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Freenet is a peer-to-peer platform for censorship-resistant communication (freenetproject.org)
526 points by brian_herman 28 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 416 comments

I've run Freenet twice in the last twenty years. Maybe 2006, 2012? Each time CSAM was surprisingly visible. Maybe these days it's kicked off to a corner but back then it was pretty much a click away.

I'm going to have to say if that's the basic motivation for censorship resistant communication in the USA, I am disappointed and sad.

Wonder if it's actually useful in places where you actually have censorship, or if it's just a nice beacon for the ISP to send the rubber hose men to visit.

Not to mention random links purporting to be terrorist manuals, normal porn, incoherent blogs and the other usual detritus.

That was my experience too, the few times I tried it. I haven't been back for just that reason. There's nothing that I can do on there that I can't do on the real internet and even the tiniest risk of CSAM material reaching my machine is not worth it.

It's sad but I think in most modern democracies that are relatively free, like the USA and EU, the primary use for these services is CSAM. There's no other reason to use it, except maybe paranoia or technical curiosity, and only the former will keep someone using it. The technically curious will move on quite quickly.

" There's no other reason to use it, except maybe paranoia or technical curiosity,"

How about idealism?

I mean 20 years ago, you would have been declared paranoid, if you said secret government agencies and big corporations track everything you do online - but now you just speak a inconvinient truth, most people are aware of, but try to ignore it as much as possible.

It is good, to have working alternative plattforms, in case there are really needed by us in the west.

But yeah, currently I do not use them either, because my last experience with them were "dark", too. Because yes, the strongest incentive right now have those people not acting out of idealism, but because their content is not tolerated on the open web. Quite a shitty situation. How do one establish a "alternative, anonymous" communication service, without attracting all the kicked out elsewhere btards first?

You are falsely equating anonymity for privacy.

The goal of anonymity is to avoid disclosure of identity but not secrecy of content. You don’t care if the entire world sees the substance of the communication. You care that they cannot detect who you are. Networks like this and Tor share your information across a large number of nodes to resist identity detection.

Privacy is the opposite. You don’t care that the entire world knows who you are so long as they can never read your communications. Privacy is challenging to achieve with anonymity because it is almost impossible for one party to trust the other against information disclosure if they have no idea who they are.

The first world problem is confusing these concepts so that you can have your cake and eat it too, typically for self-serving reasons.

Freenet provides both: Secrecy of content and pseudonymity — both are required to enable confidential disclosure to a journalist on the (typically valid) assumption that the opsec of the journalist is far from perfect.

The entire goal of journalism is information disclosure, to publish a story. That is not privacy. The goal here is to not reveal the identity of a source.

The goal is to publish a story. Hiding the identity of a source is a way towards that goal.

The journalist does not need privacy or confidentiality to publish. The source does. And without the source, there’s no story.

Have you ever been threatened by a right-wing extremist that they would come to your house when you answered their hatred online and pointed out the flaws in their logic?

I have been.

That’s why I deeply appreciate having a pseudonym that’s separated from where I live so I don’t have to fear Neonazis turning up at my doorstep or attacking my kids when I write something they do not like.

You know that you could just name yourself "John Doe" and that's it, right?

As the original commenter pointed out, neonazi networks using their connections in law enforcement and other corporations (or simply setting up honeypots) are a real concern for personal safety.

EDIT: For what it's worth, if neonazis are not a threat where you reside (where is that and how can i get citizenship?), any bad actor could engage in the same kind of behavior, whether it's a political police, an industrial group whose corruption/pollution you're fighting, a local mafia who wants to ruin you...

Yes. That experience made me change to that. But “John Doe” will quickly be my IP address when there’s a Nazi in police (see the reports about organized Neonazis in police and military in Germany in the past few years who also leaked police data to other Neonazis).

I can use Tor or I can use Freenet. That’s it. I use both: Tor to google simple medical questions. Freenet to discuss. Because in Freenet — different from Tor — the Forums don’t die and the prevailing forums don’t block me with neigh unsolvable CAPTCHAs.

If y'all only try to see if there is CSAM and then uninstall when you succeed, then of course the CSAM percentage will become high because only the CSAM perverts do not leave!

So instead keep using it and actually put the other content onto it yourself!

Hosting on Freenet is free and easy, you just upload a site and post it to FMS and it will be online for many years if people keep accessing it.

You don't need any server whatsoever: The machines of the other users store content which you upload (in an encrypted fashion so they cannot censor it and aren't legally culpable for it). It automatically gets replicated to more machines as it becomes more popular, thus good content stays available for a very long time and unpopular content gets garbage-collected.

So put your "money", i.e. effort, where your mouth is:

Don't just only constantly criticize FAANG for lack of privacy and censorship.

Instead, also take care of actively maintaining the spaces which provide privacy & freedom so they don't become barren.

A free public space which is only controlled by the general public needs the general public to take care of it.

Honestly, both times I wanted to see what was there. It provided no material benefit over, say, tilde.town, with added (1) legal risk (CSAM) and (2) ethical risk (providing some hosting to CSAM).

There's this thing where a certain level of censorship resistance and free speech seems to yield some very horrible things. I don't even want to remark on the US law (first amendment rights, legal analysis) here, just focusing on ethics.

> A free public space which is only controlled by the general public needs the general public to take care of it.

I would remark here that the traditional system for taking care of a general space is to have a government controlling it, whether that be the council of elders, a senate, or a monarch. Fully democratic/anarchist space management is not typical of a human society. The historical outcome of fully unregulated online spaces seems to be a lot of CSAM and groupthink.

anyway. freenet is technically interesting, legally dodgy, and, imho, an ethical trap.

To be consistent with that argument, you also need to oppose WhatsApp groups on ethical grounds. Do you?

I have no ethical obligation to move my assets onto a corrupt network in order to reduce the percentage of illegal material there, no.

This is a ridiculous position.

The network is flawed. It's not hard to provide anonymity and yet still be able to remove child pornography.

Stop being an apologist for a network that delivers child pornography. Absolutely nothing makes this unfixable except the creators' dedication to making false ethical arguments.

You should investigate how this changes with the Web Of Trust plugin and FMS — both have been in use for more than a decade.

Both provide user-controlled moderation. They make it your responsibility as user not to boost people who post content you disagree with. And if it isn’t seen, it disappears automatically from Freenet, just as it does with a caching proxy.

Both are game-changers, and if it weren’t for them, I would have a hard time using Freenet.

The problem really, really isn't the percentage. It is the total number.

> So instead keep using it and actually put the other content onto it yourself!

“Make the place I like better by being there!”

Nah. Make the place you like better, then people will want to be there.

I've used Freenet and I2P heavily on and off for years. It still baffles me how people don't understand the mentality behind using Freenet. Censorship resistant platforms help keep society free, yes. And they are sometimes abused by bad people just like any other tool, yes. But they are so much more than that.

Do you remember the early internet? The Internet before JavaScript, ads, and commercialization was everywhere? Do you remember surfing through homemade webpages that someone put a lot of thought and effort into? Do you remember usenet? Do you remember not even imagining that some corporation or government was collecting your data in-bulk?

That's Freenet. It's the internet that should have been.

I came for the memes and I stayed for the community. FMS and WoT (Freenet Message System and Web of Trust) use trust lists to decide what I see and most people who use FMS and Sone (sort of like Twitter) are decent. Pedo's and generally bad people typically use Frost-Next, a third party application that the Freenet Project does not endorse that is susceptible to spam. I have had so many in-depth, thought-provoking discussions on FMS over the years. Far more than any other clearnet website today, Reddit included. There is a real sense of community on Freenet you'll be hard pressed to find elsewhere.

I enjoy making websites and writing. Freenet hosts numerous websites (freesites) I have made over the years and a ton of my political and philosophical writings. I just finished making a Super Mario 64 Freesite in honor of one of my favorite video games. I spent a lot of time working on it and I'm proud of it. That's just for Freenet. I live in the United States too, and this is what I use Freenet for. I also host the Astronomy Picture Of the Day freesite I update everyday. You don't have to need censorship resistance to use Freenet, it's existence merely safeguards the prerequisite to all real civil liberties in the digital age-- privacy. I am convinced that the existence of Freenet and tools like it (especially Tor) are necessary for a free society to exist.

I2P is great too and I'm just as passionate about that, though it's been awhile since my servers have been up. Same philosophy of censorship resistance, but with I2P you have to run a server 24/7 to host content and can have dynamic content as well. Freenet is more distributed. I2P is like Tor but is more used by nerds than criminals. Both I2P and Freenet are amazing tools. I highly recommend people to check them out.

Decentralized platforms need signed messages, signed upvotes / downvotes, and an open ranking algorithm otherwise they can never be an alternative to centralized systems like Twitter

Censorship shouldnt be the central focus. The real hope is that from 1000 ranking algorithms, we can find one that isn't a divisiveness amplifier

Which is exactly what Freenet provides, because it is needed to prevent censorship by spamming.

Along with pseudonymity that prevents people from pressuring you into voting as they wish.

Web of trust is rudimentary, something closer to pagerank is needed and that would rely on up/down votes which also need to be signed

What would be closer to pagerank?

Freenet ranks others by their distance to you and weights their votes from that before aggregating them.

And the up- and down-votes in the Web of trust are signed, because that is what happens automatically if you upload something under your key in Freenet.

Raph Levien implemented an attack-resistant trust-metric that had some formal similarities to PageRank for Advogato, a free-software developer community which failed: it turned out it needed some moderation even with this mechanism, and it didn't get enough. But the ideas and experience might be useful.


This sounds like it tries to establish the notion of global respectability (see https://web.archive.org/web/20170628190710/http://www.advoga...). It’s something that I consider futile — part of the huge failure of clearnet moderation: To moderate billions of people, you have to give up on the notion of a global notion of who is always right.

It might be possible to establish for a given not heavily contested fact whether it is correct, but not to establish for a given person whether they are a crank. Just ask people around the world about the POTUS.

Freenet replaces that by personal trust. The only remainder of a global trust is initial visibility via seed-IDs. And that is transparent and can be revoked by every user.

> Wonder if it's actually useful in places where you actually have censorship

It's not like we're immune to this in the west, didn't you see the censorship on all the social media recently?

