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FreeNet's Ian Clarke Answers Privacy Questions

Roblimo posted more than 14 years ago | from the who-is-that-masked-man-anyway? dept.

The Internet 218

On April 5th you asked Ian Clarke of FreeNet many questions about this new project, which is designed to permit almost totally anonymous Internet posting of almost any kind of material. Here are his answers.

Who is liable?
(Score:5, Interesting)
by tcd004

You said that this: "allows information to be published and read without fear of censorship because individual documents cannot be traced to their source..."

I'm all for an open forum for free speech, but this seems almost reckless. In most venues of speech, accountability for someone's words is fundamental. The Internet has opened up the possiblity of free speech without accountability to a small degree, and look at what has happened. Do you fear any legal repercussions to your group for creating this forum based on this fact?

Ian:

Thanks for your question tcd004. The problem is that it is sometimes impossible to have free speech unless it can be delivered anonymously, since the threat of retribution can be a very effective deterrent against people stating their opinions. I would even go so far as to say that a forum which forced people to identify themselves was not permitting true free speech (This is why Slashdot allows "Anonymous Cowards" to have their say). I should further point out that there is no reason that people cannot digitally sign information they place in Freenet to indicate that they are the authors of a piece of information, but we don't force people to do that. Someone could even build up an anonymous reputation by signing all of their work with the same private key.

My personal feeling is that liable, and liable law, assumes that people will believe everything they read. This might, to an extent, be true in this time of centralized media, but my hope is that systems like Freenet (and indeed SlashDot) will encourage people to make judgments about the reliability of information themselves rather than relying on a corruptible centralized source.

Why the name FreeNet?
(Score:4, Insightful)
by K8Fan

Maybe I'm just showing my age, but to me a "FreeNet" is a local free Picospan/shell account. Maybe it's a bad idea to take the name of an existing and quite venerable free service?

Here is part of the Detroit Freenet FAQ:

* What is a Free-Net? A Free-Net is a free, public-access community computer system. Free-Nets can serve populations of any size, from large metropolitan areas to small cities and towns. They offer a wide spectrum of on-line information services to the public, including community and government databases and worldwide electronic messaging. They don't charge for their services, so everything on them is free. Free-Nets also have an interactive aspect, in that users can dialogue with information providers. While there are many Free-Nets around the world, each Free-Net is tailored to meet the needs of the local community, so no two Free-Nets are identical.

Seems like the existing Freenet is already a very good and useful thing, and it really doesn't need the confusion.

Ian:

Basically our experience is that while other systems and projects have used the term "Freenet" in the past, for the most part it had fallen out of common usage (if you don't believe me just take a look at the current contents of alt.freenet - which is primarily spam). We believe that since we are developing a "Free Network", the abbreviation of "Freenet" is too good not to use, and since it isn't really in common-usage anywhere else right now, we have resurrected it.

Poisoning the waters
(Score:5, Interesting)
by Mike Schiraldi

What protection is there against someone poisoning the system with malicious data? For example, let's say MPAASoftRIAAOL Corp. sets up a system of computers all over the place with wildly different IPs, and they feed either random or specially crafted bogus data into the system.

This is sort of analogous to renaming Barry_Manilow.mp3 to DaveMatthewsBand.mp3 and putting it on Napster. How do we prevent it? Some sort of decentralized, everyone-is-created-equal moderation system?

Ian:

You raise an interesting point, and one which has created much discussion on the mailing list since these "cancer" attacks are probably the most difficult to defend against in any system, particularly if it is decentralized like Freenet. Right now, the way Freenet works limits the damage that can be done with such a node, but in the future we plan to implement mechanisms which will make such an attack even less effective. Basically Freenet avoids becoming dependent on any particular node since requests will be spread almost equally among all Freenet nodes (by the nature of the dynamic caching and mirroring). This means that even if 0.1% of the total number of Freenet nodes are corrupted, at most about 0.1-0.4% of requests will be affected by it. Right now whenever someone requests some data in Freenet, in a sense they are voting for it, and all of the nodes which were involved in retrieving it. This is less than ideal since you don't actually know what you will get until it is too late (much like voting in the real world!). We plan to implement a mechanism to address this, where you can "undo" your vote if you aren't happy with the result, and thus Freenet gets a much more accurate idea of the quality of different types of information, and the quality of the nodes used to retrieve it. This will mean that a malicious node of the type you describe will eventually be ignored by the rest of Freenet, so hopefully the threat you describe won't be an issue when we release Freenet 1.0.

Bandwidth and Piracy
(Score:5, Insightful)
by Valdrax

In your own FAQ, you pretty much sidestep the entire issue that FreeNet would become a humongous "warez" distribution system by saying that it's merely a more efficient means of doing what others have been doing before. Ignoring the seeming subtle endorsement of piracy through the system, I'll raise an important question for adminstrators of FreeNet nodes.

In your FAQ, you say that it is very hard for FreeNet node admins to know what is on their site. With the inevitable proliferation of "warez" on the site, how will the system avoid getting bogged down with hundreds of illegal copies of popular pieces of software?

For example, when Diablo 2 finally comes out in the stores, what would prevent servers from being overloaded with:

/software/games/Diablo2.iso
/software/games/RPGs/Diablo2.iso
/software/games/rpg/Diablo2.iso
/warez/l337gam3z/Diablo2.iso
/fr33gam3z/war3z/rpg/diabloII.crack.iso
/mywarez/ObfuscatedDistributionKey/Diablo2.image ...etc.?

You could literally have hundreds of 650 Mb images of games floating around jamming up everyone's nodes. With the lack of searchability, no one would know what keys hook into what files. Without this knowledge, warez people might keep uploading copies to different keys, thus flooding the system. In essence, does not the lack of protection against piracy and the seemingly intentional goal of keeping admins from controlling their system threaten to bring down the entire network under the burden of warez and junk?

Ian:

The simple answer is that copyright is economic censorship (ie. restricting the free distribution of information for economic reasons), and thus Freenet will make it difficult or impossible to enforce copyright. As for whether Freenet will be "overloaded" with Warez junk, well current methods of distributing Warez work fine already, but as for Freenet - the system will contain whatever information people request. If people request Warez, then there will be Warez on Freenet, if they request pornography, then there will be pornography on Freenet, and if they request political documents then there will be political documents on Freenet. Freenet makes no distinction, and if it did it could not claim to permit true freedom of information. If you want to know more about why we just might be able to live without copyright take a look at our philosophy page.

Regarding your comment about large files clogging up Freenet, right now, inserting a huge file into Freenet probably won't work, since a node won't store a file which exceeds its disk-cache limit. We also plan to make large files need to justify themselves in-terms of the number of hits they receive, so that they don't displace loads of smaller files.

Why such bad press, what is being done to fix it?
(Score:5, Insightful)
by griffjon

It's pretty scary when Wired slams you with the headline, "Alternative Net Protects Pirates", which contained in the story gems such as:

"Eric Scheirer, a music technology researcher at MIT's Media Lab, said Freenet is an interesting experiment, but said it would likely be used only by a small community of pirates and "privacy nuts."

And, failing Monday's piece in the Nando Times , that's actually been the best article so far. The New Scientist is running "out of control: The Internet is about to get even harder to police" in their current issue, and ABCNews.com did a one-paragraph style summary of this article, with the lead of "An Internet system designed to guarantee anonymous free speech on the Web could be used by child pornographers and terrorists, according to New Scientist magazine," which then proceeds to all but call you and the other programmers pedophiles in a grammatical burp.

My question is, if this is to be successful (which I for one am all in favor of, I'm in close contact with Brandon and Steven, two of the FreeNet programmers, and am very much in support of the existence of this), FreeNet can't come off as a tool for criminals and miscreants, lest you attract more attention than you'd like from the Fed-types. Now, you may say that because it's open-source and already available, etc., that the Feds can't put it down, but if it is branded as an evil tool for child pornographers (like it is currently), it will never gain the popularity and user-base needed to make it sufficiently robust against machine removals.

To get something called a tool for privacy nuts by Wired is pretty bad--and the rest of the press has been worse; is there any plan to get this project out of the gutter?

Ian:

Well, we actually have had more good press than you suggest, the recent Wall Street Journal article was very positive, as was an early Brave GNU World article (see our publicity page for links). As for the bad press, well I think whenever you do something really new you are always going to encounter resistance. I think most of these journalists were trying to stir up some controversy, which is what journalists do. Interestingly many of these journalists have explained that they are often given a brief by their editors before they have even spoken to me on what tone the article will have. You rapidly develop a thick skin when you are involved in this kind of project, although for the most part I have been reasonably happy with the press coverage we have received.

Re: Why such bad press, what is being done to fix it
(Score:5, Interesting)
by Eric_Scheirer

"Eric Scheirer, a music technology researcher at MIT's Media Lab, said Freenet is an interesting experiment, but said it would likely be used only by a small community of pirates and 'privacy nuts.'"

I stand by my quote in that article, although naturally it's a little short on context. Let me make clear that I am in favor of privacy, security, and anonymity when appropriate, and I despise the current attempts to make the WWW more corporate-controlled via both code and law. I don't think there's anything wrong with Freenet, I just don't think it will ever take off in the mainstream.

The fact is that most of the things that most people like to use the WWW for--such as e-commerce and Slashdot--cannot be built on Freenet, since it has no cookies and no memory. Given this, I can't see anything happening with Freenet except that it becomes a huge storehouse for illegal porn, pirated MP3s and 3l33t w8r3z.

It's a shame, because the potential political benefits that it raises, by allowing dissident speech in repressive countries, is great.

I guess my question for the Freenet developers would be: I am not a pirate, a privacy nut, a political dissident, or someone trying to spread illegal trade secrets. What does Freenet offer me? And are these benefits broad enough to a broad enough segment of the world population to create the momentum needed for Freenet to work sociologically as well as technically?

-- Eric Scheirer
MIT Media Laboratory

Ian:

Brandon (one of the other core Freenet developers) did e-mail you twice to answer the comments you made in Wired, he still awaits your response on the matter. Ok, what does Freenet offer someone who doesn't care about anonymity? One point that many people miss is that it is actually a very efficient way to distribute information due to its dynamic caching and dynamic mirroring. Freenet will move information to where it is in-demand, and will duplicate popular information automatically so that you should never encounter "The SlashDot Effect" with Freenet. In other words, your ability to publish information is no longer limited to the Bandwidth you can pay for. Because of this it should actually be a better way to distribute information than, say, the WWW or Usenet, even ignoring the fact that the information can't be censored. TheCarp mentions this below.

Wireless Freenet
(Score:4, Interesting)
by john187

I think Freenet would dovetail nicely with wireless network technology. I system of Freenet servers 1-2 km apart could blanket metropolitan areas and eliminate dependency on ISP's for network service.

What are your thoughts on this? Are any hardware people interested in looking at this problem? Building some prototypes?

Ian:

I agree completely, we have actually kept the protocol packet-based for just this sort of reason. I think Freenet would be perfect for a distribute decentralized radio network, and it would be a very exciting project.

Reversed priorities?
(Score:5, Insightful)
by mattr

If files live longer the more they are thrashed, will this not just breed thrasher bots and crowd out data from clients with less connectivity? How about a voting system for one or more directories which does not add files easily but they are there for good. If it is that good a resource it deserves a champion to protect it.

Also, I take it you are comfortable with already having divulged the identities of the entire first wave of sysadmins of FreeNet nodes? Seems like your most vulnerable time is now.

I've long considered the value of a peer to peer system for countries underdeveloped in the areas of infrastructure and rights. Unfortunately it seems that social engineering is steadily on the side of repression. Wouldn't the best way to get FreeNet into such environments be to make it a source of economic strength? In other words, your growth metric might look much better if you include authorship, copyright, and microcashpayment management. I can't see the Declaration of Independence sticking in the current system for long.. but it is in both a good library and a good bookstore.

