Internet all the time, even though she’s too young to have logged on yet. Here’s what I worry about. I worry that 10 or 15 years from now, she will come to me and say ‘Daddy, where were you when they took freedom of the press away from the Internet?'”Mike Godwin, Electronic Frontier Foundation
Now of course freedom of the press is certainly something Freenet could help with, however it seems to have many other potential applications, many of which are somewhat less benevolent. The ability to distribute copyrighted music, videos, software etc immediately spring to mind.
I think what they’re getting at is people in ‘less free’ countries (I think China is mentioned in the documentation!) can use this software to communicate surreptitiously with the outside world, other free thinkers, freedom fighters and so forth, without landing themselves behind bars or tied to a post.
Maybe what’s less obvious is a similar potential to apply in other countries. (like the UK!). If you wanted to start a revolution for example, in this day and age, surveillance being what it is, trying to organise anything on any sort of scale is almost impossible without detection – unless of course the use of very difficult to detect and trace ‘dark networks’ becomes prevalent.
Not to mention lesser (and dare I say more likely) applications where people are able to publish websites that talk about racism, immigration, religious terrorism, and other politically correct / taboo subjects, without special interest groups threatening to burn one’s house down.
So, Freenet, friend or Foe?
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