> I'm going to have to say if that's the basic motivation for censorship resistant communication in the USA, I am disappointed and sad.

P2P was mostly about piracy. NNTP was used before that. BBS's were before that. And what comes next? IPFS?

Yikes! Sounds like something to avoid.

You have to go out of your way to find abusive media on freenet. There are many top lists of freesites and they are censored of abusive media.

I recommend FMS the freenet messaging system which uses web of trust successfully to moderate messages in a Usenet forum.

I am glad it evolved a bit, it used to host a lot of child porn, nazi/fascist material etc And clearly you would be exposed to it through messages or not well annotated index.

This is interesting, I don't remember seeing more than trace amounts of “nazi/fascist material” there at all. Sure, someone has probably thought that the world needs another copy of Mein Kampf, or has had a real important story of how Jews did 9/11, and maybe these freesites are still (partially) available after a decade or so (I am not at all bothered to check, to be honest), but general amount of such loonies has definitely been at the usual level of any decently sized internet community. As for Freenet forum systems, I can only remember a prolific Frost spammer who was either a persistent troll, or a mentally ill person, neither of which is unfamiliar to experienced internet users. It seems to me that some mental inertia has made you continue the list of “offensive content” with “nazi/fascist material, etc.” after you've mentioned “child porn”.

What I don't understand is the word “exposed”. Let's take Mein Kampf, for example. I am sure have hit upon it on the internet multiple times over the years. I am sure anyone can find its text in no time, even if their native country banned it. Still it never occurred to me to start reading it. It would really be a joke, and I have nearly endless list of better things to read. I guess I was “exposed” to Mein Kampf, so what?

More like pictures of modern child abuse, child slavery (IE: ownership, sale, etc), and brutal torturous murder.

Basically anything you've thought of the NSA or other intelligence agencies intercepting, it was wide out in the open there. The types of things you'd see kids telling themselves about urban legends of the "darkweb", well, it was extremely real and in the open on Freenet...

You mean like the early 2000's 4chan random board?

Sarcasm aside, that experience sounds similar to what I've seen when trying out freenet way back.

On the other hand my I2P experience was quite pleasant (by just following the planet.i2p stream, basically an announcement site for new "registered" domains and torrents), with easy discovery of downloadable leaks, anarchist and conspiracy theorist blogs. Really felt like my 90s internet experience where I could find new and edgy content everywhere.

> way back

Maybe you should try again. It is quite a different experience nowadays (if you just use what you see and don’t go digging for stuff to get angry about — if you do the latter, you’ll also find "the internet" to be a place full of disgusting evil).

Happy to hear that new user experience is different nowadays, and also the fact that there's time and money invested into continued Freenet development (as I've seen in other comments).

Maybe I'll give it a go next time when I muck around with anonymous P2P setups and protocols, until I get frustrated with the UX/DX, as always, and give up.

That would be great — I’d love to welcome you to Freenet, where no one can watch you read!

I was on 4chan's random board in the early 2000s, and it was nothing at all like that.

The nsa intercepts everything so naturally there’s something illegal among it

You forgot UFO parts for sale, bulk jenkem supply in railroad tank cars, and LSD application over screen oscillation, because you certainly was on something when you've seen those urban legends of the “darkweb”.

By the way, I really hate meaningless spooky terms like “dark web” and “dark net”. I can still remember the time before journalists invented them.

No I did not mean that. I meant what I said, not whatever you read. Which one of us is on drugs is up for debate. I do not believe the NSA is sitting around studying X-Files. They largely are analyzing and investigating large quantities of child porn and exploitation from southeast asia, rape and abuse in the middle east, cartel executions and kidnappings, war crimes and African slave trade, organ harvesting in China, among other things.

Given the other responses, I wasn't the only one who was aware of the content on Freenet 20 years ago.

And the quotes around "darkweb" were largely to abstract it as a concept of urban legend itself, so I guess we can agree on that.

Wait what? The NSA is sure as hell not interested in third world suffering. I'm pretty sure they're far interested & occupied with breaking crypto, hacking China/Russia, getting into Iranian/DPRK nuclear centrifuges than in child slavery, which is a shame, but that is how it is. It's an American agency serving the interests of the American govt, not necessarily victims elsewhere.

Who said they "cared"? I said intercepted. They basically intercept everything, and specifically will capture everything they monitor of terrorists.

> In the years since 9/11, police raids of terrorist cells in the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain have yielded countless images of hard-core child pornography.





I'm done with this thread. You guys are way too literal. If I cared I would find better sources, but two simple Google searches is enough for me. I have dishes to wash which is much more productive than these threads have become.

OMG! You just copy pasted from the internet that makes a link from 9/11 to CP and then you want to do the dishes? YAF!

Let's say someone decided to buy a child slave on a Central Slave Market on Freenet. He would have a problem with that 5 years ago. And also 10 years ago. And also 15 years ago. Why? Because there never was a Central Slave Market, and no one was selling child slaves.

Perhaps my memory fails me, and you have some links to fix my error? Please share. Before you say you can't remember the specifics, let me tell you that most freesites are still available (at least the pages in their root archives), and that Frost and FMS has archives of most public discussion that happened there, so it would not be hard to check whether something like this happened or not.

Anyone who took this trolling at face value should really reconsider trusting everything they read on the internet.

There was a messaging system before Frost. You can go look that up, I'm not doing this for you because you are calling me a troll, which is a great way to end civilized discourse and end any attempt at reasonable conversation.

I never said that a central slave market was on Freenet. I don't even think the protocol would be a very effective way to do it due to how slow and unreliable the protocol is at retrieving things. What I meant was that images of this stuff were available in large galleries, and the previous messaging system before Frost would auto-find new forums for you at random. Frequently they would be large galleries of images of this stuff.

So have fun with whatever you are expecting me to pull out of 20 years ago links that are like however many 40+ hex digits long. I haven't used Freenet since I saw that stuff. Not really sure why you'd think I would keep links to it or I would have a photographic memory or even would actively seek out the stuff.

I'm not sitting here saying I contributed, I'm saying I would play around with Freenet, even submit some harmless static HTML pages for fun to test the protocol. After the messaging system started popping up forums that I didn't find acceptable, I deleted the client and never touched Freenet again.

The burden of proof is not on me nor you. This is a conversation on the internet not a spontaneous scientific journal nor an inquisition.

You might want to check again. If you use the indexes, the current forum systems (FMS) or the social network (Sone), you are very unlikely to find any of that stuff without actively going searching for it.

The days where many people posted stuff just for the thrill of being able to post something illegal and disgusting are long gone — partly because the communication structures in Freenet evolved, so such stuff will quickly make you invisible to most people (since most people subscribe to moderation that hides that).

The problem is that in early 2000s you could find child porn, gore and the rest of “NSFW” stuff on the Web. It is also not wrong to assume that almost nothing you (or anyone) saw on Freenet had originated on Freenet (which also was a fresh tiny project without significant bandwidth or storage capacity back in the days). So, using your own logic, you had to disconnect from the Internet, and never touch it again. But you did not do that. It seems to me that you chose to shoot the messenger here, and remain in sweet ignorance provided by armies of third world grunts scrubbing “normal” services clean from all the unpleasant interactions.

Also, if we talk literally 20 years ago, Freenet was at infancy, still used arbitrary human-readable content keys that were supposed to be shared externally —


— and web pages were only a proposed option (with Javascript!):


You are probably thinking of more mature days of Freenet version 0.5, which, in its turn, was a network independent from Freenet version 0.7 (2008—present). I've seen 0.5 when it still ran in parallel, and can't remember the content being way too different in general. Still no child slaves for sale.

TIL 'jenkem'.


edit: though bulk delivery by railroad car may be technically correct, just add some heat, or let the car stand for a while.

One does not need to imagine the 'epic whiffs' coming from that, because it happens IRL!

[0] https://www.fox10phoenix.com/news/poop-train-full-of-nyc-sew...

>> Let's take Mein Kampf, for example.

Not that I want to defend that book, but it at least has some historic value. It is the sort of thing I would envision a research library keeping on a back shelf. But space lasers and pizza restaurants with dungeons, such things are beneath even Freenet.

This is pretty much the identical argument of 4chan alt-right movements, where the value of free speech is primed so high that they do not think about collateral damage.

There's a reason books and movies have an age restriction. The reason is that kids are not able to understand the consequences. It's easy, as an adult, to rationalize that they see it eventually.

But if you had a welcome screen with some gore porn on your computer...would you a) use it in a public cafe? And b) use it in front of a kindergarden?

Why not? Exactly. The same reason why communities should be able to decide why they do not want to host gore porn on their companies.

Free speech works two ways. If I decide I dont like gore porn on my computer, but the peer to peer database/blockchain/whatever decides for redundancy purposes that my computer has to host it, I'm not gonna use that technology again.

Users must have the decision what kind of content they want to see. Otherwise it's gonna be the same propaganda machine all over again, where content of hate and emotions will persist longer than content of rationality and logic.

In Freenet, content that does not get accessed disappears. To access content, you must first learn that it exists. You must see it.

And Freenet has a method for communities to express that people (actually pseudonyms) who disrupt the system should not be seen.

It is a decentralized blocking system where the choice of moderator is on the individual. It easily runs circles around current clearnet moderation systems, because it had to cope with actual pseudonymity from the start, and it was created to address an actual need to stop disruption without centralization.

If you don’t like gore porn, you ask the other pseudonym not to post it. And if he/she/it continues, you record blocking, and those who trust your judgement will no longer see that pseudonym. That’s how in Freenet you decide what content to see. And it works: Within Freenet we had quite a few constructive discussions between political groups that would normally be at their throats.

So Freenet itself acts like an abstracted ISP that only provides access while the moderation system does the value-call and moderation — also fully decentralized, but as separated from the core system as a hacker news moderator or web-hoster is from the internet service provider.

And if I say „the Freenet moderation system runs circles around clearnet moderation“, I mean it: The fediverse people are now experimenting with implementing the Freenet moderation system for Mastodon and others: https://socialhub.activitypub.rocks/t/scalable-moderation-us...

> There's a reason books and movies have an age restriction.

Yes, it is called hypocrisy. Do you think there exist a kid who stopped at age restriction dialog?