Basically you have built a distribution system which in its optimal configuration has no delivery time since you already have the commodity on your hard drive... make it work for business as well and it may reduce prices and take on a life of its own.

Ian:

Well there is certainly more than one question here!

Firstly, the issue of "thrashing" or flooding Freenet is covered in the FAQ - I refer you to section 4.2. To summarize, the dynamic caching mechanism makes it very difficult to artificially make data more popular (since Freenet will just cache it on a node right beside you, and all of your requests will be soaked up by it).

As for divulging the addresses of the first few people to set-up Freenet nodes (I assume you refer to our "Inform.php" mechanism) that is merely a mechanism to "boot-strap" Freenet for testing purposes. Once Freenet is up and running properly we will have no need for such a mechanism, but it is useful in the early stages (and people have the option to switch it off in the config file if they really care that much). I should make it clear that Freenet now is still at an early stage of development. The project is lucky to have some very talented and hard-working developers, particularly Brandon Wiley and Oskar Sandberg who have really helped turned this from a dream into a reality, but we still have much work to do. Data modification, Content Hashed Keys, local data encryption, the list of ideas which we want to implement before a 1.0 release is long - but this is indicative of the cutting-edge nature of the project.

In terms of making it possible to sell information using Freenet, or a Freenet-like system, I suspect that might be missing the point we are making! Never say never though...

Kiddy porn, rape movies, snuff films.
(Score:5, Interesting)
by Jinker

No matter what zealots tell you, no freedom is absolute. Your freedoms end when they infringe on the rights of others. This includes your freedom of speech.

My thoughts when I first heard about this project were extremely positive for the first five seconds or so. I was going to set up a server, and suggest all my other bandwidth-rich friends do the same. Then I thought about what would be going to and from my server.

Anonymity has its place from time to time, but usually in the cases of an abuse by a higher power against an individual. But in the general case, I feel that freedom of speech entails the responsability of accountability.

If I'm going to say that I hate Virgos, and all Virgos should be locked up and treated as the inhuman beasts that they are, I should have the conviction to do so without a pointy hood over my head.

If I'm going to be distributing porn, I should be able to do it with a clean conscience. If I wanted to post naked pictures on a Web site, I'd be in some way traceable. And if I wasn't identifiable, there at least would be a mechanism in place (an e-mail to my upstream provider) to curb my freedom of speech if I was posting vile material.

The ideal of individual freedom falls apart in the environment of actual individuals who abuse it.

I'm not saying in any way that this should be a legal matter, or that the product should be banned, just that in the case that it turns out like I expect it to (the majority of traffic for illicit files, both violating copyright and basic human decency) I will have no respect, even a measure of contempt for the people that do run the servers. THEY will be the ones I will hold accountable for the 'free speech' being exercised on the network. And if they were to be sued off the net by the RIAA, Church of Scientology and MPAA, I can't say I'll be surprised, or all that upset.

What arguments can you make FOR free, anonymous access to kiddie porn, snuff films and rape/torture erotica? Why should *I*, a server operator, nurture these sorts of activities in an ideal environment?

Ian:

You cannot have free speech without tolerating speech that you personally don't agree with. If you don't want to risk aiding the distribution of "kiddie porn" (which is *already* freely distributed on the Internet anyway), then steer clear of Freenet - it's not for you. On the other hand, if you want to help build a system which will help humanity share information, even though some of that information will be distasteful to you personally, then set up a Freenet node. See our philosophy page for more information on this.

some technical questions.
. (Score:4, Interesting)
by Cuthalion

Once something is put on freenet it cannot be removed. What does this mean? No censorship, but also misinformation stays in the system just as long as correct information, so long as it can 'trick' people into requesting it (by seeming to be relevant, for instance). This can be exploited intentionally to censor (some things are nearly unfindable on search engines because of 'key' collisions - the band 'Reload', for instance), or unintentionally - I write something, post it, and five minutes later learn that I was mistaken. Oh well! People will just have to decide for themselves what is truth. Even if I DO post a retraction, there is no way to verify that a trusted entity (such as the original author) retracted it.

As a medium for sharing artistic works (e.g., music, essays, images) this is not as important, but to carry actual facts, (e.g., hardware specs, controvertial news items, etc.) this seems a major shortcoming. Is there any solution to this problem in place or in progress? I ask because I feel that this is not adequately discussed in the FAQ.

Ian:

As I mention above we are working on improving the way that people can "vote" for the validity of information - I hope that this will address some of the concerns you raise. Having said that, you can't really drownout information on Freenet in the manner you suggest. If you have the key, you can get the data unless it has died out due to never being requested.

The whole area of choosing appropriate keys for the data you wish to insert is a huge, and ripe for further research. For some things, like MP3s, or poems, choosing an appropriate key is pretty easy ("music/mp3/artist/album/track" or "poem/poet/title" for example). It merely requires a standard way to refer to these things - and since it is in everybody's interest to use the same standard, hopefully good standards will emerge quite quickly. Other things are less easy. When people created the Internet, they probably never thought it might be used the way we are using it now - and they didn't need to. Similarly, Freenet is a platform upon which we hope others will build.

Re: Why compete?
(Score:4, Interesting)
by TheCarp

Actually....the Freenet Has a huge technical advantage over http protocols. The thing is... it's not just hard to track down who wrote it (unless they sign their name...it's only anonymous if you want it to be) and where it's stored...

It has cacheing built in. When you request something, it propagates. This means more copies exist. So if a document is REALLY popular, then no one server is bogged down with distributing it.

Imagine some really popular band that believes in mp3 distribution puts out a new mp3. Now everyone 80% of college students go to download it.

WHat happens? After the first few downloads at each college...the local university freenet server will have a copy of the mp3 and will be serving it to that university.

None of the requests for it will be going outside the local university network. Its the basic equivalent of everyone in the world being behind multiple layers of http cacheing proxy, except somewhat better (its built into the protocol)

Ian:

What can I say? Cool - you get it! Just to reiterate though, Freenet is an experiment. It is quite different from projects like Linux and Mozilla, which are essentially open source re-implementations of technology which has already been proven (and, incidentally, I am a big supporter of both of these projects). There aren't really any precedents which we could follow in designing Freenet, certainly nothing that came close to what we wanted to achieve. The difficulty with Freenet is that we can only *really* test it by encouraging people to use it on a reasonably wide scale. There is much further work to be done on Freenet, it is really only at the beginning of its testing phase right now - so please don't expect it to change the world just yet - but please do try it out!

--------------------------

You may also be interested to note that we have released Freenet 0.1beta.

All the best,

- Ian

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Re:It can be summed up [You forgot some] (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1141631)

You forgot the world also contains Judges and people with guns who follow their orders.

FreeNet is about more than freedom of speech. It's about freedom of information transfer and storage too. The Public doesn't want and will not tolerate the existance of such freedom when (not if) it is used for purposes in conflict with their comfort. FreeNet will be shut down as soon as it has been found to be useful.

These people are wasting their time.

I think the only feasible systems have accountability and optional psuedo-anonymity built it, but the identifying information must be obtainable only with a court order and that restriction much be gauranteed by technological methods and law which will send violators of that restriction to jail.

Re:This is dangerous, period. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1141632)

I work in Marketing, and I am well aware of the abuses perpertrated by spammers and junk

...... just a small remark... what are you as a marketing person doing reading 'news for nerds' ?

However, I am also a keen amatuer scholar of the US Constitution, and I wonder about the implications of this technology. If misapplied, it could end up with non-US citizens being able to say whatever they liked, with no fear of retribution. This could include opinions that no democrat could countenance. (I am thinking here primarily of Communism and Atheism, but this 'anonymous posting' technology could be used to promote almost any anti-us agenda).

Not entirely sure if you are just trolling or if this is serious... but lets take it serious...
The word democrat was invented in Greece and not in your USA. The first constitution in Europe predates the USA one by a few hundred years, and besides... having lived in both the USA and Europe I can only come to the conclusion that where you have freedom of speech in your constitution, most of western europe has it in practise not just on paper.
Also. freedom of speech comes with the nice freedom to refrain from reading what you don't like
And... last but not least, this world is 'a bit' bigger then your USA. If you would actually understand anything about that country you live in, and its constitution and history, you would understand that the USA has tried to convince others to get the same political system as them, or at most a slight variation on it. This is all nice since that system happens to work reasonably well, but it doesn't make you any different from those communists and atheists that you seem so afraid off.
Maybe you are just afraid of yourself, of your beliefs being so weakly founded that things which should be easily recognisable as propaganda might convince you? well.. in that case just don't read... but don't determine for other people if they are strong enough.

The problem with this technology is that while Americans are used to freedom of speech, and for the most part use it responsibly (see this very forum for examples) the less developed parts of the world (and I am thinking mainly of Europe here) do not have the tradition of free speech that we Americans do, and so may abuse the privelege this technology has bestowed upon them.

I could comment on this, but actually its so obviously wrong that I don't think I have to explain this.

Missing control and diversity (1)

rho (6063) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141643)

While I like the Freenet's technical capabilities (dynamic caching and mirroring), I dislike their philosophical stance on "free speech", to wit:

The simple answer is that copyright is economic censorship (ie. restricting the free distribution of information for economic reasons), and thus Freenet will make it difficult or impossible to enforce copyright.

This is ridiculous. Copyrights are not economic censorship, unless the copyright holder chooses to use it as such. For example, Philip Greenspun [photo.net] lets web admins use his photos, generally for free, as long as they attribute him. He maintains the copyright. This is economic censorship? No, it's a legally enforceable method of control of somebody's intellectual property. (I know, IP is a dirty word...) Philip might spend hours setting up and taking a shot -- if he wants to retain control of his interpretation of an idea, that's his legal right.

You cannot have free speech without tolerating speech that you personally don't agree with. If you don't want to risk aiding the distribution of "kiddie porn" (which is *already* freely distributed on the Internet anyway), then steer clear of Freenet - it's not for you.

So, in other words, "kiddie porn" is free speech. Really? I didn't know that. Guess ritual rape and mutilation is free speech too, and if done in a pointy hat with candles, it's a religious observance, too.

While I agree with the point that supporting free speech means supporting ideas and thoughts that you may not agree with, not every form of expression falls into free speech. Throwing a punch at someone, even if it's a cracker-ass Grand Wizard of the KKK, is not "expression". It's assault, and your butt will rightly be hauled into jail. Ass-fucking a 10 year old boy is not "expression". It's ass-fucking a 10 year old boy -- a minor, and protected (rightly) by law.

Developing a system whereby administrators (you can't even rightly call them that, since they "administer" nothing) have no control over content, you make a technically competent and interesting system that is *really* uninviting to operate, since your box can be the source of something nefarious (or something you disagree with, and do not wish to support). You are welcome to your ideas, but do *NOT* push them onto me.

A side issue is about the "voting" or "rating" system built into Freenet. I like the idea, but I think it overlooks something. What about tiny, insignificant, but really important things that don't get used much. For example, a HOW-TO on setting up an Amiga 2000 to run NetBSD. Not many A2000s out there, nobody runs NetBSD anyway... what's this node about Windows 2001? Looks neeto...

If unpopular nodes get pushed out, doesn't that run contrary to the "free speech" dictum? Unpopular now means "kill the niggers", but 40 years ago, unpopular meant "I have a dream...". Popularity is a poor substitute for personal decision.

Freenet is a great concept, but it's missing a few important concepts and components. I personally think that an philosophical ideal and a technical solution don't neccessarily mix very well. GNU software might be the rule-proving exception or the theory-smashing evidence. Freenet, however, is mostly concerned with ideology, and is developing a technical solution to promote that ideology at the expense of that self-same ideology.

