Internet

Is It Possible to Build an Internet So Decentralized That It's Beyond the Government's Reach? BitTorrent is Going to Try.

"Denying gatekeepers their grip on our future."

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Exciting news from BitTorrent:

It started with a simple question. What if more of the web worked the way BitTorrent does?

Project Maelstrom begins to answer that question with our first public release of a web browser that can power a new way for web content to be published, accessed and consumed. Truly an Internet powered by people, one that lowers barriers and denies gatekeepers their grip on our future. 

The announcement is more of a manifesto than an actual explanation, but it's easy to extrapolate the basic details.

BitTorrent is a protocol that uses a peer-to-peer network for file sharing. It allows users to collect data in bits and pieces off the hard drives of others users instead of downloading files directly from a central server.

A Web browser built with BitTorrent could load pages by drawing information from other people who've already visited the same websites and automatically saved some of the information, instead of going straight to the source. So when users log on to Reason.com in the future, they'll be pulling different little pieces of data—text, pictures, ads—from millions (billions!) of other users instead of straight off of our server.

Eric Kinkler, CEO of BitTorrent |||

An obvious benefit is speedy browsing. With Project Malestrom, blockbuster stories at Reason.com wouldn't affect download speeds because users wouldn't all at once be trying to access the same server.

Project Malestrom could also help unclog the Internet's pipes—muting the debate over net neutrality and denying Washington justification for "fucking up the Internet"—because BitTorrent has an elegant system of prioritizing data flows called "Micro Transport Protocol."

"It's the best example we have of technology being used to solve what is perceived to be a policy problem," BitTorrent CEO Eric Klinker told Fast Company when asked about its Micro Transport Protocol. "It's only through the technology that the Internet's rules are written."

But here's what I find most exciting about Project Maelstrom: If the Web is distributed over a vast decentralized network, governments have no way to control what people do and say online. Sending in men with guns to pull a server offline is a waste of time if the data on that server is duplicated on billions of computers dispersed around the globe.

This technology could also supercharge projects like OpenBazaar, a decentralized e-commerce platform in which home computers act as nodes in a vast free trade network that nobody controls. And it seems like a first step towards the dream of a "mesh network," in which the Internet has no trunk pipes and every computer is simply linked to another computer, creating a network so dispersed that no central authority could control or destroy it.

H/T: Mr. Knuckle of NXT FreeMarket.

NEXT: Jonathan Gruber was right about political ignorance

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  1. CLEAR YOUR CACHE EVERYBODY! Make the freeloaders work for their own damn dick pics.

  2. Project Malestrom sounds too rapey

    1. I think of Epcot. Sadly that ride is being replaced by frozen.

  3. Sending in men with guns to pull a server offline is a waste of time if the data on that server is duplicated on billions of computers dispersed around the globe.

    Perhaps.

    *** pulls server offline ***

    /men with guns

  4. The obvious problem seems to be that Bit Torrent isn’t dark.

    I wonder if there is a way to combine this with i2p or other approaches to the DarkNet.

    1. I don’t see why not. All Tor does is route packets through a bunch of anonymizing proxies.

  5. Mozilla lies about their pop up blocker actually blocking anything.

    Mozilla breaks flashblocker leaving a huge wide open door for pretty much anyone to track you and attack your PC.

    If an open source hippy commune like Mozilla can’t be trusted to not be pure evil who the fuck can we trust to make a decentralized internet?

    1. Mozilla breaks flashblocker leaving a huge wide open door for pretty much anyone to track you and attack your PC.

      Addons ? Plugins ? Shockwave Flash ? Ask to Activate

      But yeah, I’m sure Mozilla, a company whose browser has a built-in plugin blocker and wants to replace Flash, purposely broke Flashblock, an extension that hasn’t been updated for over a year, out of “pure evil”.

      Or maybe it’s just a compatibility issue.

  6. It’s hard to say a whole lot about this because they have barely released any details. This is the most detail I can find.

    An obvious benefit is speedy browsing. With Project Malestrom, blockbuster stories at Reason.com wouldn’t affect download speeds because users wouldn’t all at once be trying to access the same server.