Ratings have always been either a publicity stunt, a way to benefit from grab of authority on them, or a pretext for censorship. Most well known example is MPAA, which basically allowed studios to make the same kind of movies while jumping through hoops to tell people they were “approved”. Later, it was shortened to “This label means the kids won't see it, so it's okay, don't worry”. Another example: until very recently, there was no age restriction on books in Russia, and no one cared at all. Then the government decided to promote itself as a defender of “traditional values”, and age ratings were promptly introduced, just to make any non-encyclopedic discussion of homosexuality fall under 18+. Does it stop people from accessing information? Not really, and it doesn't matter, because ratings are not for kids, they are for grown ups who feel good from looking at “protective measures”. And so, some teenagers are doing drugs while their parents are happy because they bought family access control software to shield their children from the information about drugs and other nasty stuff.

I mean, you can buy Mein Kampf on Amazon so it's probably not the best example

if people get exposed to bad ideas, they can't be trusted to use their own logic and moral faculties to determine right from wrong, which is why free speech is more than unnecessary, it's downright evil. no, instead, we need governments and corporations to regulate speech, for the good of mankind.

...or so the thinking goes

> they can't be trusted to use their own logic and moral faculties to determine right from wrong

History has shown this to be true over and over and over. We even have evidence to this: https://news.mit.edu/2018/study-twitter-false-news-travels-f...

Fake news travels faster and convinces more people than the truth.

Everything is repeated throughout history, but more often than not consensus must tend towards the truth, otherwise human knowledge wouldnt have advanced so far. If the information is of real value (eg. farming techniques, technology, weapons) people are quite discerning.

On the other hand, if it's essentially gossip, like twitter, the truth isn't particularly important but shock value is- it's more about social standing/status, entertainment or whatever.

The arguments for controlling 'misinformation' are really just claims by one entity that they should be in control of the gossip.

There were also times in history when technology and knowledge got lost in religious zealotry. Some of it we are only now trying to recover. We don’t know how much is still missing.

If information is of real value — like vaccines — … do you see where I’m going?

The vast majority of Americans have multiple vaccinations. How many are required for school? Just because people are hesitant about a new vaccine for a year hardly proves a greater point- it is a long-term trend towards truth, not a straight line. Those dark times in history are notably high points in censorship as well.

I would go further. I would say that people should be allowed to make up their own mind without unjust interference (i.e. censorship (such as shadow-banning) and artificial manipulation of visibility (such as putting 'fact-checks' in prominent positions)) regardless of whether someone in a position of authority (whether elected into government, bought into the board of directors or shareholders of some company, or just has mod privileges for whatever reason) thinks it's true or not. The people decide for themselves what's true, not the powerful.

I would go even further and say that people should be able (in practical life) to choose their own moderators to filter and curate content. And know that they work for them, not for some third party.

In today's media visibility is massively skewed by the platform's interest of "engagement" — which too often means enragement. That’s how fake news spread so fast (also in ad-click-financed newspapers, by the way).

They aren’t only exploiting human psyche, but also the proprietary, centrally controlled algorithms that drive social networks and the ad-financing of newsrooms.

If you log out of Youtube and then watch a talk about Java development, and then the Youtube algorithm suggests alt-right content in the auto-play-list, then something is wrong with the algorithm.

It is ironic that platforms that send the fake news your way in the first place then put a fact check underneath.

I would take sociological studies on hot-buttos issues with many tablespoons of salt. People by and large live in a consensus reality, so obviously there are social mechanisms that ensure this. This happens even in the presence of massive propaganda systems pouring money and time into distortions of the truth - like the huge anti-environmental propaganda, or soviet propaganda that was widely known to be false even inside the soviet union.

Maybe it’s because the education system has failed at critical thinking.

> Maybe it’s because the education system has failed at critical thinking

Sure, education can improve things. But this is a problem even worse outside the United States, so it's hard to blame it on a single education system.

It’s not just the education system. It’s our structures of information that are based on engagement (to drive ad-revenue) instead of value to the reader.

And this is something Freenet actually solves to some degree. Because it had to. This is why in Freenet we know the Zen of Tolerance: https://www.draketo.de/politik/random-babcom#the-zen-of-tole...

- You are entitled to voice your opinion.

- You are not entitled to force it upon everyone.

- You are not entitled to force it upon a subgroup repeatedly.

- You are also not entitled to hurl hate towards participants, since that would disrupt communication.

- If you cannot stay respectful and friendly after being asked to, I will unsee you and advise others to do the same with a clear and brief explanation, so they can take an informed decision.

you would rather truth be determined by governments or corporations than left up to individuals to decide for themselves?

> you would rather truth be determined by governments or corporations than left up to individuals to decide for themselves?

Didn't say anything of the sort. And truth isn't determined by any of them. Which agin, proves the point. I had a comment with only three sentences, and you managed to misread it.

I'm not for corporate or government censorship, but people that can't read comments correctly are a much bigger problem.

I don't think "a copy of Mein Kampf" is the Nazi stuff they're talking about.

No I talk about neonazi stuff. Not books that nowadays are more part of history than anything else.

it still does, op is disingenuous or naive

Out of curiosity, what sort of things are on freenet? Is it worth installing it in a Tails VM?

Freenet requires your hard drive to allocate ~2GB of raw space of encrypted unknown data that basically makes your machine a "node" in the network. Whatever is in that cache you will never be able to know, as it's encrypted in a way that querying is based on encrypted hops and an associated TTL like feature.

It's incredibly slow (think Tor over Tor over Tor), and needs to be run for 1-2 weeks to even work mildly. Tails would not be an ideal choice, a dedicated space is necessary.

There's no real reason to use Tor to connect to Freenet anyway, as it's encrypted in a way that the network traffic cannot be known nor even the content on your machine by yourself unless you know the private key which serves as a link to the content you are trying to locate, and it eventually will sync up those keys with your local storage. You don't even know the public key of the content that is stored in this local cache.

If you've seen Silicon Valley, this is the idea that likely founded "the Platform" concept, but they add a bit of magic and speed to the concept for the show. When your content is published, it's published "everywhere and nowhere". If you publish something, then destroy your node, that content will stay in many nodes and still be accessible. This information gets kept or cleared out based on how often it is being queried.

"It's incredibly slow" — I’m seeing Freenet stream video nowadays. Not HD video, but video.

Latency is typically high, but the browsing experience is pretty good.

Freenet's default feature is HTML sites - just like the regular web but fully hosted on Freenet and only accessible through it.

The content of those sites is whatever their authors want it to be :)

Further, dynamic applications such as forums are also available. Here's a list of apps built on top of Freenet: https://github.com/freenet/wiki/wiki/Projects

Freenet needs UDP so it likely won't work on Tails as Tails tunnels everything through Tor - which does not support UDP AFAIK.

Freenet can be run through Tor using Onioncat as a virtual network. [0]

[0] https://bluishcoder.co.nz/2016/08/18/using-freenet-over-tor....

If I read this correctly it implies that Freenet's opennet does not work anymore?

So you can only connect to Freenet with this setup if you already know someone else who uses Freenet and peer with them manually ("darknet").

> The content of those sites is whatever their authors want it to be :)

A network vending child pornography should not be happy about this. This should be a terrifying warning to you.

Unfortunately you don't see it as a genuine problem, so you explain it away.

for a society to have freedom of speech there absolutely has to be a „safe“ way to host csam.

> Freenet's default feature is

bad developers that make excuses for a network that won't stop the delivery of child pornography by hiding behind false ethical arguments

What I see are mostly opinion blogs (lots of technical and political stuff), forums and some media-sites. The most recent pretty unique site I saw was a mario64 fansite.

Check with your local laws whether you expose yourself to the risk of a friendly 2am visit by the police for hosting illegal content.

I like the fact that I can expose a machine using tor. Its .onion address becomes something analog to a public ip address[0]. It even works behind a nat, so I can ssh to a machine of mine from anywhere in the world. The problem: the other point must support tor to access it.

Anyone knows a way using these overlay networks, tor, i2p, freenet, to expose a service on a machine behind a NAT to be accessed through the internet without the need of clients needing special software?

[0] https://golb.hplar.ch/2019/01/expose-server-tor.html

Freenet is not a point-to-point network. I.e. you cannot address a specific computer on Freenet by something like an IP.

(Well you can, but you shouldn't want to, will explain below.)

Freenet is a datastore: It addresses content, not computers.

So a Freenet address points to a file or a directory of files (a zip). The addresses can be versioned so files/dirs can be updated.

A file/dir may be stored anywhere in Freenet. Where it is stored is not known - the machines which store it are anonymous so censorship is prevented. If many people request a file, it will get stored on more machines automatically.

Now of course you can make a specific computer constantly publish new versions of a file to "send" data like on IP and poll for a remote file to receive data. This can emulate direct connections and does work.

But it invalidates the whole point of Freenet:

Freenet wants to be censorship-resistant, so content should not rely on a single computer to keep existing because that is a single point of failure.

You cannot do that through freenet though : freenet does not work in a server-client way. At its core, it is more like ipfs : it shares static files. That means you can share static websites / blogs / even mail and bbs. All serverless though

If you don't want additional software requirements client side, then it means you need a publicly-routable IP address on your server, or at least publicly-routable IP/port pairs. This can be achieved in a few ways:

- use a VPN from a net-neutral ISP to obtain a real public IP address over VPN (5-10€/mo)

- route specific ports to your own machine from an internet-facing server (via SSH/Wireguard/VPN tunnels) ; unfortunately it makes it impossible for different people (backend servers) to share a single routable port

- reverse proxy specific protocols to a backend server, using for example TLS SNI (or eSNI) headers ; a single internet-facing server can serve many different vhosts to separate backends, where TLS encryption is terminated on the backend

But of course you can run tor/i2p and other crypto-secure routing protocols (yggdrasil, zeronet, cjdns...) to expand the ways to reach your server. I'm unaware of good protocol-agnostic address discovery... for tor we usually do TOFU over DNS (eg. onionMX records) or HTTPS (HTTP2 Alt-SVC headers). The GNU Name System, at least on paper, sounds like the perfect crypto-secure naming scheme that could securely bootstrap addresses from names, but i don't think it has broad adoption yet.