At least, that's what I think. I'm also a well-known idiot

Re:Missing control and diversity (1)

Yath (6378) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141644)

You cannot have free speech without tolerating speech that you personally don't agree with. If you don't want to risk aiding the distribution of "kiddie porn" (which is *already* freely distributed on the Internet anyway), then steer clear of Freenet - it's not for you.
So, in other words, "kiddie porn" is free speech.
This is a very wretched misparaphrase. Ian seems to be implying the exact opposite. His point is not that kiddie porn ought to be protected from censorship, but that Freenet will do so, due to its technical nature.

Re:This is dangerous, period. (OT) (1)

Cederic (9623) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141647)

I think I must be responding to a troll here.

I am astounded at the arrogance and ignorance displayed by DumbMarketingGuy in his post! Some main points:

- Europeans are used to a certain degree of freedom of speech. The UK has strong libel laws, but if you can't be proven a liar then you can say pretty much what you like. The press has a lot of freedom, public rally's (rallies?) are legal, etc.

- How exactly can you abuse freedom of speech? Making statements of hate? Personal abuse? Please, provide an example, and make damn sure I can't show you American examples of it (hey, I'm not ragging on Americans, I am merely asking him to prove free speech can be abused, and that Americans are not involved in that particular abuse)

- less developed in Europe? I'm flabbergasted.

- this 'anonymous posting' technology could be used to promote almost any anti-us agenda So it could. It could be used to promote any agenda. What's your point? Why should a technology be pro-American. Why shouldn't a technology be available that is 'Anti-oppressive regime' - think how such a tool would benefit people in totalitarian states. (No, I'm not saying America is an oppressive regime. Don't make that insinuation.)

In short, your sheltered naive view of the world bemuses me.

~Cederic (using the freedom of speech he seems to have forgotten to abuse, even though he's had it all along and yet - amazingly - isn't American)

Re:See this thread??? (1)

baglunch (11210) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141648)

At post number 35, I don't think that you've got a reasonable census for making such a statement. You should have waited another half hour or two before posting what you'd already decided to say.

Re:DOS attacks on Freenet (1)

zCyl (14362) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141651)

> (1) Plain-vanilla: rapidly dump (and continue dumping) a lot of random-noise content
> into Freenet from multiple launch points (DDOS). Soon enough the random noise will crowd
> out the real information.

If I understand his description of the protocol correctly, then no. Who is going to search for random noise? It's about as likely as typing "nonrelativistic quantum mechanics" into google.com and coming up with some a website that posts random numbers.

> (2) Targeted: let's say there is a Freenet file, e.g. '/us/politics/ClintonBlowsGoats'
> that you want to suppress. Just make your own file with the same net and inject it
> into Freenet. Again, use multiple launch points and repeat injection at will.
> Again, the bogus file will crowd out the "real" file very quickly.

Again, if I understand his description of the protocol correctly, no. If people have been accessing the real /us/politics/ClintonBlowsGoats (which I find likely... the accessing that is), then it will accumulate votes. So if J. Random Jerk inserts a bunch of dummy files with the same name, they would come up later in the search than the established copy that already has all the positive votes.

All in all, it sounds like a very well thought-out protocol to me, which is impressive for a product so early in its developmental stage. Even napster hasn't quite gotten to this point, we still can't access unknown artists very effectively on napster, which is something I would love to do if I could.

Re:DOS attacks on Freenet (1)

Kaa (21510) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141654)

Pissing people off is not a goal within itself. The fact is that those people who would be pissed off by Freenet are those who do not want any Freedom in Cyberspace - and that are already threatening it on the web.

I understand that. I highly doubt that the reason for Freenet is being able to publish the length of somebody's dick and then go "Na-na, nana na". I like the idea of Freenet. But consider real-life consequences.

What kind of information will find itself gravitating towards Freenet? If I want to publicize my collection of rubber chicken, I can get myself a page at Geocities or something like it. If I am serious about it, I'll spend $9.95 and get myself a "real" site with domain name, etc. But if my information is dangerous, illegal, likely to lead to me finding a horse's head in my bedroom -- why, I'll put it on Freenet.

I understand that Freenet doesn't specifically aim to piss people off. However, its existence and its information will piss off people, and, more important, corporations and governments. That's certainly not a good reason to stop developing Freenet. But it is a good reason not to be surprised when somebody decided to take active measures against Freenet.

Kaa

Re:True Freedom (1)

Kaa (21510) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141656)

Could you name me one way in which a person could totally shut down the concept of freenet. Assuming it gets off the ground to the extent you describe how would you be able to actually shut it down.

Easy as pie: "Shutting Down Freenet for Dummies"

Step 1: Make lotsa noise about terrorists, porn, threats to the existence of humanity, and protection of children.

Step 2: US Congress passes a law making it illegal to operate and/or use a Freenet server.

Step 3: FBI sets up some sting Freenet servers and stages several very public hangings of guilty parties.

Step 4: Repeat steps 2 and 3 for all Western Countries and Japan (making an international treaty might help here)

End result: some Freenet nodes survive in places like Zaire and Bangladesh, but (a) the bandwidth to them is limited; (b) nobody knows about them anyway. Using Freenet becomes like trying to buy a grenade launcher: certainly doable, in some parts of the world much easier than in others, especially if you know the right people, but waaaaay beyond the capabilities of an average person/geek/whatever.

Kaa

Re:DOS attacks on Freenet (1)

Kaa (21510) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141659)

Oh no not "untrusted sources". Bad not getting all that authentication.

Ahem. And the meaning of this is?

Eventually that [random-noise] information will not exist because it will not be avaible because no one in their right mind would requst random noise.

Eventually (aka "in the long term") is not important here. Freenet is designed on a FIFO overflow principle. If a node can hold 10Gb of data and I pump 10Gb of garbage into it, the node will contain only garbage. The useful information in that node is gone -- to reappear in this node it has to be reinjected or it has to propagate itself from the rest of the network. Repeat daily (hourly), attack multiple nodes simultaneously -- there IS a problem.

A read over the mailing list freenet-dev will show you that in fact these things are being addressed.

Ah, you see, sport, this is the problem. I don't believe these kinds of problems can be solved within the framework of Freenet. The point of Freenet is that it accepts information from all comers, without either trying to check who they are, or checking what do they post. Given this, the vulnerability is built-in at the ground level.

And, BTW, I usually read "is being addressed" as "we know about the problem, but we don't have a clue as what to do about it. When we think of something, we'll let you know".

There is no historic prcedent for information dumping and the like (I may be wrong). References?

Historic precedent? HISTORIC PRECEDENT? [boggles again, then collapses to the floor laughing] Since when to do thing on the 'net you need historic precedent? Besides, Freenet itself is what, version 0.1beta?

The server is supposed to prevent you injecting something with the same key.

But that just makes the matter worse. This means you can tie up keys that can be used against you. Let's say I want to find out how many bowling balls can Clinton suck through a garden hose. I go to Freenet and find keys /us/politics/ClintonSucks, /us/politics/ClintonSucksBowlingBalls, etc. etc. And all of them are press releases from the White House!

(you want a historic precedent? Didn't Bush buy domains like "bushsucks.com"?)

This will eventually be addressed in it's full form.

That sounds pathetic. In any case, I still believe the vulnerability is in the concept itself.

What I think is that despite the possibility for random information good information will always win in the end.

No, no. Not random. I am talking active hostile information warfare. The point of Freenet is to publish information that makes certain people, corporations and government very, very unhappy. Put 2 and 2 together yourself.

Kaa

Re:DOS attacks on Freenet (1)

Kaa (21510) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141660)

[flooding attacks] I do believe that we are better off in this department then any other equivalent system.

Two observations. First, you are more vulnerable because you are committed to accepting information from anybody. For point-of-existence reasons you cannot authenticate.

Second, consider your threat model. A lot of people are saying "well, that's not worse than the 'net in general". I don't think that's going to be good enough. There are two cruicial differences. The first one is scale. If Freenet becomes huge, a lot of its DOS problems will become easier. On the other hand, if it remains (relatively) small, DOSing it will not be hard. The second difference (as I pointed out in another post) is that Freenet is designed to make some people, corporations and government very unhappy. In a sense, one measure of success will be something like AOL trying to shut Freenet down.

There is nobody (apart from some script kiddies, but I already said 'nobody') who is really interested in shutting down large parts of the 'net. There are going to be powerful entities who will be really interested in shutting down or degrading Freenet.

Regarding the non-uniqueness of keys, that can be solved, at the loss of some convenience.

It ain't that easy. Making unique tags for each chunk of info is simple. But consider a different problem: how do I find the information I need? Crypto hashes of contents do not help at all. Again, to repeat another post, if I want to find out how many bowling balls can Clinton suck through a garden hose, and all keys like /us/politics/ClintonSucks, ../ClintonSucksBowlingBalls, etc. are press releases from White House, how do I get my information?

But nothing I have seen so far has convinced me, as pessimistic as I am, that it _won't_ work,

Oh, it'll work -- for some time. The real question is robustness. Consider that you are likely to find yourself on the front lines of active information warfare. In this case the relevant question is not "does it work?", but rather "how quickly/easily can it be killed?".

Kaa

Re:DOS attacks on Freenet (1)

Kaa (21510) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141661)

Freenet is more robust than most systems since it doesn't make much difference if you bring down a small number of Freenet nodes

I am not talking about "standard" 'net DOS (e.g. smurf attacks). I am talking denial-of-service through flooding Freenet with bogus/malicious information.

Random data will only displace other data in Freenet if people actually request it

First, if I give my garbage data attactive keys, people will request it.

Second, I was under the impression that newer data will push out older data (on a FIFO overflow basis). In this case garbage data will actually displace good data just because it's newer (and, trust me, I can genearate a great deal of new garbage)


Kaa

Does "common carrier" apply? (1)

FascDot Killed My Pr (24021) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141664)

FreeNet nodes aren't just pipes. They actually store data. That's a little different.
--

Re:Forcing a cache to be loaded is called framing (1)

FascDot Killed My Pr (24021) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141665)

My second two scenarios aren't framing anyone.
--

Re:True Freedom (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141667)

> Once enough John Q. Public's get outraged by the stuff flying around Freenet, our beloved saviors in > Congress will rally to the cause and take action.

And they'll huff and puff and blow away all the servers. Then everyone outside our country will laugh at the silly americans and maybe remind us that we can still use the client to access their servers.

My one saving thought is that no matter how stupid my country becomes, there will always be someplace 10 miles offshore where I can go and think freely.

Re:True Freedom (1)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141668)

How untracable do you think the internet really is? You do understand how packet routing works, right?

Free Speech needs defending from this threat (1)

Omar Djabji (33756) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141669)



Very observant. You must have been very astute when you studied the constitution.

We MUST keep non-US citizens from voicing their vile opinions. Freedom of speech is one of the best developments of not-so-recent history and we must protect it from non-US citizens and anti-american ideas. If we allow these undesirables to promote thier own religions and ideas, then my own speech will be drowned out and no one will be able to hear me rehash the ideas we have been forcing on the world for the past 100 years.

I shudder to mention the worst case senario, but we could end up with a population that had access to a wide range of ideas and was able to make thier own decisions on the validity of all of them.

Re:See this thread??? (1)

Zurk (37028) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141670)

no no no. the point is being made VERY clearly. Its an attempt to show that freenet can be flooded with crap information using a DDos model of attack. unfortunately it seems to be failing gradually as the moderators "vote" and destroy the trolling posters. this is *exactly* the model freenet needs to survive on.

