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News Link • Censorship


Fortunately, we may have one: ZeroNet. I was lucky to attend a ZeroNet presentation recently at a Linux Users Group; here's a summary of what I learned. (Fair warning: my understanding or recollection may be inaccurate.)

First, you may be familiar with the BitTorrent technology used to distribute "pirated" music (and legitimate content like Linux CDs). The idea behind BitTorrent is that everyone who has a copy of the file makes it available on the Internet; when someone wants a copy, they download it in pieces from all over rather than from a single web server. This is all automatic, and invisible to the casual user.

Now, imagine that peer-to-peer sharing technology applied to web pages. Every time you read, your computer announces that you have a copy, and others can download it from you. Again, this is invisible to you. But it makes the web much harder to censor -- for example, if even one copy of a web page gets through the Great Firewall of China, before long everyone in the country can read that "banned" web page. (Or so the theory's still early days for testing.)

Next, imagine that domain names on this net are not allocated by central domain-name registrars...but instead are recorded on a blockchain, the same technology used by Bitcoin to maintain its ledger. The blockchain is public, distributed, with an immutable history and no central point of control. Just as no one can take your Bitcoins from the blockchain, no one can take your domain name. When I chatted with some Bitcoin enthusiaists a few years ago, they proposed this as one of the first non-monetary uses of blockchain technology. Now it's happening.

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