I stay away from it because chunks of the data is hosted on your local machine, and it could potentially contain very unsavory data. Sure it's encrypted but try to explain that to your local law enforcement.

Freenet does not give you the decryption keys to the data you host, you don't know what you're hosting, hence you're not responsible for what it could be decrypted to.

And even if law enforcement could successfully convince a court that you're doing something illegal by hosting data which you cannot look into:

They couldn't first acquire the necessary search warrant because they couldn't prove that you are the one who is hosting the particular piece of illegal data: Freenet's routing algorithm is anonymized, both the people who retrieve data and the people who store it are anonymous. (Disclaimer: The security of the anonymization depends on how you've configured Freenet. In the less secure modes a well-funded attacker can de-anonymize you.)

So if law enforcement knows a certain file is evil then they cannot easily find out the IP addresses of the people who store it, and the people who store it don't know that they are doing so.

Hence it is censorship-resistant :)

...hence you're not responsible for what it could be decrypted to.

You do NOT want your defense in court to rest on convincing a judge or jury of this.

So we must shut down all hotels because they all unknowingly hosted some illegal activities in their rooms, e.g. if someone met a prostitute there?

In fact we cannot have people rent out condos or houses anymore either because illegal stuff will happen there and the owner is responsible even if they don't know!

Also we need to shut down all ISPs because at some point in time illegal data was cached on their machines during transit!?

I don't think this deserves downvoting, because it gives an opportunity to point out 2 things I didn't.

1) The crime in question is not just that you acquired the content, but that you disseminated it. This is in sharp distinction from a hotel, in which the person renting the room is the perpetrator. It's not like there is some RICO statute that hotel owners routinely get pinned with when renting rooms out to shady people unless they are literally involved in RICO.

2) CASM is unique among crimes (in the USA) in that knowing of it and NOT reporting it is itself a crime. You cannot claim that you were frightened. So you now have to prove that you never decrypted it yourself, on top of evidence that you disseminated it.

This is not a position you want to be in legally.

That's just the reality of the world today. Anything regarding crimes on the Internet, it's almost always the defendant being guilty until proven innocent, especially against cops/DAs with a dearth of technical knowledge.

You may be innocent, but you'll be spending tens of thousands of dollars and a chunk of your life agonizing over it before "justice" is realized.

> So we must shut down all hotels because they all unknowingly hosted some illegal activities in their rooms, e.g. if someone met a prostitute there?

No. What they said is that you don’t want to have to convince a jury that you aren’t responsible for stuff that is on your computer

I’m so tired of people arguing in bad faith. Debate what people believe, not a stupid version you made up to score points.

But if somebody downloads the data, and they can track the source to your computer, do they even have to decrypt it on your computer? (I mean does law enforcement have to decrypt it on your computer, or could they just indirectly prove you hosted the data).

The anonymized routing prevents them from tracking the source to your computer.

If someone downloads something on Freenet they don't know where it is coming from.

> Sure it's encrypted but try to explain that to your local law enforcement.

But how will they read it if even you can't?

They might've purchased a decryption key from some dark corner of the internet and after failing to trace the money to the bad-guy they're now hoping to track him down by IP address. Probably it would surface in court that you're not the bad guy they're after, but who knows what kind of bad things they'll do to you in the meantime.

They might own the legendary key that turns your seemingly random data into very illegal data.

plot twist: It's an one-time pad to xor your data against.

(and of course, they wouldn't generate it from XORing your data against illegal data...)

Well this is a terrifying idea. Is this a hypothetical or do we know of an instance where such a “key” was invented?

Most cop-tech is just plausible-deniability for jury who are not tech-aware. Dogs, polygraphs, informational pre-crime tools.

In around 1900 i think.

It's simple for anyone to create an xor "key" for anything.

I phrased my comment poorly. Do we know of a case where cops or prosecutors have actually faked such a “key”? If so, it’s terrifying that you could have any encrypted data, with cops and their invented xor “keys” claiming your data is whatever they want it to be.

Or that you could have unencrypted data, that cops could xor into illegal data.

I bet you’re just using those unencrypted images to hide evil stuff with steganography! We found illegal content by xoring our totally not invented xor "keys" with the noise in your JPEGs!

I don't know of any widespread consumer encryption tools that use a one time pad. For comparison, a standard RSA key is 4kb.

But how good is a phone call.... if you cannot speak.

Aaron Jones (a cop) literally gave an introduction to his local Linux Usergroup to Freenet explaining what it is and how much he loves it. You can find that on the Freenet Project's website.

You're only going to have a few encrypted chunks of a given file in your datastore, you don't know what the file chunks are when put together or the key used to decrypt it. Information is neutral on Freenet. You would NOT get in trouble just for running a Freenet node in any sane/ free country in the world. If you go out of your way to use Freenet for something illegal, that's another matter entirely.

If you're paranoid, just use a VPN or install it to a VPS and SSH into it.

How is it better than I2P: https://geti2p.net?

Upd: found this: https://geti2p.net/en/comparison/freenet.

My understanding is that:

-- i2p was originally a fork of freenet

-- Freenet was designed and conceived as a datastore, fist and foremost, whereas i2p using 'garlic routing' was apt for any IP protocol proxied over it (a bit like tor)

-- Freenet therefore is more efficient and distributing popular data

-- There are some concerns about the algoirthms behind freenet's anonymity, which i2p claims [1] are troublesome.

-- Incidentally, I have heard complaints about the crypto behind i2p, but I am not expert in this area enough to comment. My understanding is that the consensus is that "tor r is better", but note you can e.g. run freenet over tor if desired.

I played with both as a curious teenager around the time they were released. I am now largely terrified to, because of the prospect of accidentally finding CSAM, which I suspect is very high on both platforms.

[1] https://geti2p.net/en/comparison/freenet

> I am now largely terrified to, because of the prospect of accidentally finding CSAM, which I suspect is very high on both platforms.

Chilling effects in a nutshell.

It's in Bitcoin's blockchain too:


that's bitcoin sv which is not bitcoin

The principle remains, which makes it possible for anyone to do on any blockchain really. Encoding an image into the message of a transaction (or spanned over multiple transactions) should be fairly straightforward even with a simple bitcoin wallet. You should be able to make a CSAM NFT on Ethereum that nobody can expunge, as well.

You're not likely to find child porn on Tor anymore unless you go looking for it. It's there, because Tor is much bigger than Freenet and I2P, but it's out the way. The hidden wikis were all cleaned up years ago. I bet the drug marketplaces thought it was bad for business to be listed alongside that sort of thing.

Freenet is the same as it ever was. I don't think you could play around on there and not find that stuff. Dunno what's going on on I2P these days.

> Freenet is the same as it ever was. I don't think you could play around on there and not find that stuff. Dunno what's going on on I2P these days.

You're very unlikely to find it unless you're looking for it, none of the default indexes allow it.

To find CSAM on Freenet nowadays you have to go out of your way to search for it. All the default index pages (entry points) filter out content that is illegal by itself (as CSAM is), and if you talk about that in FMS or Sone you’ll quickly find your pseudonym blocked by most accounts.

There is one more key difference - I2P has C++ implementation[1] which allows it to be run on the low-performance machines, e.g. routers. It is impossible in case of Java. I wish it had been Rust, though...

[1] https://github.com/PurpleI2P/i2pd

Why would it be impossible to run Java on low performance machines? There have been mobile and embedded Java implementations for literally decades. C++ doesn't magically imbue a program with performance superpowers either.

It's lazy to equate implementation language with performance profile.

> Why would it be impossible to run Java on low performance machines?

In some abstract case - yes, it's possible. In many concrete cases, including I2P, Java-written code is quite resources-consuming for anything close to the router hardware.

In the concrete case, Freenet runs quite well on a Pi3. Just do not activate the Sone- and WoT-plugin (they are quite resource-hungry).

(and already with a Pi4, those resource-hungry plugins are no problem anymore)

I've used heavily I2P and Freenet both.

To answer your question, better? Neither I2P nor Freenet claim to be inherently better than the other. It depends entirely on what you are using Freenet or I2P for.

I2P is like Tor but internal (it does not mainly anonymize clearnet traffic, think onionland) and it is anonymous by default. How anonymous? Theoretically as anonymous as Tor. You can use I2P for torrents and filesharing, pretty fast irc, etc. To host an eepsite (I2P site) you have to run a server and keep it running as long as you want the site to be up, similar to running a Tor hidden service or any server on the clearnet.

Freenet has a lot more static content (no JavaScript), reminds one of the early internet (in a good way, mostly). Hosting of freesites (Freenet sites) and files is distributed, no need to run a server to have your site up. There is no 'delete' button on Freenet either. Files/ sites are deleted when no one accesses them for a time. Popular content stays forever. Sites under 2MB in size typically stay forever. Freenet is not anonymous by default, you need to know people IRL who use it to create a friend-to-friend darknet for it to be anonymous. I use mine with a VPN.

Both networks are great, lots of cool people use them. I use FMS a lot (Freenet Message System, similar to Usenet) and Sone. When I use I2P I usually host a few eepsites and hang around Irc2p (I2P's irc). I recommend installing and using both. They're both great.

They are different things. I2P is a transport layer, freenet is a (imo weird) combination of transport layer and distributed storage. So, running IRC over freenet (for instance) isn't a thing. Personally my take is that freenet is conceptually not as interesting as running bittorrent over i2p, but YMMV.

Freenet implements low latency queue and allows for near-realtime communication over distributed storage. Specifically, “IRC over Freenet” WAS made long time ago. You get modem-like delays and bandwidth, but is this a problem? Trying to use it when someone is actively searching for you is a different story, because there's a balance between sending data and being detectable.

TIL, my mistake. Thank you!

Not wanting to attack here, just wanting to add more info:

IRC over Freenet is actually in use today: It is called FLIP and has 1 minute round trip times. Which is shorter than what people typically notice (except if they actively measure it), because most take longer to type their answers than FLIP needs to deliver it.

You're mostly right. There is FLIP (basically irc for Freenet) but as you can imagine it's very slow. No such thing as instant messaging on Freenet. You can theoretically stream live video at low resolution (with a large delay) but it's not really designed for dynamic content.

Without getting into which are better for now, are these the only two options for this concept right now?