Re:I just don't see it... (1)

greenrd (47933) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141674)

It's very ironic that your username is Top Shelf. This wouldn't have anything to do with those infamous top shelf publications would it? The ones that people are so keen to buy, you know, anonymously?

There's actually one very good reason why FreeNet is needed, and that has nothing to do with trivial personal reasons. When molecular nanotechnology builds up steam, the big industries of this world (energy, monoagriculture, pharmaceuticals, etc.) are going to see it as an enormous threat to their oligopolies, because it threatens to bring about the decentralization of production (If I have a magic box which produces my basic needs, why should I do this shitty job in a telesales center?). They will try extremely hard to control MNT absolutely, with horrifying consequences if they succeed. They will use fearsome propaganda technologies, even mind control where they can get away with it, and free channels of information will be essential to fight back...

But anyway, that's getting offtopic.

Re:See this thread??? (1)

greenrd (47933) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141675)

What are you blithering about? Slashdot has a moderation system.

Re:It can be summed up.. (1)

greenrd (47933) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141676)

The trouble is, although I basically agree with the idea of FreeNet, I haven't heard a really convincing argument for that. At the moment it still looks like it will be for privacy nuts, geeks and pornographers. (Okay, so there are a lot of geeks, and even more porn consumers, but still...)

Perhaps I'm just being shortsighted. I think most people on this thread are. If they even bothered to read the article and the FAQ.

Re:Specifics? (1)

greenrd (47933) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141677)

Why would you download Slashcode from Freenet, when there's a far more secure system already?

Re:I think this is kind of cool however. (1)

greenrd (47933) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141678)

Sigh. Here we go again. I gotta stop feeding the trolls.

1.Well for starters I really don't know a whit of Java

Fair enough.

2. Using java makes the whole thing much less cross platform

Less than what? Evidence?

3. The size of the java compiler and "runtime environment" limits access. g++ can fit quite well on my small hd. Java could not.

Just how tiny is your HDD?? Data will present space problems, not code.

4. Concept of having information residing on a changing number of systems prevents total 100% access of that data.

Oh boo hoo. Sometimes data is inaccessible. Live with it.

5. Specialized clients are also a pain. Intelgration with standard protocols would be a nice thing. I can hardly see this getting popular unless popular browsers support it.

There are no standard protocols! This is not a standard idea! You're asking for the impossible!

They're doing the next best thing - all open source and thus open standards. People can patch Mozilla to use it. If it gets popular, browser support will be no impediment.

6. Evil powers that be might just try to take it. (I get daily CVS snapshots from their page just in case).

You're absolutely right about that. But I don't think anyone will be able to erase all copies of it. :-)

Grammer Police Spelling Police (1)

greenrd (47933) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141679)

It's grammar.

And anyway, hip silicon valley types are always turning nouns into verbs these days. Like, to IPO.

Re:How to destroy FreeNet? (1)

greenrd (47933) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141680)

I'm sure they could get away with that, but it's like busting AOL for allowing their pipes to be used to kiddie porn. I mean, yeah, to the extent that they can prevent it, they should of course - but the technology to do it 100% accurately just doesn't exist. Think common carrier status.

Hum.. (1)

iserlohn (49556) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141681)

If people want to distribute warez and kiddie porn, they already have the perfect tools to do so, it's gnuTELLA. Freenet is mostly about distributing information. It for the people who want to publish their dissent for their government, but were not allowed to do so. It for people who was injusticed by forces, that if they expressed their opinions freely, whould certainly place their lives in danger. Remember anon.penet.fi? It can be used for illegal purposes, but mostly it was used for discussions that individuals required anonymity. People used it for all sorts of purposes, including but seeking psychological guidance and support. However, it only took one bad apple to ruin everything. Now if we only had a system that would allow this flow of information without having the limitation of having a centralized location, then...

Re:Perspective, lack thereof.... (1)

Ainis (52941) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141684)

What will probably happen, and would seem to be the best idea, is if MegaCorp A wants to keep it's brand new copy of OfficeSuite 3000 from showing up everywhere, just coordinate a upload/request barrage of something that looks like the OS3000 but is a worm/virus/trojan whatnot, then blame it on "pirates" or "hackers", pointing out that you can only "trust a copy we put out."

Bull. The same problem exists with current warez distribution channels and in theory it is also vulnerable to the "exploit" of yours. I bet those MegaCorps would have done it many times if it worked but they obviously failed.

DOS attack against Freenet cannot work that way (1)

Nafai7 (53671) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141686)

You can dump crap data onto freenet all you want, but the data will never propigate itself as long as noone is requesting it.

That's the whole key to the system... if noone wants "DataX", "DataX" will not be copied to other machines. Junk data will just wither and die and only tend to take down YOUR FreeNet node...noone elses.

As far as bogus files, Ian said (you READ the interview, didn't you?) that they are working on a system for tagging bogus information as such.

You said:
this is a key vulnerability of Freenet -- it can be saturated with bogus/misleading information quickly and easily

I am NOT convinced of this at all. Bogus and misleading information is not going to saturate the network because noone wants bogus/misleading information--and the system is specifically designed to only propigate information that IS wanted. Therefore, bogus/misleading information will ultimately wither and die.

I think FreeNet is an exciting project and I hope that Ian's vision comes to fruition.

Re:DOS attack against Freenet cannot work that way (1)

Nafai7 (53671) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141691)

I knew that point would come up. It's impossible to flood a system with requests for data because as soon as you start making lots of requests for the bogus data, the bogus data is replicated closer to the machine requesting the bogus data.

The bogus data will thus not be replicated very much at all because bogus data will move "closer" to the computer requesting the bogus data.

In a system like this, you would have to have to have a VERY distributed attack and it would have to be on a relatively unpopular peice of information. A very popular peice of information would never be attackable.

I believe that Freenet will ultimately be immune from DOS attacks on both the front (data submission) and back (data retreival) ends. It will take quite a bit of work before it's funcitoning properly... it is just a matter of time before Freenet (or a system like it) is perfected and cencorship will then be (damn near) impossible.

Re:DOS attack against Freenet cannot work that way (1)

lbergstr (55751) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141693)

You can dump crap data onto freenet all you want, but the data will never propigate itself as long as noone is requesting it.
If you're trying to DOS by adding random data, why not flood the system with requests for that data? Distributed, of course, so it gets copied to a bunch of different nodes. Freenet doesn't seem to be any more vulnerable than the web, but that's not saying much at this point.

ACTUALLY . . . (1)

gnarphlager (62988) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141696)

. . . you just said they both made you useless. You did not assert that your continued usefulness was "good", and I see no evidence that you being useless is "evil". And if not being schooled in a language renders you useless, then I would put to point that said uselessness is not evil at all, but rather good, as that it effectively terminates hours and hours of singletracked narrowminded programming time ;-)

Oh yeah, and there is no god. I heard it on FreeNet, where I buy my guns. :-}

This is stupid, period. (1)

The Code Hog (79645) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141701)

"This could include opinions that no democrat could countenance."

Please. Could you make a more elitist bullshit comment?

There are no ideas which can't stand the light of day.

Re:Freenet sounds brilliant! (1)

MattXVI (82494) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141704)

More like a freudian slip.

Re:True Freedom (1)

slashdot-terminal (83882) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141706)

"How untracable do you think the internet really is? You do understand how packet routing works, right?"

Actually yes. But consider all of the "public" systems out there. All they are able to do is to track you to a public site and everything is lost. Just like tracing you to a pay phone in the middle of Montana; it dosn't matter unless you can guarantee that you are going to be equating a person on the other end.

Re:This is dangerous, period. (1)

slashdot-terminal (83882) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141707)

""what are you as a marketing person doing reading 'news for nerds' ?""

"I am a marketing nerd. I target the geek community. I cannot really say much more on the subject, but Andover and Slashdot have been working on ways of improving clickthrough rates. Check these sids out: sid=slashdotmarketing
and sid=howto This should give you some idea why I am here...
"

Unfortunately years of watching commercials, seeing banner ads, billboards and the like has desensitized me to marketing in most forms. What then?

I have never clicked on any banner ads in the last 6 months anyway.

just a thought

Re:Specifics? (1)

slashdot-terminal (83882) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141708)

"This reply neatly avoided one question I have - how do you ensure integrity of the files this thing distributes? It's all fine and dandy that you *can* put files out there, but if somebody poisons the thing, there's no way to distinguish
slashdot-0.9.tar.gz 490381 bytes from slashdot-0.9.tar.gz 490381 bytes (which happens to have a root compromise in install.sh). "

Perhaps the same way we address security in a nontrusted networked environment get a signed package with md5 or pgp/gpg for the package.

"There are just a *ton* of tech issues to resolve to get this thing off the ground.. only some of them have been addressed. The harder ones are on the human interfacing... you're putting data on a network with no way to ensure
integrity. Then again, in an anonymous net what would be the point? Hrrrmmm... "

I see just getting the thing to work and have content to be the biggest issue. I am currently puzzling about exactly how to make this work and what content I can get off it.

Re:I love FreeNet: no copyrights! (1)

slashdot-terminal (83882) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141709)

"You want proof ? Follow this sid to Slashdot's infamous warez trading sid"

I mean that you can say upload the files to slashdot's server and have slashdot officially (Say Rob putting a link to the stuff on the main page). That's almost like putting up grafitti on a wall of Bill Gates house and claiming that he supports your statement.

Re:Healthy civil disobedience (1)

slashdot-terminal (83882) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141710)

"There are certainly a zillion good things that could be done on Freenet - I don't argue with that. My point is that turning a blind eye to what this tool will be used for is reckless."

How can you actually hope to stop it now anyway?
I can still do almost anything I want on the internet anyway. I just have to be sneaky about it. I could always setup a page for everything illegal prebuilt at geoshitties every day, again and again, and again and just batch e-mail people through a hotmail account to alert them to the change of URL.

Re:ooh, flamewar! flamewar! (1)

slashdot-terminal (83882) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141711)

"Please start the Java vs. Perl flamewar now. Extra credit for dragging in Python, C/C++, Lisp, Scheme, Tcl/Tk, assembler, the existence of God, and/or gun control. "

I wasn't saying that perl was evil and java was good I said that they were both evil.

There is a big difference.

Re:I think this is kind of cool however. (1)

slashdot-terminal (83882) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141712)

""2. Using java makes the whole thing much less cross platform""

"Less than what? Evidence?"

Less than comperable standards that have gnu utilities for them. Say C/C++/pascal/fortran/hell even chill. Support for java under gnu type utilities is rather bad.

Try getting Java compile under something like Minix, Hurd, Qnx, or other old/unsupported platforms that Sun dosn't like.

"Just how tiny is your HDD?? Data will present space problems, not code.
"

340Mb for the whole thing. My one (and only linux partition is 240Mb in size that's beacause linux will not autodetect my cdrom drive at all and because I have a swap partition). I really don't like the idea of something like perl but much, more bloated and probably slow to compile/run. The reason I can guess this is because even relatively simple 1 file c++ programs take at least one solid minute to compile. It's almost painful and that's just with errors and the like. Compiling a large project (one of the many ones that require a lot of code off of freshmeat) require more.

Most of the time this is a debate about not what should I put on my computer today. It's what I should delete/not delete today. Having cdroms at least accessible from dos with drivers helps a lot.

"Oh boo hoo. Sometimes data is inaccessible. Live with it."

Seemingly I tried using this reasoning with the DDoS issue when it came out and got flammed about people needing to have data at all times. Hmm.. Well on principal I usually can wait for my data. But then you end up having to go without something because the data disapears. I will not be able to find say maybe ancient Summarian texts or perhaps a special report on the condition of bore beetles in Indonesia. Popularity should not change the fact that I can access something.