    That is not obvious. First, you are skipping over long-tail content, which, if it is served at all, is often served very slowly over BitTorrent. A web seed ameliorates this but moots the decentralization benefit.

    Second, and crucially, latency is very important to performance on the web. As it stands, latency on BitTorrent is pretty high. It will be interesting to see if/how they deal with this, but we don’t have the details to say right now.

    1. Project Malestrom could also help unclog the Internet’s pipes?muting the debate over net neutrality and denying Washington justification for “fucking up the Internet”?because BitTorrent has an elegant system of prioritizing data flows called “Micro Transport Protocol.”

      My limited understanding of the underlying congestion avoidance algorithm ?TP uses is that it is designed to yield to other traffic. ?TP unclogged pipes because it was BitTorrent that was clogging them in the first place. I would love to be corrected, but I don’t see how your point follows from that.

      But here’s what I find most exciting about Project Maelstrom: If the Web is distributed over a vast decentralized network, governments have no way to control what people do and say online. Sending in men with guns to pull a server offline is a waste of time if the data on that server is duplicated on billions of computers dispersed around the globe.

      Like Freenet, which already exists and is not very popular. It’s possible that the BitTorrent folks have come up with something that gets rid of a lot of the barriers to adoption that Freenet has, but again, it’s hard to say because we have so few details.

      Also, as it stands, beyond being an invite-only alpha, Maelstrom is not open source, and it doesn’t run on Linux (though they they’re “working on it”). That makes it a dead-end with “hacktivists”.

    2. Latency is an issue, but given that people are willing to put up with it to use Tor, I don’t see why they wouldn’t put up with it here. It’s just a better solution for people who want to browse anonymously. An improvement on Tor.

      1. It’s just a better solution for people who want to browse anonymously. An improvement on Tor.

        What few details we have do not indicate any features that provide anonymity. Which is wholly unsurprising, considering that BitTorrent does not provide anonymity, either.

        1. Also, I forgot to add: remember that I mentioned latency in response to Epstein’s claim that Maelstrom has an “obvious” speed benefit, not as a reason why I think it will fail (it is too early to say — though obviously, if you held a gun to my head and said I had to choose, I’d say yeah, it’s going to fail).

  7. For all the naysaying, isn’t this getting back to the original concept of ARPA-net, i.e. since the data had numerous ways to flow, it would be easier to maintain continuity after a nuclear strike wiped out DC (for example). This just moves it from the file, to the “subfile” level.

  8. Sammy da Bull Gravano said that is a no no dude.

    http://www.Anon-Rocks.tk

  9. They’ll need to incentivize contributing to the network. Use crypto-tokens that you can redeem for better browsing.

  10. . Sending in men with guns to pull a server offline is a waste of time if the data on that server is duplicated on billions of computers dispersed around the globe.

    But throwing everyone who touched the server into prison for the rest of their lives? Priceless.

  11. This tech would work really well with static pages, but there is no way it will work with anything that has a database back end. But that’s not what it is designed for, so I don’t think that’s an issue. For serving up static information that needs to be resistant to censorship and takedown, this looks like a solution with a lot of potential. Sort of a technological FYTW to would-be censors.

  12. I’m not sure how well this would work with pages that are constantly having information added, such as comment boards and shopping/auction sites. Although it would be really interesting how this would mesh with bitcoin, since bitcoin transactions don’t need to go through a bank.

  13. Question – How does this do anything when the last mile connection at the ISP is quite vulnerable to bullying. A lot of ISPs tend to be government granted geographic monopolies, and the ISP is a chokepoint where your traffic can be abused. Even if it’s just throttling this type of protocol to timeout levels of painful.

  14. A lot of naysaying on this subject. Hey, isn’t it worth a try? Even if BitTorrent doesn’t have it right, maybe they’ll lead someone else to develop a better way to do it. Make it an open-source project and who knows what might develop?

  15. berikut di bawah ini adalah beberapa pengertian internet dan intranet. untuk pengertian internet bisa anda simak di arti internet sedangkan untuk pengertian intranet bisa anda baca di definisi intranet

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