From the second link you posted:

> The two primary differences between Tor / Onion-Routing and I2P are again related to differences in the threat model and the out-proxy design.

This is the first paragraph. No further explanation is given about this point. The fact that it says "are again related..." suggests that the page used to have another paragraph before this one, that was later removed?

I would like to read about the different threat model and about the out-proxy design, anyone has sources?

There is always Tor

how is it different to Tor project?

Tors not really “P2P” right? It bounces you around between 7 nodes so you don’t even know the peer you’re connecting to

To make this short:

wget 'http://ftp.lysator.liu.se/pub/freenet/fred-releases/build014...' -O new_installer_offline.jar;

java -jar new_installer_offline.jar

If you want Freenet on a server:

java -jar new_installer_offline.jar -console

Everyone wants absolute free speech until their platform is taken over by conspiracy freaks, white supremacists, nazis, and anti vaxxers...

And then you find out, whether your moderation works.

Point in case: On Freenet it does. But I had to close down my youtube comments on my channel completely when they discovered my youtube-Account. Because it’s the clearnet where moderation sucks.

Its actually scaling, fully decentralized moderation system is how Freenet keeps communication friendly with actual pseudonymity and privacy protection: https://www.draketo.de/english/freenet/friendly-communicatio...

The two top comments are of people complaining about csam content floating around freenet

As usual. And they wrongly claim that you find that by chance. Reality is: You don’t, except if you go searching for it. Just like in the clearnet.

I know some of the words you used.

No, I definitely want absolute free speech so folks can safely talk about taboo subjects. Not being able to have a forum to discuss taboo subjects is a creeping evil, IMO.

What exactly is a taboo subject?

Don't forget about activists and competition posting illegal content and then reporting it.

Just because I don't agree with Nazis who want to take my guns away, doesn't mean I want to censor them. It's much more useful to engage with them and get into an open discussion. I stand up for their right to say whatever they like because it's a foundational human right. Think old ACLU or NPR before they went full authoritarian and now fully embrace censorship.

If the question is WHO to censor, I've always thought the solution is not at the server side but on the client side. Any platform where sensitive topics are being discussed (conspiracies for example) is going to be spammed, trolled, forum slided, etc. The solution is to have filtering on the client side take away the spam. Similar to how you have ad lists which block adsense, googleanalytics, etc. Allow ALL speech, and then filter out just the ones you want. Much better than having a tyrannical government or corrupt media or powerful tech giants do it for me.

That's nice theory. In practice, however, I'd like to see you try to engage them (as you put it), and have a nice, civil, productive exchange with white supremacists.

I see a lot of people here comparing Freenet with I2P and I know that these are historically tied together but I would say that it would make a lot more sense to compare Freenet with IPFS, as both are content network, while I2P is more like Tor than Freenet, an overlay transport network.

I don't know how Freenet works well so I'm not sure how it differs from IPFS, I would really like to see some kind of comparison table on how they do things.

I read the basic difference to be anonymity of the user. Which freenet protects by design but has therefore spam and DoS to deal with. Whereas IPFS doesn't have those problems, but also no privacy.

Man, I’ve been following Freenet for a long time (20 years now?) - I want it to work, but every time I try it, it’s just too slow to be feasible. Slower than old dial-up internet.

Make sure to increase your bandwidth in Core Settings. The recent installers ask (or calculate) how much bandwidth you want to use. Both Freenet and I2P historically assumed you are using Alaskan dial-up when you first install. Freeenet is slow, but it shouldn't be that slow.

Still haven solved the CSAM problem, so the public servers are off limits. The private infrastructure solution always looked interesting to me, but I'm missing any actual application ideas for that?

I've been using Freenet for 12 years and have not run into CSAM involuntarily, and of course also not voluntarily!

So I don't know how you get the impression that "public servers are off limits"?

It is possible that CSAM exists in certain forums on Freenet which might indicate the specific goal of sharing CSAM by their name.

But if it were to be posted into non-CSAM forums then the community's web of trust would flag it as spam and thus make it disappear. So you're unlikely to just run into CSAM involuntarily.

Also, IMHO saying "public / private servers" in the context of Freenet is wrong because Freenet is not organized into "servers". Basically the whole of Freenet is connected into one big public network.

And it addresses files, not machines: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28588336

"Private" happens in terms of a file being "private" if you don't share the link to it with anyone.

(A separate Freenet network which is fully private would be possible if every participant configures his instance to not connect to the outside. But one participant disobeying that and it is not private anymore, so it's unlikely that such networks exist.)

I downloaded Freenet during the post-Snowden privacy craze since the concept of a decentralized anonymous network interested me. Here’s my experience circa ~2014:

1. Installed Freenet

2. Clicked on the site directory from the Freenet home page to see what sites are out there

3. Saw links to child pornography sites on the site directory

4. Uninstalled Freenet

I hope this has been addressed, it’s sickening how the network seemed to be mainly used by pedophiles.

So the issue was that the default bookmarks contained a site directory - "index" in Freenet terminology - which was not properly filtered by its author.

IIRC Freenet's current policy is to only add indexes to the default bookmarks if their authors do label them as filtered.

Perhaps this was a slip-up of whoever the anonymous maintainer of the index was.

It is also possible that in the past the bookmarks contained both the filtered version of an index as well as another one of the same index which was explicitly labeled as unfiltered with a big warning. Then the users could decide on their own if they want filtered content or unfiltered content for the sake of avoiding censorship.

In any case: The default bookmarks are here, you can check the git history yourself:


How do you expect it to be addressed? By its very nature, a decentralized anonymous content network like this is highly resistant to all forms of censorship. This includes CSAM removal. It's like crypto - it's either strong or it isn't, you can't have strong crypto with backdoors for when "somebody must do something".

I had the very same experience. It made me realise I couldn’t run a node in good faith because I did not want my computer distributing such stuff or aiding people that want to do that.

It’s a shame but it’s a pattern - if you make untraceable communication platforms, people will use them for that.

> the network seemed to be mainly used by pedophiles

It is not clear how that statement can emerge from the mere observations above it. Are you telling the full story?

About a quarter of all the comments above yours, other threads, etc, mention the same thing, this smells like astroturfing, but it is unclear by who.

You can send illegal stuff by post, FedEx, BitTorrent, pgp encryption, etc. Who cares?

No, I've meant exactly what I've meant. There is an experience of seeing some links, and there's a conclusion that the network is mainly used by pedophiles. Even if all the data was 100% child porn (which is technically impossible, but whatever), I still can't see how the former transforms into the latter.

Or maybe it was just parroting the “common knowledge”. Another kind of common knowledge is that law enforcement from multiple countries has been arresting people for about ten years now because Freenet is far from perfect pedophile heaven. I guess there is common knowledge one prefers to use, and the common knowledge one prefers to overlook.

To put it bluntly, there is a lot of thought put into Freenet, and a lot of work, and a lot of discussions of how things should work, and a lot of uncommon practical solutions invented for truly serverless communication, and some general ideas why it is needed at all. When a casual idler shows interest in none of these, but hurries to find child porn, and with deep satisfaction proclaims “Eww, the whole place is dirty!”, it is OK to point out that there is zero understanding in that.

Because default index sites have always been filtered — and I can vouch for that, — to see something outrageous one had to actively look for something outrageous. Keep it in mind when reading all those comments.

Sorry this is nonsense, seeing something outrageous within seconds of getting on freenet was also my experience about 15 years ago, and I certainly didn’t go looking for it.

Things may have improved on the common indexes since then, I’ve not been back to check, but you seek to whitewash and diminish the problem which is not great either.

I'm not whitewashing, I'm trying to make people reflect on their reasoning.

What exactly is the problem? That child exploitation exists, or that you are reminded that it exists (and prefer not to be reminded)? It doesn't stop from you not using Freenet, and it doesn't stop from everyone not using Freenet (for anything). If you believe that it's only good for child porn, it's your opinion; others might think differently.

For some reason, people find a simple idea that you need to tolerate people you don't approve of because other people also tolerate you hard to get. Freenet is basically a technical implementation of Voltaire's quote — and any real censorship-resistant network will be same.

> I'm not whitewashing

Of course you are, you're outright denying people's reported experiences - "to see something outrageous one had to actively look for something outrageous."

As for the rest, I'm not making any particular claims here, just pointing out that yours seem to be driven by agenda more than reality.

The original claims that freenet is mostly used for CSAM might not be supportable either (in fact they may never be supportable, given the nature of freenet and how it works), but you go too far the other way.

Ya this whole thread is weird. Either 1) peoples opinions about the net have changed drastically in a very short amount of time 2) this thread is an anomaly 3) This thread is being turfed

All of these make me uneasy

People's opinions about the net may well be changing, and things like logging on to the hot freedom-preserving tool to be presented in short order with child sexual abuse may be part of that.

Other things that have changed my opinions about the nature of speech on the internet are what's happening with american politics, anti-vaccination conspiracies and a bunch of other instances in which our wonderful tools of mass communication cause negative outcomes, either through directed propaganda or through simply connecting hoards of morons together.

Tech utopianism seems to be waning.

> But if it were to be posted into non-CSAM forums then the community's web of trust would flag it as spam and thus make it disappear. So you're unlikely to just run into CSAM involuntarily.

But how can a censorship-resistant network make certain content disappear? Isn't that impossible by design on Freenet, except by the slow, unreliable process of all nodes purging the data?

It works because every user can choose their own moderators: You choose on your own whom to trust to filter out the disruptive stuff.

And it’s optimized so you have much less work for that than on the clearnet. On Freenet Spam- and Disruption-prevention actually scales better than spamming.

Ah I see. So the content will still be there as long as people store/access it, but you can filter it out by subscribing to filter-lists? Got it, thanks.

Can you also filter out certain content (by means of hashes I suppose) that you don't want to personally host (not even as partial chunks) but allow everything else?

Yes to the first.

To the second no: In Freenet 0.5 there was a plugin for that, but for 0.7 this has not been written yet.

You can write that, but you cannot check what exactly it would block. Whom do you trust to censor you? The devs cannot make that judgement. And who will control the censors? You would need a list of all chunks to block (by their routing key).

You can't solve "the CSAM problem." Anything robust to censorship has this issue. Just don't look for it.