"There are no standard protocols! This is not a standard idea! You're asking for the impossible!"

Standards as drafted by ANSI, IEEE, and ISO are what I consider standards. That's what allows you to connect to http://www.microsoft.com with any browser you wish. Standards help everyone.

"They're doing the next best thing - all open source and thus open standards. People can patch Mozilla to use it. If it gets popular, browser support will be no impediment."

I couldn't patch Mozilla. I am familar with basic programming and I can't. I also most likely (assuming I knew what I needed to do and how to do it) wouldn't have the time to do it. What then?

I think that sometimes making everything wizbang is a bad idea.

Re:This is dangerous, period. (1)

slashdot-terminal (83882) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141713)

""The problem with this technology is that while Americans are used to freedom of speech, and for the most part use it responsibly (see this very forum for examples) the less developed parts of the world (and I am thinking mainly of
Europe here) do not have the tradition of free speech that we Americans do, and so may abuse the privelege this technology has bestowed upon them ""

"Look, fuck you. I'm from the UK, and I know that I have *more* rights than you idiot yanks (and where do you think that nickname came from?). We don't need some flimsy piece of paper to tell us what we can and cannot do: our
legal system is firmly based on the tried and tested traditional Common Law system. "

I would think that there is some problem with the English system in that rights are not explicitely guaranteed but followed by "tradition". And anyone who watched Fiddler on the Roof knows what happens when tranditions change.

"Since you're a bloddy ignorant Amerikkkan, I can only assume that you lack the legal knoweldge to know what it is I'm talking about. Let me spell it out for you: Here in England, we have these people, see. And their ancestors 1000
years ago were rich. So we think that's cool and gave them fancy wigs and their own little room in a little building on the Thames (that's 'Temmz') where they make our laws for us. For example, his Excelency Lord Sir Rev Dr.
Winfred Snafflpoose, Twentieth Earl of Glastonbury-upon-Googlmush, OBE recently encacted a new law in his domain requiring all peasants (that's us now) to increase grain production from 20 bushels per annum to 30. Obviously,
this will strain us a bit, but we need to count on his protection should the Black Prince William attempt to conquer our territory again and confiscate our Robbie Williams CDs. "

This must be sarcasm. Well I know that England is more democratic than that.

"Obviously, England is superior in every way. "

I would logically doubt that.

Re:I just don't see it... (1)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141716)

TopShelf is a hockey term - a shot that scores up high over the goalie's shoulder. Writing about hockey is a hobby of mine, hence the nick...

Re:Healthy civil disobedience (1)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141717)

There are certainly a zillion good things that could be done on Freenet - I don't argue with that. My point is that turning a blind eye to what this tool will be used for is reckless.

something distrubing (1)

gclef (96311) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141718)

I think jinker's question was very pertinent, and I note that Ian didn't answer it at all. I know the idealistic reasons to set up a FreeNet node...I understand the drive for it, I kinda agree with it.

But, there are legal limits to freedom of speech. If I posted something blatantly libelous, and claiming to be truth when it provably isn't, I should get sued. If I post it through FreeNet, they'll never find me. This is an invitation to abuse.

I think FreeNet will allow blatant violations of libel/slander laws, and they apparently know it, and are burying their heads in the sand. This is a good start, but needs some better thinking through.

Re:Healthy civil disobedience (1)

Life Blood (100124) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141721)

Crime is everywhere, yet we don't have ID and papers check points on every street to stop criminal activities. But on the net there are tons of virtual id checkpoints and some people won't stand for it.

Yes but in the real world we have faces. On the internet we do not. In order to have a comparable level of security the internet may have to have these checkpoints because it lacks fundamental identification methods like facial recognition.

P.S. Censorship is sometimes a good thing. Read any history book on WWII and find out how control of important information saved hundreds and thousands of lives.

P.P.S. Copyright law is currently protecting a lot of free software so its occasionally useful too.

Re:ooh, flamewar! flamewar! (1)

The_Messenger (110966) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141731)

Please start the Java vs. Perl flamewar now. Extra credit for dragging in Python, C/C++, Lisp, Scheme, Tcl/Tk, assembler, the existence of God, and/or gun control.

I'm going to end this whole business right now by summoning Godwin's Law:

I heard Ian is a Nazi.

There, I said it. No go back to your homes. Nothing to see here.

Re:Missing control and diversity (1)

marx (113442) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141736)

This is ridiculous. Copyrights are not economic censorship, unless the copyright holder chooses to use it as such.

Make up your mind, either it's censorship or it's not. If the author can select who will or will not be able to see the information, he is by definition a censor.

Guess ritual rape and mutilation is free speech too,

You have confused "information" (or speech) with "expression". The act of ritual rape involves raping a person, while a (digital) picture of a ritual rape involves a stream of binary digits. One could argue that not all information should be free to distribute. This however means you no longer have a free flow of information, or "free speech". This is a clear case where you can't have the cake and eat it too. If someone gets to choose what is allowed information and what is not, then you simply cannot say that information is free. Also, if you want your restrictions to be enforcable, you cannot allow anonymity.

FreeNet Node ClientServers (1)

ltcordelia (116425) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141739)

I could easily see (in fact, I'd recommend) clients built with a small (say, 50 Mb cache, as pointed out above) server built-in. This way, you, as a FreeNet client, are automatically serving as a storage node. Assuming (and we all know what ASSUME means ;) that someone develops a FreeNet client plug-in for WWW browsers (freenet://music/mp3/OingoBoingo/), your act of downloading the software might automatically cause your client to save it as a server, so when your roommate goes and grabs it, they are grabbing from you.
This model doesn't require that every FreeNet middleware plug-in be a server. If only 1 in 100 were, it would probably be more than sufficient to ensure that FreeNet has enough nodes to be useful.
Plus, I think I like the idea of limiting the file size in the server to reduce the amount of material that I would not like to propagate.


Information wants to be free

Re:I love FreeNet: no copyrights! (1)

KahunaBurger (123991) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141745)

The use of freenet is not to facilitiate copyright infringment but to facilitiate free speech. Your supposed ability to circumvent copyright is not a goal but a side affect.

err, one of the responses in the article explicitly condemmed copyright as against free speech. Looks like a libetarian playground. No rights for the producers, no standards, and no attempt to audit accurancy of data. be an interesting social expereiment if nothing else.

-Kahuna Burger

Re:I think this is kind of cool however. (1)

FireKnight (142819) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141757)

Who will run these servers? Who will actually do it? How can a small group of even dedicated people run a service comperable to the internet?


Anyone with any extra bandwidth could atcually run one. And with his comments on setting the cache size I could see many people just allocating 50 MB or so so they could serve their local area with information in high demand. Also, using a small size would effectively disable much of the "unwanted" content that the media always cries about.

Your other comment about how could it be comparable to the internet shows, not to flame you, but a lack of understanding about what the Internet is. The Internet is not the "web" that is just the http protocol just as Freenet has a protocol of its own. The Freenet would be just one small PART of the Internet.

Economic Censorship??? (1)

LISNews (150412) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141759)

Freenet's philosophy page states: "Look at the music industry. Who is the primary beneficiary from enforcement of copyright law? Clearly it is those who distribute the music, not those who create it. In fact, it is fantastically difficult for artists to succeed in the music industry, and the quality of their output has little bearing on their chances of success (anyone who is familiar with the music charts can only agree with me on this!). Copyright law has failed to encourage creativity in the music industry." Clearly this was written by someone who did NOT sit alone in a room for thousands of hours listening to, and praticing, learning, reading, studying, and writing music. Someone who spent THOUSANDS of hours recording and practicing, thousands of DOLLARS on instruments, YEARS of time and hard work and sweat would never say this. People become musicians for many reasons, but MONEY is sure a big one, and for the lucky few that do achieve some level of success deserve some sort of payback for the incridible time they put in. They went into this with the hope of big paybacks in some way. The music industry is not open source. Who cares is the beatles or michael jackson misses a few bucks from a ripped off mp3 file. But smaller bands (Thousands of them) that just got signed, and depend on sales of CD's not just for money, but to retain a contract need every single sale, They are the ones being hurt. Spend th3e next 5 years trying to make it and you'll change your tune.

Re:Grammer Police (1)

altserver (151258) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141761)

yes, it is:

http://www.dictionary.com/cgi-bin/dict.pl?term=d ialogue

Re:DOS attacks on Freenet (1)

wholesomegrits (155981) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141764)


To summarize, this is a key vulnerability of Freenet -- it can be saturated with bogus/misleading information quickly and easily.


So in other words, it's a lot like the present day Internet? The same problems exist now. Nobody's mentioned it here though, they're all too busy saying "it can't be done! IT CAN'T BE DONE!"

It can be summed up.. (1)

J x (160849) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141765)

I think the article can be summed up as such: FreeNet will be a microcosm of the world as a whole. There are pirates. There are pornographers. There are terrorists. There are piracy nuts. But there are also mild-mannered individuals interested in freely exchanging information (anonymously or not). All of these things exist in the world, and will eventually seep into any medium that can support it. FreeNet will be no different. It's only a mirror of the population.

ooh, flamewar! flamewar! (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1141768)

Please start the Java vs. Perl flamewar now. Extra credit for dragging in Python, C/C++, Lisp, Scheme, Tcl/Tk, assembler, the existence of God, and/or gun control.

Thank you.

Keeping disused but important data (2)

Phil Gregory (1042) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141769)

Someone asked in a question

How about a voting system for one or more directories which does not add files easily but they are there for good. If it is that good a resource it deserves a champion to protect it.
and the web page says that infrequently-requested data will eventually expire and be deleted.

I think that the "champion" idea for keeping data is a good idea. Suppose the freenet server allowed the admin to define a separate, node admin-controlled area. In that area would reside data that the admin wants to be permanently available. Under normal operation, the data would be distributed across all of FreeNet, but if it all expired and someone then asked for it again, the request would make its way back to the permanent repository and get the data from there. This does negate some of the advantages of FreeNet, namely that the admin will know what's on his server and could be contstrued to be liable for it, but it allows a guarantee of permanence for the data. Does this sound reasonable?


--Phil (I'll probably be setting up my FreeNet node when I get my cable modem.)

Re:Specifics? (2)

Sanity (1431) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141772)

This is kind-of a computerised version of the liable issue. When people download stuff from the Internet and install it as root, they are taking a big risk. It is just the same with Freenet, except perhaps the threat is more obvious since you know that the person who created the file is untracable. This issue is, however, easily addressed using digital signatures. You could build up a trusted reputation by signing all of your output with the same signature, while remaining anonymous.

In addition to this, we are working on ways to give Freenet a more accurate impression of the quality of data stored in it (as determined purely by popularity).

--

Re:How to destroy FreeNet? (2)

Sanity (1431) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141773)

Ok, so the FBI has to go to court and explain that it was actually their investigations which placed the data on the node whose owner they are now trying to prosecute! Also recall that in-order to do this, the FBI has actually helped propogate the offending data further throughout Freenet.

--

True Freedom (2)

nullhero (2983) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141775)

Finally, true freedom of speech. What I find interesting is all the people that "supposedly" like freedom of speech until they begin thinking that anything can be said and then they become very Politically Correct about what should be free and what shouldn't be. Interestingly, this is mirroring American Politics and the attempts of Federal, State, and City goverments trying to limit this type of speech or that type of speech. Everyone is becoming a victim of someone else's freedom of speech.

What's funny is here is America Free Speech is a RIGHT!!! Whether that speech is hateful towards a group or is critical of the/a goverment at least our forefathers knew that and they accepted it because they felt that all speech has to be free in order for a society is to consider itself free. People have arguements whether that is correct or not but the reality is that free speech has been under attack for over a century in one form or another.

