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MR. Z's Mission

Posted by Non-Hamster on February 19th, 2011

Mr z is something of an unusual character.  At first impression even here in Nutjob Hills it's easy to believe that there are not many who are up to his caliber of odd.  But that's just the first impression which is really quite deceptive.

I ran into him in the Nutjob Hills Diner not long ago.  The odd first impression comes mostly from the fact that it's pretty easy to tell that he's gone to some length to disguise his appearance but not far enough to hide the fact that he is disguised.

Over time learned the reason for all the cloak and dagger about him.  You see, he's not from around here.  He's asked me not to say where he is from but I can say that his government keeps a very tight control over what it's citizens are allowed to access on the internet.

This is why, when I saw him for the first time, he was sitting in the diner, huddled over a laptop with a cup of coffee, studying dozens of xpi myotein reviews.  Apparently his government doesn't approve of protein supplements for some mysterious reason and so he was here, learning all he could so that he could send the information back home.

Now several weeks later he's finally loosened up enough to talk about the biggest problem in his country.  The government is very heavily into censorship.  The only media outlets available, radio, tv, print, are all owned by the government.  It's against the law for non-government owned media to exist.  All news, information, even commercials have to be approved by the government or they are never seen or heard by the public.

One of his main objectives was to find a way to be able to move information in and out without being detected.  For people to be able to blog anonymously about what is really going on without their hyper oppressive government being able to trace their identities.

That's when I started telling him about Freenet.  I told him that it's kind of like an internet within the internet, only this inner net takes a lot from p2p filesharing software in that each computer running it is a node that talks to other nodes, sharing the information that has been put into the network.  but that it also goes farther than p2p because in p2p if the computer that puts something into the network goes offline then that information is no longer available.  In freenet this is not the case.  once something is inserted into the network it remains available even after the node that inserted it goes offline.

Then there is the idea of plausible denyability.  Because the content of the network is encrypted and because that content is automatically (and partly at random) copied throughout the network it's impossible to determine where it originated from or who is requesting it.

A simplified look at the way it works is you request some information on Freenet with your client. your node sends out a request to neighboring nodes; if that node has the information, it sends the information to your node, you get it. If your neighboring node doesn't have it, it sends out requests to it's neighboring nodes to see if they have it. this process continues until the information is found.

The principle that makes this all work for illegal information is plausible deniability; the data stored on your node is encrypted, even the node operator cannot know what is stored on their node.

Even if there were a way to show that certain information was obtained from your node, there is no way to prove you are the one that put it there; in fact it is more likely that your node received a request from another node looking for the information, and stored a copy of it as it was passing it along to that other node.

Not only that but the more something is requested, the more copies of it will exist around the network.  This has the effect of insuring that popular data is always easier to get.  In fact, the more demand there is, the easier it becomes to get something.  Freenet is the one system that is perfectly immune to the 'slashdot effect' denial of service attacks that try to overload a server with millions of requests only insure that the item being requested will be very easily available.

Technorati Tags: government run media, information, anonymous blogging, freenet, nutjob hills

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