Do you know FreeChat? That’s a messenger for android over Freenet (currently in pre-beta but working) which uses Freenet to provide privacy on the level needed for medical data: https://github.com/DennisRein/free-chat-2

Interestingly, Freenet hasn't migrated away from Freenode. Mind you, there is no affiliation between these two projects, AFAIK.

There is a merged pull request to migrate to libera.chat, it seems it just has not been deployed to the webserver yet:


I would blindguess that this was caused by Travis CI shutting down its free service for open source, the website was deployed using Travis IIRC.

This should be easy to set up with Github Actions, here is an example where it builds some Kotlin documentation and deploys to Github Pages: https://github.com/kwebio/kweb-core/blob/master/.github/work...

Yes. Nextgens has it planned and will be on it once he has the time.

If you want to file a pull request, that would be very welcome!

The new chat is https://web.libera.chat/?nick=FollowTheRabbit|?#freenet

Maybe Freenet people are chatting on FMS?

Some HN users are stuck in an interesting privacy paradox. Most of the time when a company or government tries to undermine privacy or encryption they jump at the throat and point out the need for both.

However, it seems when we actually accomplish those goals and create systems that are truly anonymous, private and/or encrypted they basically say it's only for criminals and child abuse.

There is a feature in English to call the same thing different words depending on one's moral judgement towards them. Shooting a person dead is a "kill" if a homeowner has defended himself from a burglar, but a "murder" if the burglar has fired first. My language for comparison only uses a single word, regardless of circumstances.

That's where the paradox has to be coming from. When they say "end censorship" they mean "prevent filtering that we don't want to happen" (like whistleblowing). But at the same time they absolutely totally want NOT to prevent filtering they want to happen (like drugs, child porn, terrorism, etc). It's only censorship if they don't want it, if they want it that's not censorship that's a different word.

It's like saying it's a candy if it's intended to be eaten, but a toy if it's intended to be had, and then expecting to eat the candy and have the toy.

I think when most people talk about "ending censorship" they are talking very specifically about speech. Any link between the idea of speech and the sharing of child abuse material or drug marketplaces is extremely tenuous. Most non-anarchists agree that there are reasonable limits that must be placed on behaviors and enforced by governments. Trying to claim "not letting me buy drugs online is censorship" feels like little more than mental gymnastics.

How do you allow government to enforce one thing (block illegal drug sales) while simultaneously preventing it from enforcing another (censorship)?

> at the same time they absolutely totally want NOT to prevent filtering they want to happen

I'm sure there's a lot of this about, but the situation with freenet is more complex than that. When you run a freenet node, you are storing data on behalf of others, and you don't have access to that data so you don't know what it is.

It's one thing believing that speech should be free, but that's a different thing to believing that individuals should be forced into storing and sharing speech they disagree with.

It's that extra level of potential complicity in speech you find objectionable that makes freenet more problematic, and that makes accusations of hypocrisy a little unfair.

There's another side here. Some don't like companies and governments chipping away at privacy. At the same time, they don't trust Shiny New Privacy Startup 2021 to not expose them to illegal material as a result of being overrun by bad actors. I would personally rather an established organization to respect my privacy, rather than move to a new platform that does not have the resources to protect me from liability.

Freenet has been in development for 21 years.

Time really is irrelevant if you lack the resources to deal with issues quickly and effectively.

Like most things in the world there needs to be a middle ground/balance between allowing the government and corps to invade your privacy and allowing individuals to share child porn/etc with one another. I do not believe it is either or.

The balance has been that the cops can take you into custody when there is suspicion against you, but if you’re not suspected of a heinous crime, they are not allowed to read your diary.

In the past decade that has been shifting more and more towards “the cops can break open every device you have just in case you may someday do something illegal”.

But if they can install physical surveillance, all security is already moot. That is the balance that works.

But that is no longer enough. They want to have cheaper surveillance of everyone instead. Surveillance that is cheap enough to be used on everyone.

And they promise they will totally not abuse that. Or send your address to violent extremist groups that are pissed at you because you exposed their activities. As happened to more than one journalist in Germany who investigated Nazis.

Are you sure those are the same people?

One problem is that the privacy invading and censorous systems work 99% of the time ... sucking away most of the market, which is boring usage, and leave the alternatives concentrated in "other stuff", much of which is undesirable.

This is a good point. Censorship-resistance sounds good in theory, but when you actually think about it there is certain stuff that everybody would agree needs to be censored.

When you actually think of it, it's impossible to design systems that are capable of such "good" censorship without also being open to all the other kind. Experience has also shown that, when such capacity exists, its use expands over time. And some of us have decided that the long-term social damage from that far exceeds the damage from any information that could be effectively censored.

If everyone agrees that it needs to be censored, then who is posting it?

A lot of people? Sure.

Everybody? Not really, some people are really vocal about how "data wants to be free".

There is no privacy paradox. HN types aren't actually opposed to censorship and surveillance. They just think they should be the ones doing it.

It's a good thing that the legacy tech scene that the loud, high-karma moral busybodies on this site represent is becoming hated, bypassed, and ultimately irrelevant.

Can you give some examples of individual HN users who've said both things?


I am the walrus?

That’s what happens when a problem isn’t black and white.

For the vast majority of people, some degree of censorship is deemed a necessary evil..

Where do you draw the line when freenet evolves to be more than just free speech and starts seeing morally reprehensible services pop up..

Same question, but for the telephone.

Are you under the impression that phone calls are open season or something? There are tons of laws regulating what you can and can’t do on the phone.

What is an example of something that is legal to do in person, but illegal to do on a telephone call?

…and its development has been exponentially decaying to zero for years. Mostly because of unsolved social problems (uneducated public doesn't understand they need real anonymous systems, and happily use corporate junk marketed as “private and secure”, while educated public dreams about making the next fart button app for the millions, and selling their data), but also because readily accessible public network gives too much power to dedicated observers to be safe in current political climate (which has been known for 15 years, yada yada).

Still, no one has made anything more advanced and educational. Which is quite sad, as these are still the ideas on anonymous communication from the '90s and early 2000s. A whole generation has probably gone down the drain, and did not do any work.

> uneducated public doesn't understand they need real anonymous systems

I really don't like this wording. How are you so sure that they NEED real anonymous systems? I understand the value of privacy, but I don't think I get to dictate what other people NEED.

Some time ago, some people believed they needed a glass of wine, a ten course meal, and a charming beauty to whom to read poems, and that those backwards peasants in the fields could understand none of these needs, and only needed to get whipped regularly, just in case.

So I'm all for dictating that everyone need everything.

Can't just pin the blame on this on the public. These tools have a horrible UX problem. I tried to connect to freenet last year and I literally couldn't work it out. The GUI didn't make much sense, I couldn't work out where I was meant to go to browse content. I think I found it but nothing would load. Apparently I was meant to configure proxy settings in my browser??

I then went to the IRC, reddit and wiki and ether got nothing back or nothing useful. Eventually gave up.

Vs something like IPFS where you just run the software and localhost becomes your portal to the network and you can even access files as a basic file path via the FUSE mount.

Edit: Clarifying that I was using an unofficial build for freenet which may have made it harder.

> I tried to connect to freenet last year and I literally couldn't work it out.

Sorry but that must have been a bug or misconfiguration on your machine:

It should connect to the network by default without any tinkering.

Perhaps you didn't pay close attention to the first-time wizard and told it to only connect to manually chosen peers instead of connecting to random strangers? If you then don't add peers manually you won't have any connections.

> The GUI didn't make much sense, I couldn't work out where I was meant to go to browse content.

The default feature is browsing HTML content just like on the regular web.

By default it ships some bookmarks to "index" sites, i.e. sites which list links to plenty of other sites.

Those bookmarks should be right at the main page of the UI at

I was using some unofficial packages since installing java on my system is difficult so I used the first flatpak and the first docker image I found on google and neither of them shipped an included browser and it seemed like the way was to make firefox work with it but I could not work that out.

It's been too long for me to remember the exact details but if I couldn't work out how to make it run as a long time linux and p2p user, I can't see how the average user could.

Yeah there are no official flatpaks or docker images so you were using 3rd-party software and this is not Freenet's fault :)

Perhaps you can update your topmost post to mention that?

The official installers are here: https://freenetproject.org/pages/download.html

Thanks for clarifying though!

Offering only a Java installer, of all things from the increasingly distant past, wholly divorced from any semblance on how most anyone wants to install or use software these days, is 100% a choice the freenet project made and entirely that project’s fault.

This type of uncaring about the user experience nonsense is exactly the type of issue that the person you’re replying to is sharing about their experience.

Do you want to help fix the debian installer? Freenet has been providing a Gentoo package for years. Other distributions need more work. If you have the skills, then please help updating the debian package! https://github.com/freenet/debian

These days you just ship it in a flatpak which is easy to install on any system. Distro specific packaging is a relic these days.

A pull-request (or repo) with a flatpak recipe would be very welcome, too.

Though distro-packaging in Guix is still far superior to a flatpak, because it gives the freedom of flatpaks but integrates much better.

Freenet development is NOT dead! :)

I have been contributing for ~ 12 years and now have acquired long-term funding (independent of Freenet's own funding!) to continue my contributions in a more intense fashion.

The core network which serves static HTML sites + audio/video is stable and usable. It has a bunch of reliable long-term contributors working on it.

Hence development on my personal side is focused on polishing existing dynamic applications which are built on top of Freenet, and implementing some new ones.

Basic implementations of notably forums, social networking, blogging and mail exist already, the goal is to make them easy to use (integrate them into the main UI instead of being standalone), add much more features, improve performance and security.

Here's a list of these and dozens of other apps built on Freenet: https://github.com/freenet/wiki/wiki/Projects

Developing dynamic stuff is taking so long because it is a complex endeavor:

On the regular Internet, censorship happens by "look up who owns the IP, go to their address, remove the computer."

Since this is not possible on Freenet as everyone is anonymous, censorship will happen by denial of service: For example forum systems would be spammed to death to get rid of unwanted content.

Thus the architecture of censorship-resistant systems has to be reinvented from scratch, you can't just take a regular forum system and stick Freenet on top of it.

It has to be decentralized to be resistant against DoS - there must not be Tor-alike central servers ("hidden sites" / .onion sites). Instead messages are stored across the whole network and replicated automatically if they are downloaded more often and thus need more bandwidth (the added redundance also makes them more censorship-resistant).