FreeNet is to give complete freedom over what you say. Whether you own it or are anonymous with it you still have the complete freedom to say it without retribution. That is what Freedom of Speech is all about. And is also one of the primary reasons that not even the Supreme Court wants to limit that kind of freedom on the internet. Anyone can say anything and no one institution has control over it. But does it stop the goverment from trying to limit it, even with two dead CDA bills, no, they now are trying to force issues with the ISP. The FBI is trying to get more generalized, rather then specific, rights to commandiere any computer with information that they suspect might be on a computer because of, oh my, terrorists or child pornographers.

When did American's want the goverment to keep a close eye on them? For over two hundred years people have flocked to America because thought control, and other basic freedoms, were considered of paramount importance. Now when technology begins to aid in securing those rights to freedom people begin to worry about the "criminals" and this is wrong because I don't like this speech it hurts me - because I'm a victim.

Is that the biggest conspiracy the goverment has created. Without creating it. Proproganda is still proproganda and anyone who believes that a goverment cares about freedom of speech but within reason, is a person blind to censorship.

Of course the really superb thing about FreeNet is that it is completly non-American and is truly about complete freedom!!

Long live FreeNet - finally true Freedom can exist!

Re:Freenet sounds brilliant! (2)

dominion (3153) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141776)


the peaceful anarchists [infoshop.org] and libertarians

My, what an embaressing mistake. The proper URL is http://www.infoshop.org/faq/.


Michael Chisari
mchisari@usa.net

Perspective, lack thereof.... (2)

Kid Zero (4866) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141777)

This guy is clueless. Typical liberal leanings, willing to tolerate warez, rape/kiddie/snuff/torture porn and God knows what else just so satisfy his need for "free information". Bah.

What will probably happen, and would seem to be the best idea, is if MegaCorp A wants to keep it's brand new copy of OfficeSuite 3000 from showing up everywhere, just coordinate a upload/request barrage of something that looks like the OS3000 but is a worm/virus/trojan whatnot, then blame it on "pirates" or "hackers", pointing out that you can only "trust a copy we put out."

Discredit it quickly, and make it unuseable. That's the key.

Specifics? (2)

Signal 11 (7608) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141778)

This reply neatly avoided one question I have - how do you ensure integrity of the files this thing distributes? It's all fine and dandy that you *can* put files out there, but if somebody poisons the thing, there's no way to distinguish slashdot-0.9.tar.gz 490381 bytes from slashdot-0.9.tar.gz 490381 bytes (which happens to have a root compromise in install.sh).

There are just a *ton* of tech issues to resolve to get this thing off the ground.. only some of them have been addressed. The harder ones are on the human interfacing... you're putting data on a network with no way to ensure integrity. Then again, in an anonymous net what would be the point? Hrrrmmm...

The Info-Blockade: a cancer attack (2)

orpheus (14534) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141779)

Ever since I first heard of FreeNet, I've been trying to come up with some 'clean room' attacks (i.e. I don't read the FreeNet discussions)

Here's one I call 'The Info Blockade' that is along the lines you describe, but uses specific Freenet features to defeat FreeNet:

1) Imagine a file that a government wishes to block within its borders (a manifesto, plans for a strike, documents proving massive corruption, etc. Historical example: Daniel Ellsberg's The Pentagon Papers from the 70's)

2) The government creates a false file (it might even be able to forge authentication, if it's the right government, and determined enough)

3) The government massively releases the false file via it's own FreeNet servers (while possibly also pursuing the usual stamp-out tactics). This information would
a) likely be the closest server to a domestic requester of the information
b) would slowly 'diffuse' onto the larger FreeNet

4) Within hours, the Government makes large numbers of requests for the false file at the communication bottlenecks into the country. This will fill the caches of the foreign (uncontrolled) Freenet sites with the false file (both from copies that 'diffused out of national boundaries in step 3, or copies from Government sites that happened to be the 'nearest' freeNet node with a copy of the file.

5) Eventually, this false data would be largely 'fixed' into a blockade around the communications bottle necks (the virtual border) of the nation. The World at large may see the genuine document, but the high-bandwidth tactics of the gov't would mean that, internally, the nearest available FreeNet copy would be 'false'.

6) The manigfesto's author could e discredited by the forged file, the strike could fail, organizers could even be made to give themselves away through false 'planted' info.

This is not a criticism of FreeNet. it is simply fodder for the 'debugging' of FreeNet I am far more interested in the free speech aspects than the warez/prOn use, and I hope FreeNet will someday stand against a determined opponent with great resources, likie a gov't or multinational

__________

Re:I think this is kind of cool however. (2)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141784)

Try IBM's jdk (looks and feel just like Sun's). The JIT (built into jre/java) is faster than you may believe...

Re:DOS attacks on Freenet (2)

schporto (20516) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141786)

Except by my reading of the interview this won't nessecarily be true. Because the random noise would get voted out. Not true for current version, but the plan is that voting will occur post viewing of material. So if I get a chunk that's garbage, I vote it down. So do others. Eventually it is voted out of existence. Companies could concievably overwhelm the system if they could get all of their workers to believe the same idea.
So for example let's just take company XYZ (no not the zipper company). Bob posts a nasty note about XYZ and people read it. It gets moderated up to a +3 (or however this works). Then XYZ finds it and wants to squash it. Now XYZ is a world-wide company. They insert a counter random noise note. These random notes won't show up cuz nobody moderated them up. They send all of their employees (or maybe just a few trusted at each site) a memo to moderate up this bogus note they just posted. Eventually the employees at XYZ won't see Bob's note anymore. However if they go home, and their ISP is running a Freenet server they will see the note, and know that their work tried to crushed the note and succeded in preventing its viewing from work.
The real problem I would forsee is with AOL/Time-Warner. If they were company XYZ there would be an immense decrease in Bob's note being seen.
This is merely my interpretation of the interview and FAQ. Not entirely sure if its true.

Re:I think this is kind of cool however. (2)

Larry L (34315) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141790)

>1.Well for starters I really don't know a whit of Java so that renders me almost useless same for perl because I
haven't been formally taught either.

I do have a c client in development, but currently it's been kept pretty low profile.

if you want to take a look: http://lar2.dyndns.org/~larry/freeclient

doesn't work as of now.

Re:Specifics? (2)

Zurk (37028) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141792)

simple...the files need to be signed and you need to know the signing key. redhat and other distros have already addressed this and include a signature as part of the files (rpm for example signs everything).

Re:Healthy civil disobedience (2)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141799)

P.S. Censorship is sometimes a good thing.
Never! Using force to silence someone - anyone - is an evil act, pure and simple.
Read any history book on WWII and find out how control of important information saved hundreds and thousands of lives.

Without censorship, how could Hitler have come to power? How could have other nations failed to act during the early years of the Holocaust? Things would have been quote different had German Jews, or the victims of the rape of Nanking, been able to communicate freely with the citizens of the nations attacking them, and with rest of the world.

WWII might not have happened at all without censorship.

"National security" is no excuse for censorship. The "security" involved is almost always the job security of some politician. If the nation is so insecure that my speech can destroy it, then it needs to fall and be replaced by something better.

Got military secrets? Fine, make sure you only tell people you trust. Don't dare try to silence me if I find out about them.

P.P.S. Copyright law is currently protecting a lot of free software so its occasionally useful too.
Protecting it from what? From being censored, it would seem.

Hakim Bey and the Broadsheets of Chaos (2)

dgoodman (51656) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141800)

I couldn't think of a good question in time for the interview, but I'd like to interject that this smacks strongly of Hakim Bey's works. I wonder if the authors were inspired in any way by his writings, particularly Bey's thoughts on what he terms "Temporary Autonomous Zones" (see also Bruce Sterlings _Islands in the Net_).

Does anyone else here see a connection? I am having difficulty putting my thoughts into words, so I'll let ya'll take over from here, if it seems relevant. have fun dongoodman

Bad metaphore alert! (2)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141801)

Oh course the point is 'tragically' missed here, because your metaphor doesn't work. Slashdot IS moderated, unlike freenet. Goto http://slashdot.org/faq.shtml for more info.

Forcing a cache to be loaded is called framing (2)

Rares Marian (83629) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141802)

The only one to get screwed would be you for framing someone else.

I think this is kind of cool however. (2)

slashdot-terminal (83882) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141803)

1.Well for starters I really don't know a whit of Java so that renders me almost useless same for perl because I haven't been formally taught either.

2. Using java makes the whole thing much less cross platform ( I guess that's where the perl client comes in).

3. The size of the java compiler and "runtime environment" limits access. g++ can fit quite well on my small hd. Java could not.

4. Concept of having information residing on a changing number of systems prevents total 100% access of that data.

5. Specialized clients are also a pain. Intelgration with standard protocols would be a nice thing. I can hardly see this getting popular unless popular browsers support it.

6. Evil powers that be might just try to take it. (I get daily CVS snapshots from their page just in case).

Re:True Freedom (2)

slashdot-terminal (83882) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141804)

""Ian Clark is quoted on http://freenet.sourceforge.net as saying that he fears that his child may ask what happened to the freedom of the press on the internet. True freedom may have already been distroyed. Freenet is trying to get
it back.""

"When has "true freedom" ever really existed? The fact is, there isn't a good-old-days that Freenet is taking us all back to.
"

Freedom to say what you want without being killed or suppressed. Perhaps in the early days of the Americas. Usually you could get away with many things.

"Again, idealism is getting in the way of common sense. There is much more freedom of the press on the internet than there is in the conventional media, and Freenet's philosophy of turning a blind eye to specious content is not just
irresponsible, but potentially dangerous to the whole issue of internet privacy. Once enough John Q. Public's get outraged by the stuff flying around Freenet, our beloved saviors in Congress will rally to the cause and take action.
We've already seen several attempts like this regarding the internet in general, but if Freenet indeed makes this information flow that much more pervasive, then the chorus calling for restrictions will get only louder. "

Could you name me one way in which a person could totally shut down the concept of freenet. Assuming it gets off the ground to the extent you describe how would you be able to actually shut it down. Anonymous RSA say 60,000 bit+ keys, and untraceable in any way? Explain this to me because I would really like to know.

Re:I think this is kind of cool however. (2)

slashdot-terminal (83882) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141805)

Who will run these servers? Who will actually do it? How can a small group of even dedicated people run a service comperable to the internet?

Re:I love FreeNet: no copyrights! (2)

slashdot-terminal (83882) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141806)

"I love it! I can trade mp3s, warez, pr0n, almost anything with anyone around the world! "

Anyone who chooses to run the client.

"Fortunately, this is not only a post-Microsoft, but a post-Copyright world. Copyrights are meaningless unless you have the ability to protect it. Sure, there are laws, but they don't mean anything to me. It's sort of like the Vice
President: a nice sounding title, but basically worthless. Ok, your sound recording is copyrighted. Big deal. Try and stop me from sending to all my friends or making it available on FreeNet, Gnutella, or Napster. Heh. "

I don't believe you. Unfounded calls of revolution and such. Sounds like a really crappy version of the French revolution.

Speaking of the Vice President he actually does have power. He also has reputation. Plus he now is going to be featured in, many, many books when he is long dead. How's that for power. I doubt you could say the same.

"Same with software. While Slashdot has it's own trading boards, FreeNet makes it much easier to get the latest cracks for apps (like Corel Office 2000 for Linux!) or games (any Loki game: your choice (I like Civ:CTP, myself. Got it
off FreeNet a while back)). This is what FreeNet really excels at. "

Slashdot does not sposor these "boards" and they don't actually store files. I doubt that you could trade files in this manner easily. I would like some actual proof.

Also you forgot to actually read the README file in the distribution. You don't have any anonyminity at all. Oops. I suggest you escape while the getting's good.

"Keep up the good work! Looks like "copys" ain't so "right", after all! "

The use of freenet is not to facilitiate copyright infringment but to facilitiate free speech. Your supposed ability to circumvent copyright is not a goal but a side affect.

True Freedom (2)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141808)

"Ian Clark is quoted on http://freenet.sourceforge.net as saying that he fears that his child may ask what happened to the freedom of the press on the internet. True freedom may have already been distroyed. Freenet is trying to get it back."

When has "true freedom" ever really existed? The fact is, there isn't a good-old-days that Freenet is taking us all back to.

Again, idealism is getting in the way of common sense. There is much more freedom of the press on the internet than there is in the conventional media, and Freenet's philosophy of turning a blind eye to specious content is not just irresponsible, but potentially dangerous to the whole issue of internet privacy. Once enough John Q. Public's get outraged by the stuff flying around Freenet, our beloved saviors in Congress will rally to the cause and take action. We've already seen several attempts like this regarding the internet in general, but if Freenet indeed makes this information flow that much more pervasive, then the chorus calling for restrictions will get only louder.

A thought about the proposed evils of FreeNet (2)

lemox (126382) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141815)

One thing that some of these people who say that FreeNet will be a huge child porn, warez, mp3, etc repository seem to forget that even within the existing internet, popularity *usually* governs the viewership of material. With the voting system of freenet that is even more true. It seems that FreeNet will be most accurately represented by its users. If it's filled with child pornagraphers, it will most likely be filled with such. If it isn't, then the occasional bit of objectionable material will eventually expire. The same goes for anything else. The same goes for warez and mp3's. The Internet began (not really at the beginning, but it blossomed) through community effort and opinion. Maybe freenet will bring back some of what the internet used to be.

Anonymity on the Internet (2)

Malefious (130102) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141817)

Who is liable?
by tcd004
You said that this: "allows information to be published and read without fear of censorship because individual documents cannot be traced to their source..."
I'm all for an open forum for free speech, but this seems almost reckless. In most venues of speech, accountability for someone's words is fundamental. The Internet has opened up the possiblity of free speech without accountability to a small degree, and look at what has happened.

From a historical perspective, anonymity has played a vital roll in the creation of this country! All of the talk about porn and warez seems to be very US/UK biased. Think for a moment that maybe the benefits of FreeNet aren't for the democratic 1st world countries, but for every other country on this planet. Yes, kidde porn will be on it. Yes, warez will be distributed on it. But the social and political exchanges that would become possible far outweigh the porn/warez factor. Think outside the US circle. A while ago Slashdot posted a great article by Jonathan D Wallace, Nameless in Cyberspace: Anonymity on the Internet [cato.org] . It's a great piece on the historical importance of anonymity. Here's the intro:

Proposals to limit anonymous communications on the Internet would violate free speech rights long recognized by the Supreme Court. Anonymous and pseudonymous speech played a vital role in the founding of this country. Thomas Paine's Common Sense was first released signed, "An Englishman." Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, James Madison, Samuel Adams, and others carried out the debate between Federalists and Anti-Federalists using pseudonyms. Today, human rights workers in China and many other countries have reforged the link between anonymity and free speech.

If you're always worried about kiddy porn and warez, you're missing the bigger picture.

Achilles heel is CDA and Acceptable Use Policies (2)

coolgeek (140561) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141818)

IANAL. I know part of the CDA (Communications Decency Act) got tossed by the Supreme Court, but I am pretty sure that the part about transmitting Illegal or obscene material stuck. Even if not, every ISP acceptable use policy I have seen, has some clause in it to that effect. Bottom line, Freenet sysops can be held accountable for their transmissions by the Man and ISPs. I understand Freenet data is encrypted, supposedly to free the sysop from "knowingly" making transmissions. That ends as soon as a cease and dissist letter is issued to sysop, wherein they are put on notice that they are in fact transmitting illegal or "obscene" (whatever that means) material. Besides, I think that since the keys to the encrypted data are readily available, it would not require a law-equivalent of a Rocket Scientist(tm) to argue some type of negligance on behalf of sysops.

What I see is the bigger question, can common people enjoy the same type of immunity that the big telecom companies enjoy? Obviously, ISPs are never held accountable for forwarding warez, et.al. via usenet. My call on that is those with the deep pockets win.

Sorry I didn't have the opportunity to raise this issue at the appropriate time.

Re:DOS attacks on Freenet (3)

Sanity (1431) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141822)

I suggest you read our F.A.Q [sourceforge.net] where we address the issue of DOS attacks. Basically DOS is something which can affect any computer on the Internet, not just Freenet nodes (as we have clearly seen). Freenet is more robust than most systems since it doesn't make much difference if you bring down a small number of Freenet nodes using DOS or DDOS because Freenet is quite robust. As for inserting bogus information, the worth of information in Freenet is determined by the number of people who request it. Random data will only displace other data in Freenet if people actually request it (and it is not really possible to simulate requests for the data due to the dynamic caching mechanism).

--

FreeNet goes AGAINST the First Amendment (3)

ToastyKen (10169) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141824)

If unpopular nodes get pushed out, doesn't that run contrary to the "free speech" dictum? Unpopular now means "kill the niggers", but 40 years ago, unpopular meant "I have a dream...". Popularity is a poor substitute for personal decision.

I completely agree. The most popular data is not necessarily the only important data. The First Amendment is all about the rights of the minority, and deleting little-used data is violating the spirit of free speech. I think that is an important issue.

Re:I just don't see it... (3)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141826)

1) Freenet adjusts availability of data based on use. If the vast majority of people using it want kiddie porn, then the kiddy porn will persist. If they don't, it will vanish.

Is the world crying out for a way to anonymously share information via the internet? YES! Many just don't know it. Far too many people won't feel their rights have been violated until it's far too late.
Copyright violations? Breaking copyright is still illegal. If your business is using illicit software, it's STILL illegal. If you are in posession of banned material, it's STILL illegal. Leave that up to the community. FreeNET is simply a medium that is free of censorship as of NOW.

Re:DOS attacks on Freenet (3)

Hobbex (41473) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141827)


  • No, no. Not random. I am talking active hostile information warfare. The point of Freenet is to publish information that makes certain people, corporations and government very, very unhappy. Put 2 and 2 together yourself.


Actually, Freenet's goals go far beyond this. Freenet is a further refinement of cyberspace, another step towards the further seperation of it and the world of physical reality. The most obvious consquence is that one of the basic laws of cyberspace, "Information wants to be free", is a lot stronger on Freenet then it is on the Internet (as it is stronger on the Internet then it when information was carried in books and minds only), but it is far from the only consequence.

Pissing people off is not a goal within itself. The fact is that those people who would be pissed off by Freenet are those who do not want any Freedom in Cyberspace - and that are already threatening it on the web.



-
We cannot reason ourselves out of our basic irrationality. All we can do is learn the art of being irrational in a reasonable way.

Re:I think this is kind of cool however. (3)

Hobbex (41473) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141828)

Java is not ideal for writing daemons by a long shot (try sig-trapping), but it is a nice language for writing experimental code that is constantly changing. Unless a miracle occurs in the world of Java VMs soon, we will probably want to write a real Unix server in another language when/if we get things together correctly, but for now I'm glad we are using Java.

BTWx1, It will work with Kaffe, for those of you who don't want to use proprietary software.

BTWx2, I originally wrote the perl client because the text based protocol made it very easy. Perl's thread handling would probably make writing a Node with even a chance at being cross platform very difficult.



-
We cannot reason ourselves out of our basic irrationality. All we can do is learn the art of being irrational in a reasonable way.

Re:How to destroy FreeNet? (3)

cyanoacrylate (47864) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141829)

IANAL.

In the US at least, one needs a targeted search warrant - the police cannot just invade your (virtual) house and look around for anything that might be illegal. Even aquiring a search warrant for kiddy porn and then booking you for warez is not legal.

In Canada, that is not the case :-( . But this protects the data stored on a node from being outright sifted.

Of course, the courts might decide that since the material is publicly available, this is equivalent to putting up pictures of kiddie porn on your front lawn.

Hoewver, due to the cacheing nature of the system, I can't see how you could be held liable for the contents of a filing cabinet you put on your front lawn, and then someone else starts putting illegal things into it.

In the end, I suspect that someone, somewhere will legislate against this sort of thing, but for now it will probably be legal.

Cyano

Healthy civil disobedience (3)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141830)

The ideal here isn't about providing criminal content to whomever wishes it, but to allow a group of people who WANT to transfer info anonymously to do so.

Crime is everywhere, yet we don't have ID and papers check points on every street to stop criminal activities. But on the net there are tons of virtual id checkpoints and some people won't stand for it.

The world certainly isn't 'crying out for a means to anonymously share information,' as you put it, because they're happy with yahoo.com, shop.com, and cnn.com. There are people who have a great need and desire to exchange info anonymously, just because Joe "lowest common-denominator" Public doesn't want it doesn't make the project useless.

There are also bigger issues that this project serves, that anonminity doesn't equal criminality and illegal/legal doesn't equal wrong/right.

Re:DOS attacks on Freenet (3)

slashdot-terminal (83882) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141831)

"I have my doubts about the viability of Freenet and the like projects because of the ease of denial-of-service attacks against them. "

I then ask you has that stopped the internet in the least?

"Freenet by definition has to accept information from untrusted sources. As the goal is anonymity, it cannot authenticate posters. Thus, at least two DOS attacks: "

Oh no not "untrusted sources". Bad not getting all that authentication.

"(1) Plain-vanilla: rapidly dump (and continue dumping) a lot of random-noise content into Freenet from multiple launch points (DDOS). Soon enough the random noise will crowd out the real information. "

Eventually that information will not exist because it will not be avaible because no one in their right mind would requst random noise.

"(2) Targeted: let's say there is a Freenet file, e.g. '/us/politics/ClintonBlowsGoats' that you want to suppress. Just make your own file with the same net and inject it into Freenet. Again, use multiple launch points and repeat injection
at will. Again, the bogus file will crowd out the "real" file very quickly. "

A read over the mailing list freenet-dev will show you that in fact these things are being addressed. If you feel the need to discuss these things with people who know sign up.

I think this is one of the first things that is being addressed.

"Note that the threat model for Freenet must assume that large corporations and governments will be trying to suppress info. It's clearly within reason for them to be able to inject false/misleading/random information into Freenet from
100s and 1000s of geographically distributed machines. "

There is no historic prcedent for information dumping and the like (I may be wrong). References?

"An accompanying problem is non-uniqueness of keys. There could be dozens of different info chunks floating around Freenet, each tagged with a '/foo/bar/qux' key. Which one you'll get depends on the node through which you access
the Freenet -- not a very desirable dependency. Try to get the same thing a day later and you may well get a different info chunk for the same key. "

The server is supposed to prevent you injecting something with the same key. It is true that you will go along a different route to request the same data but the node may actually remain the same for a while.

"To summarize, this is a key vulnerability of Freenet -- it can be saturated with bogus/misleading information quickly and easily. "

This will eventually be addressed in it's full form. What I think is that despite the possibility for random information good information will always win in the end.

You might be able to say block information from someone you suspect to be an evil source of said information. Or you could filter information from requests on your node. That is entirely possible. Eventually the data will dissapear.

Re:I just don't see it... (3)

slashdot-terminal (83882) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141832)

"The fact that Freenet will not just tolerate, but actually provide an easier means to anonymously distribute illicit material (copyright violations, kiddie porn, etc.) will be the doom of this project.
"

I very, very, seriously doubt this in any way. The people who are doing the work are in disperate locations, and because of this access is difficult to curtail. Not to mention that even people like me are probably mirroring the data for no apparent reason. Doom censoring at all.