And spam filtering need to be a first-class application, I have worked for years only on that.

So the different architecture is the primary pitfall which many projects which decided "Freenet is too old, we're gonna build this from scratch with nice Javascript etc." fell into IMHO: First it's "we'll develop a regular app, we can bolt Tor onto it later", then they realize that the threat-model is so different that this is just not possible and the projects never become anonymous/censorship-resistant.

So privacy needs to be built in from the start.

Luckily, Freenet did that right (even though it was the first anti-censorship + privacy network!), and I don't mind that it's taking decades to develop because of the extended threat model:

That's still better than being one of wheel-reinventing post-Freenet projects which then abandon the privacy idea in the end anyway, or postpone it forever.

> Luckily, Freenet did that right (even though it was the first anti-censorship + privacy network!)

This isn't even close to true.

There are many networks that predate you, provide real anonymity, and still remove the child pornography that would otherwise taint them and their maintainers.

You just play games with the definition of censorship.

When people tell you "you shouldn't be the vendor of the sexual abuse of children," you try to turn it into a censorship issue. Like people somehow have the right to publish this.

Except they don't, and you've become so addicted to a decade of hiding behind that shield that you don't realize what a villain it has actually turned you into.

The reason the other networks exist is that people actually to want privacy, but they won't shame themselves by swimming in your child pornography filled pool.

Stop telling us the way to fix your network is to participate, and water the numbers down.

Fix your miserable problem.

If you had read what the poster said you’d know that they are fixing the problem. And already did a lot to fix it.

How would you comment on the design of zeronet ?

why do you care what a vendor of child pornography thinks of other designs

Any tech can be abused, but the tech itself is generic for both good and bad usage.

Freenet as a censorship resistant tool had potential a long time ago, through in my view the failure points had more to do with the design and the positioning in the censorship resistant tool chain than with the unsolved problems. A shared "data store" that shuffles its pieces around was a good idea in theory, but torrents without any privacy did a better job of being a shared data store. Copyright enforcement has been too slow and ineffective to push people into using Freenet.

Tor won over most of the anti-censorship users of Freenet by adding hidden services. The model of servers and clients seemed to be easier to model around than a shared data store, for reason that might have to do with how websites on internet has moved on from the 90's and early 2000s.

I am unsure if the concept of a anonymized and censorship resistant shared data store has a place in the future. If copyright enforcement actually become effective in stopping torrenting, then maybe Freenet will see a renewal (possible as a patch to the torrent protocol). Hopefully without java.

Nowadays you can actually see privacy-dependant services test Freenet. To quote research from Bern university who do health data exchange research: “This broker is based on the peer-to-peer network Freenet. This network has been defined to be censorship resistant and to protect the privacy of persons sharing data. This covers the needs for protection expected from a secure data broker.” https://www.igi-global.com/chapter/using-freenet-as-a-broker...

I agree, and it's frankly hard to believe that our governments didn't have some hand in shaping that future. The further you follow the cryptography and anonymity paper trail, the more often you run into intelligence agencies. In some ways, it wouldn't surprise me if our current "big tech" paradigm is being relentlessly funded and propped-up by the United States in some way or another. As more and more users get herded into silos like TikTok and Facebook, the stage is being set for international-scale data warfare.

No need to speculate, we know that governments had a direct role in this thanks to the Snowden revelations.

Governments have structured financial markets heavily to favor large publicly traded corporations through allowing them access to massive amounts of borderline free credit.

The goal is growth and consolidation. They want every major industry to be completely dominated by a small handful of big players. This makes it much easier to regulate and implement policy.

It would be impossible for them to have nearly the same amount of control over a economy if the economy was dominated by hundreds or thousands of small and medium players. By having 3 or 4 major public corporations they are much more easier to manipulate and keep tabs on. They can 'invite them to the table' to advise and help draft policy and regulations that are mutually beneficial. Also it makes it much easier to convince the public that such regulation is done for the public's benefit.

This model of American State Corporatism was developed in the late 19th, early 20th century and has since been exported across the world.

It is a pattern that is repeated over and over again. Whether it's automobile manufacturing, steel manufacturing, railway transportation, television broadcasting, ISPs, or Social Media.. once the government set it's sites on regulating it you will see markets devolve into 3-5 major corporate players that pretty much control everybody else. All of this heavily encouraged through regulation of capital markets and central banking systems.

The classic pre-internet example is the development of AT&T monopoly. FCC used it's ability to regulate peering agreements to heavily favor the markets towards re-establishing the AT&T monopoly. A monopoly that they essentially lost when the early Bell patents ran out.

They were then able to use that monopoly, through regulatory forces, to gain control over the communication infrastructure during the cold war, which was a national security priority. That is how we ended up with things like Room 641A. (which was in 2003-later era, but is something they did through out the entire cold war)

History repeated itself with the Prism revelations.

The release this year adds streaming video on demand over Freenet and fixes the pitch black attack.

And confidential Friend-to-Friend Chat over Freenet as Android App.

Last year saw Freenet ported to Android.

There are a lot of changes still in the pipeline to be released this year.

Loopix - https://arxiv.org/abs/1703.00536 Nym (Loopix but using blockchain for users to pay nodes) - https://nymtech.net/nym-whitepaper.pdf


Freenet generally has peers act as file stores. This presents some concerns people would have, but also presents an interesting question:

With the existence of crypto that requires large disk spaces to mine coins, could you abuse freenet for this goal?

I'd say no because freenet storage depends on popularity of the files.

If nobody is interested to download your files, which they wouldn't be because they are undecryptable blobs, then very soon you will be the only one storing those files, and you have gained nothing from making them available on freenet, but you have wasted your own bandwidth by uploading them.

Also it would be horribly slow as far as storage goes compared to a hard drive.

I’ve never heard about disk space as a relevant constraint on crypto mining. Do you mind elaborating or sharing a link or term I can search?

Probably https://www.chia.net/ , a crypocurrency that uses "Proof of Space and Time" (prove you've stored stuff on disk) rather than proof of work.

Chia Coin miners use hard drive space as proof of work.

No. The data being stored as proof of work cannot be useful, otherwise it's not "work".

Hm... This is of course "arguing semantics", which some people for some reason seem to think is a trump[§] card to declare a counter-argument irrelevant, but still: Another way to look at that leads to the direct opposite: If it doesn't yield a useful result, it's not "work" but frivolous waste.


[§]: Eurgh.

I wouldn't say it's a semantic argument, it's just that the semantics are a bit overloaded. The stored data is useful as a "proof of work" in the cryptocurrency sense, but it's not useful in every other sense of the word, i.e. it's not used to represent meaningful information like like text, application binaries, images, audio etc.

Yeah, back when I was a kid I couldn't come beaming to my dad and expect praise for "Dad! Dad! I dug four holes today and then filled them up again, haven't I done good work?!" I'd have got not only a "That's not 'work', you idiot! Work is useful -- that was wasted effort!", but most probably a clip around the ear, too. And those are the norms I've internalised, so that's how my semantics swing: This whole crypto shit is inherently morally repugnant to me, because it's based on proof of waste.

I wonder if Freenet is used for anything but super illegal stuff, and sheer curiosity?

This isn’t to say privacy and escaping the bottleneck of traditional internet isn’t compelling. But I’ve yet to see a use case for Freenet.

You can't see any use case for a private and censorship-resistant publishing platform that isn't illegal? Okay, pretending for a moment that privacy and censorship-resistance aren't good ends unto themselves: Whistleblowing, publishing something perfectly legal but which political or corporate interests don't want published, and publishing or reading LGBT+ content in a political, social, or family situation that would disapprove.

I didn’t say I can’t see a use case, did I? I asked if people use it for that. You simply never hear from people praising Freenet as a tool for censorship resistance. Nowhere near the same awareness as TOR or even Secure Scuttlebutt.

> I didn’t say I can’t see a use case, did I?

Although I think I'm following what you meant now, it's very easy to read

> But I’ve yet to see a use case for Freenet.

exactly like that; I didn't realize that you were asking for documented real world instances.

Yeah, but, is anybody actually using it for that?

Or is it just used for criminality, in practice?

And if it is, so what? Plenty of things are illegal around the world that shouldn't be. In some countries, homosexuality is a crime. In some, atheism is a crime. In some, ingesting harmless substances is a crime.

When the original question is whether it's used for non-"super illegal" stuff, I don't think that includes things that are legal in most countries.

The original question is misleading, because it's asked from the perspective of somebody privileged wrt not having their opinions, beliefs, or topics of interest suppressed.

(Which, of course, is often a temporary state of affairs - the means of censorship are the same regardless of their target, so the more pervasive they are, the more chances that they'll be used against people who did not anticipate themselves being targets.)

But even if you go by this arbitrarily restricted definition, there's still one item on my list that is not legal in most countries.

> But even if you go by this arbitrarily restricted definition, there's still one item on my list that is not legal in most countries.

The harmless substances? You can't ingest those via ethernet, so I skipped that one on purpose.

And in some, playing video game or music are illegal

How would you know if someone shared data with someone else (using any kind of communication system, not just anonymous) without telling you? How would you gather statistics of such transfers?

Some time ago, certain people used Freenet to transfer enormous amounts of data (for such a small network) in the open, and most users did not notice, and it rarely got mentioned (if at all). So when people state they have estimates of network usage, I get really skeptical.

Nobody has stated they have any estimates of anything, but this is a really defensive response to the mere suggestion that it might be good to know if the network is used for criminality or not.

In simple terms, if someone has uploaded a picture of a cat to a non-public Freenet key, and someone downloaded it, both you and I have no way to learn about it unless we can spy on those users or flood the network with spying nodes to the point of logging each piece of data, and deducing that these two people exchanged something. Even theoretically, we can only make assumptions about publicly announced data (freesites and message systems), and then try to estimate the proportion of communication that happens in the dark.

And people often make wrong assumptions.

So you are telling me that it is hard to find out if running a Freenet node will help criminals, or decent people.

That does not really do much to convince me running it is a good thing, you know?

I didn't think I was convincing anyone to run anything, just explaining that this approach wouldn't work. Moreover, there's always a possibility that you, a “decent person” can become a “criminal” one day, and, counter-intuitively, that's when you want the laws to work and be equal for everyone, not when you're a “decent person”.

But it doesn't need to be so dramatic. Like most of the people on this site, you probably use more or less cheap broadband or mobile internet at home. The reason it's much cheaper than a dedicated line to your location is because a lot of people in your area want an internet connection, too (and they don't use it fully, or all at the same time, etc.), so there's a great deal of ISP infrastructure sharing. So you help your neighbor in having a cheap internet access, and your neighbor helps you.

What if one of your neighbors is a maniac who streams killing people, or a botnet owner, or a military drone operator working from home, or just a domestic abuser? Have you asked your provider to only join the “decent people” network? If not, you are actively helping bad people right now.

> What if one of your neighbors is a maniac who streams killing people, or a botnet owner, or a military drone operator working from home, or just a domestic abuser? Have you asked your provider to only join the “decent people” network? If not, you are actively helping bad people right now.

But they weren't asking about whether the network had some users doing "super-illegal" things. They asked if it was roughly all the users. So that analogy isn't even close to fitting.

You mean that helping some cold-blooded killers is okay, but after their percentage reaches some tipping point, it becomes too much of a headache? I can't say that I agree with that moral.

One of the central ideas of Freenet (and some other projects) is that you don't know what exactly you transfer. Moreover, if you could discern “good content” from “bad content” in some general or specific fashion, you would instantly be forced to do so according to numerous laws.

If we followed that path, all bittorrent clients would get outlawed long ago (we all know certain businesses have always wanted that).

> You mean that helping some cold-blooded killers is okay, but after their percentage reaches some tipping point, it becomes too much of a headache? I can't say that I agree with that moral.

Participating in society inevitably helps some cold-blooded killers.

But I wouldn't deliberately help out a group made of cold-blooded killers.

So I think that moral makes sense. Which part would you disagree with?

> If we followed that path, all bittorrent clients would get outlawed long ago (we all know certain businesses have always wanted that).

Well, if I was strongly anti-piracy I sure wouldn't run a bittorrent client that helps relay anonymous chunks between other users. I don't think we need to involve legality in this discussion, that just complicates things.

No, the fate of bittorrent software is set in stone with that reasoning. “It generates how many terabits of piracy transfers per second globally? Across how many pirated works?” BAM! “Authors of torrent clients provide tools almost exclusively used by pirates. Stop or go to jail!” And if you really want that Ubuntu image, wait until your local Linux user group gets the package by international mail. Because your convenience is nothing compared to all that piracy, right?

Maybe you just want to say that all Freenet users are pedophiles. Maybe you want to think that all Freenet users are pedophiles to not think about other things. Maybe you want to state that “normal person” has no reason to use (and won't ever have to consider using) anything like it. It's your choice, thank you very much.

> Maybe you just want to say that all Freenet users are pedophiles. Maybe you want to think that all Freenet users are pedophiles to not think about other things. Maybe you want to state that “normal person” has no reason to use (and won't ever have to consider using) anything like it. It's your choice, thank you very much.

Uh, no.

I just think it sometimes matters what the percent is. And I'm curious what the percent is.

I even ran a pretty stable freenet node at one point, thank you very much.

And you didn't really explain where your moral reasoning differs from mine. I'm not discussing what should be legal...

No, the percentage reasoning is wrong completely. There is a well known novel that ties “acceptable” percentage of suffering “when living in a society”, geometric progression of “good” expected to result from killing someone, and an actual pawn broker whose percent is considered too high to be “fair”. A century and a half later, people still don't get it.

We can make that calculating approach universal. What percent of your neighbors is not good enough in general? What percent of all people on Earth? If we start close inspections, we will find that not a lot of people pass the test… and the rest can inevitably be discarded and excluded. Let's not forget about yourself, what's your percentage? Are you good enough to join other Freenet users? That's the opposite side of original question.

Moral choice can not be calculated, it turns into something else when one does it.

I didn't say you should try to reduce it to a math problem. It's just that you need information before you can make choices.

And I think "there's some kind of fuzzy threshold where you should stop assisting someone" is a much better plan than "never assist anyone" or "always assist anyone, even hitler".

(If you think that's a strawman, you need to explain how the way you do things doesn't fit any of those three options.)

(And I'm not talking about hurting someone, or depriving them of basic human rights. Just not going out of my way to help them do what they want.)

> You mean that helping some cold-blooded killers is okay, but after their percentage reaches some tipping point, it becomes too much of a headache? I can't say that I agree with that moral.

OK, so then you're saying that unless you can prove for sure that NO criminal -- "really bad", actually morally repugnant "criminal" -- activity benefits from Freenet, one shouldn't run it. Great, thanks for the clarification.

Wait til you hear about the criminal justice system. Sometimes lawyers defend guilty people!

Guilty people are supposed to have lawyers.

What lawyers don't do is assist their clients in ongoing breaking of the law.

But why do they need lawyers when it's easy to determine if someone is decent?

It's not easy to judge a single person to a criminal standard.

But big groups of people are much easier to judge when you only care about things like the average, and my own choices don't have to be sure beyond reasonable doubt.

Is your argument here that it is hard to tell if a pedophile is really a bad person or not?

No. Distorting things into disingenuous nonsense helps nothing.

You wrote the original message that it's easy to know if nodes' users are decent people. I'm saying it's not easy, with an example.

One man's criminal is another man's freedom fighter. Snowden is a criminal but his supporters consider him a decent person. I do not believe that the two are mutually exclusive.

The whole point of projects like freenet is to let people communicate data between each other without censorship and without being identified, no matter what that data is. If you disagree with that principle then I believe that freenet is probably not for you.

> That does not really do much to convince me running it is a good thing, you know?

Make sure to block TLS connections on every network that you manage. You don't know what naughty things your users might be doing after all. You would not want to help a criminal, would you?

> Make sure to block TLS connections on every network that you manage. You don't know what naughty things your users might be doing after all. You would not want to help a criminal, would you?

Way not to get the point.

Are you saying the overwhelming majority of users on some network GP manages are using it to do "naughty things"? Yes, then of course GP should shut it down. That's why the question in this sub-thread is "Is this used for other stuff too, or in practice almost exclusively for morally repugnant stuff that I don't want to support?".

If the question can't be answered, that's one thing; then people will have to base their moral judgment of whether to participate or not upon their own more or less educated guess. But most of the proponents here seem not to (want to) even understand the question, and in reply gibber about anything and everything except what was asked. Which makes not only themselves but the very thing they seem to think they're defending come off in a real shitty light.

Way to score an own goal.

No need to be so hostile and toxic. I only mentioned it because this is an actual argument against TLS that I have seen being used in the past, even by popular sites such as pornhub for example (before being forced to enable TLS due to google downranking non-https sites). I also mentioned it because one of the points of TLS is to hide what kind of content is being accessed, so just like freenet you will not know whether most of the traffic is used for naughty things even if you want to, you can only assume. Especially since nowadays http has the Host header and services such as cloudflare are popular, so checking whether a user made a request to a "bad" IP address won't be effective.

"Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize. Assume good faith."

> Yes, then of course GP should shut it down

I would say that this is debatable.

You are saying THAT is the "hostile and toxic" response that is not in good faith, but you are fine with "Make sure to block TLS connections on every network that you manage. You don't know what naughty things your users might be doing after all. You would not want to help a criminal, would you?"

> that is not in good faith

I did not say that. I am sure that CRConrad is acting in good faith.

> but you are fine with

Yes, I explained why I said it in the post that you are replying to. My biggest mistake was using sarcasm to convey the message I guess.

Anyway, it would be nice if you focused on the essence of my post instead of the weak presentation of my last point.

> > that is not in good faith

> I did not say that. I am sure that CRConrad is acting in good faith.

Oh yeah? Quoting the admonition to "Assume good faith" at me in https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28591865 certainly at least strongly implies the opposite.

No, rather, it asks from you to assume good faith from me.

You don't explicitly ask that of everyone you reply to in every one of your replies, do you? So asking it specifically of me strongly implies that you didn't think I did.

Yes? I thought that you did not assume good faith from me. I did not think that you were not acting in good faith.

Not only "fine with"; they wrote it.

> "Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize. Assume good faith."

Yeah, well, sorry, but I really couldn't see much of a stronger interpretation.

I mean, hey, was my take all that much more of "a weaker one that's easier to criticize" than:

>>> Make sure to block TLS connections on every network that you manage. You don't know what naughty things your users might be doing after all. You would not want to help a criminal, would you?

? I'd say no.

Does this actually solve those cases though? If I run one of these in China and talk about the Uighur genocide am I actually safe? Not being sassy I'm actually wondering.

It would definitely be safer to discuss that topic on Freenet than on Weibo or WeChat. China requires websites to be licensed,* so the typical self-hosting route isn't viable.

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ICP_license

But you are not safe to discuss anything on most Chinese smartphones regardless of the App, because common input methods in China (optimized software keyboards) send all your keystrokes to their servers.

Freenet actually warns you about that during installation.

There are ways around that. For example, users can switch to a third-party keyboard, such as TRIME:


In any case, using Freenet is safer than using a platform that is actively monitored by the government and linked to the user's identity.

Freenet currently takes the simpler route of suggesting to use the phones' IME (because that isn’t already proven to send all keystrokes).

It is likely that using Freenet in opennet-mode can get you on a watchlist — but you’re already on that if you wrote here.

There have not been report of actual tracking of Freenet in pure friend-to-friend mode, but there are too few people using it exclusively in that mode to be sure.

Groups of people from very different backgrounds discussing politics for more than a decade without lifting their pseudonyms, in Forums that actually persist while most forums in the clearnet died?

For me that’s a compelling use-case.

If nothing else, many people use it for personal, interpersonal and group communications about perfectly mundane issues, uninteresting to governments, on principle.

(... for some definition of "many".)

What's wrong with illegal stuff? Perhaps you mean to say stuff that your culture shames, abuses or ostracizes people for? In that case, yea, that's why somebody would want to hide their activity.

I never said anything about that. I asked what people use it for and basically if it’s got any traction, besides being an interesting idea.

OK, thanks for clarifying. I misread some subtext in your comment and assumed you were judging illegal activity as not worthy of an internet service.

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