"Idealism can be a nice thing, but there is such a thing as focusing so strongly on a central idea that all perspective is lost. Is the world crying out for a means to anonymously share information via the internet? No, not really. "

Maybe not now but what about tomorrow? Ian Clark is quoted on http://freenet.sourceforge.net as saying that he fears that his child may ask what happened to the freedom of the press on the internet. True freedom may have already been distroyed. Freenet is trying to get it back.

I just don't see it... (3)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141833)

The fact that Freenet will not just tolerate, but actually provide an easier means to anonymously distribute illicit material (copyright violations, kiddie porn, etc.) will be the doom of this project.

Idealism can be a nice thing, but there is such a thing as focusing so strongly on a central idea that all perspective is lost. Is the world crying out for a means to anonymously share information via the internet? No, not really.

re: DOS attacks on Freenet (3)

plastickiwi (170800) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141836)

(1) Plain-vanilla: rapidly dump (and continue dumping) a lot of random-noise content into Freenet from multiple launch points (DDOS).

Sure, this works, but only to the extent that people are willing to continue doing it indefinitely. Who's going to maintain the access points to keep flooding Freenet day-in and day-out? Who's going to go to all the trouble to find all the Freenet nodes and keep dinging them with bogus requests?

Freenet needs some sort of mechanism for blocking requests from hosts (and perhaps even entire domains) that keep pulling the same keys over and over. I believe they're working on that.

(2) Targeted: let's say there is a Freenet file, e.g. '/us/politics/ClintonBlowsGoats' that you want to suppress. Just make your own file with the same net

Aren't the keys hashed from the actual data in the file? It was my understanding that keys are unique, and so simple name substitution won't be an effective attack.

The Freenet site expresses some doubts about whether it's desirable (or even technically feasible) for Freenet to be easily searchable by document title or keyword. That's just not how it works.

The keys will be distributed through non-Freenet channels, in much the same way as people distribute PGP keys now: as e-mail and news .sigs, on WWW sites, etc. No one will request the bogus "ClintonBlowsGoats" file, because they'll be looking for it based on a key passed to them by a trusted source.

Re:I think this is kind of cool however. (4)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141837)

#1. Freenet is not cool, because you don't understand the language. Got it. They should have consulted you first.

#2. Java isn't as cross platform as perl? Hmm. Could have fooled me. My java apps run on my Windoze boxes (all of them), my linux box, my sparc, my mac, and the list goes on.... And with Perl, it's NOT fully cross platform. There are exceptions for every platform.

#4. How do you figure that a java runtime takes up so much space? It doesn't.

#5. We are developing something completely new, so why should we use a 'standard' protocol? There ISN'T a standard protocol that even comes close to matching what we want to do. By your logic, HTTP should not have been developed, and they should have just used a 'standard' protocol. Same for MySQL. They should use a 'standard' protocol too.

#6. Evil powers might just try. Yeah. They might try at that. Good luck...

DOS attacks on Freenet (4)

Kaa (21510) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141838)

I have my doubts about the viability of Freenet and the like projects because of the ease of denial-of-service attacks against them.

Freenet by definition has to accept information from untrusted sources. As the goal is anonymity, it cannot authenticate posters. Thus, at least two DOS attacks:

(1) Plain-vanilla: rapidly dump (and continue dumping) a lot of random-noise content into Freenet from multiple launch points (DDOS). Soon enough the random noise will crowd out the real information.

(2) Targeted: let's say there is a Freenet file, e.g. '/us/politics/ClintonBlowsGoats' that you want to suppress. Just make your own file with the same net and inject it into Freenet. Again, use multiple launch points and repeat injection at will. Again, the bogus file will crowd out the "real" file very quickly.

Note that the threat model for Freenet must assume that large corporations and governments will be trying to suppress info. It's clearly within reason for them to be able to inject false/misleading/random information into Freenet from 100s and 1000s of geographically distributed machines.

An accompanying problem is non-uniqueness of keys. There could be dozens of different info chunks floating around Freenet, each tagged with a '/foo/bar/qux' key. Which one you'll get depends on the node through which you access the Freenet -- not a very desirable dependency. Try to get the same thing a day later and you may well get a different info chunk for the same key.

To summarize, this is a key vulnerability of Freenet -- it can be saturated with bogus/misleading information quickly and easily.

Kaa

Re:How to destroy FreeNet? (4)

Zurk (37028) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141839)

umm..no. the data is encrypted and they'd have to get the keys to decrypt it which the owner of the site doesnt have. the keys are dynamically generated and change fairly rapidly.

Elite Waiters? (4)

Battra (65036) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141841)

...anything happening with Freenet except that it becomes a huge storehouse for illegal porn, pirated MP3s and 3l33t w8r3z.

No kidding, we don't those ciminals with their sommelier's spoons, white towels, and silver crumbers corrupting the Internet!

See this thread??? (4)

streetlawyer (169828) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141842)

Well, this is a thread about FreeNet, a system with no moderation, free from any sort of control over content, with total anonymity.

And this thread is absolutely swamped with useless, moronic, offensive posts, drowning out all useful discussion, and wasting everybody's bandwidth.

Somehow, I get the feeling that a point is being tragically missed here.

Freenet sounds brilliant! (5)

dominion (3153) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141844)


I have to say, I am very impressed with the level of dedication to freedom that the authors of Freenet have expressed. Let me address a few points that people have been making, though.

"Freenet could be used by pedophiles and terrorists." Okay, this is kind of ridiculous. In a way, saying this makes it seem as though there are is a large army of child pornographers just waiting for an anonymous network. Whether Freenet existed at all, pedophiles would still exist, and they aren't decreasing or increasing due to the internet. Pedophilia is a social and/or mental illness, and until you address that illness, FreeNet or not, pedophiles will still exist.

As for terrorists, who is a terrorist? Was Martin Luther King? The FBI thought so. What about Abbie Hoffman, or Gloria Steinem? Despite what people believe, our government is not terribly worried about the bomb-setting religious fanatics that they portray in the movies, they're worried about the peaceful anarchists [infoshop.org] and libertarians who feel that the real criminals reside in the oval office and/or attend stockholder meetings. Right-wing militia and hate groups are hardly ever bothered by the authorities until they commit a murder or assault. On the other hand, peaceful groups like Earth First! or Food Not Bombs are constantly hassled by police and the FBI, for "terrorist" behaviour such as blocking a bulldozer or giving away free food to the homeless.

I support FreeNet because hoping for a better future is a dangerous idea. I feel that it is necessary to have a medium where this dangerous idea can be spread without fear of incrimination.

"What about all the warez and mp3's?" What about them? More importantly, what about all the independant game developers and musicians and film makers that will now have a fantastic medium for spreading their work?

People need to do away with the idea that corporations are worth saving and protecting. We can do without them, especially the ones that are focused on making money off of the art and music of others. If the major labels all fail miserably because of MP3's, would it be a major loss? Honestly? What if in it's wake, a couple thousand indie labels started up? I not only do not fear that outcome, I anxiously await it.

I would like to help out any way that I can (I know perl, but not Java). I'll see how I can get involved.

Michael Chisari
mchisari@usa.net

I like the idea (5)

Darkstorm (6880) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141845)

I like the idea of FreeNet. Although porn in general doesn't interest me, it is all over the net. If I had the desire I could fill up my hard drive with the crap. I don't. But I don't curse the internet for having porn on it. The internet has good and bad things on it. I'm sure I can find many sites detailing how to create explosives. I haven't created any bombs in my basement.

The whole point I'm trying to make is that FreeNet is not giving us anything which isn't already on the net. But what it will give us is a way of keeping corporations from suppressing ideas. You can trust big brother AOL to properly filter your internet access, show you just what it wants you to see. If you wish to flame FreeNet for its disregard of copyright and its unconcern for the types of material it will pass, you must also treat the internet the same way. In essence they are the same thing in concept, just differ in distribution.

You may dissagree with me, but just point your browser to your favorite search engine and search for porn...or explosives...or warez. Its all out there. I personally am tiered of watching big companies try and tell me that they are doing all these things to protect thier interests. Why should my life be more complex because they need to add 3 more layers of bullshit to their product so its harder to pirate, but only slows me down.

There is good and bad to FreeNet, some will use it properly, some will not. If this disturbs you so bad then why are you on the internet? It holds the same nasty things you are complaining about. As for being annonymous...Any "free" web site is pretty annonymous. They will even give you a free email address.

How to destroy FreeNet? (5)

FascDot Killed My Pr (24021) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141846)

"...(since Freenet will just cache it on a node right beside you, and all of your requests will be soaked up by it). "

But doesn't this then serve to identify the FreeNet node location?

Let's say there was a law passed against a certains kind of document (porn, political manifestos, whatever). Let's call such a document D. I'm the FBI looking for D. I have a suspect list already, so here's my procedure:

1) Identify the ISP of suspect S
2) Get an account with that same ISP
3) Fire up a FreeNet search for D
4) Repeat step 3 until I'm certain that D is cached on a FreeNet node nearby to me.
5) Beat down the door of S and search his hard drive for D.
6) Prosecute and repeat.

(this procedure might have to be changed depending on the definition of "nearby", but you get the idea)

Furthermore, there's another similar, potentially worse problem. Let's say D is very popular (like the Starr Report, for example). A LOT of people will be requesting it from FreeNet, so it will likely be cached on EVERY node. So the FBI doesn't even need a procedure: just port-scan at random and arrest anyone running FreeNet--if they run FreeNet they surely have the popular D.

Which leads to an EVEN WORSE situation: It doesn't really matter if there is a single popular D out there. There are many many D's. Surely one of them is illegal. Just bust every FreeNet node owner a priori--don't worry, you'll find something illegal once you do the (ex post facto) search. Can't happen?
--

Re:DOS attacks on Freenet (5)

Hobbex (41473) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141847)

I already wrote a little bit about this in the Freenet FAQ [sourceforge.net] as Ian noted above. I'm not going to say that we are not worried about flooding attacks, because that would be dangerously vain, but on the other hand, we do have a system that is designed from the ground up to withstand them as well as possible. How well only time will tell, but I do believe that we are better off in this department then any other equivalent system.

Regarding the non-uniqueness of keys, that can be solved, at the loss of some convenience. The most simple solution is simply to index documents that you want to be able to have a unique address of with a hash of their contents as the key, and have the Freenet nodes enforce this relationship (there is a more complicated variant of this that uses digital signatures instead and would support updating data). Obviously, this sort of key could not be guessed, but it could be used in a link, or in an email, which is exactly the situation where it is important that the key be unique. The consensus among the developers is that we want to support both the current free type of key and this kind of key in the future.

We are aware of the technical problems that our network will face, and of course we cannot be sure that it will work. But nothing I have seen so far has convinced me, as pessimistic as I am, that it _won't_ work, which makes it worth trying in my book.

/Oskar Sandberg (The Freenet Project)



-
We cannot reason ourselves out of our basic irrationality. All we can do is learn the art of being irrational in a reasonable way.

Freenet hostility -> doing something right! (5)

vkg (158234) | more than 14 years ago | (#1141848)

I'm amazed at the amount of hostility that Freenet is drawing from the Slashdot community. It's like it's hit some sort of a totally raw nerve and really separated the men from the boys (and the women from the girls, I suppose).

Get with it, people. Freenet is where the internet has been headed from the start. The technical issues (moderation, crypto) will be sorted out in time, and then we'll get to see what the future looks like because we'll have participated in it's creation.

If you can't handle it, pick up a shovel and cut your DSL line: this technological development has always been latent since the beginning of public key cryptography, and now it's here.

Vinay

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