Free communications on the Freenet network.

Price of Freedom

Freenet is licensed under the GPL. The current 0.7 version of Freenet works extremely well, despite its complexity; it is easy to install and well documented. The controls are simple, and the system offers a high degree of security.

Freenet has made much progress since version 0.5, which is still very much in active use; however, this progress has had an effect on upload and download performance for volumes of data above 100MB.

Despite excellent usability, Freenet is still a very complex system that requires serious attention to the topic of anonymity on the part of the user.

If you compare a Freesite's performance with that of an ordinary website, you are bound to be disappointed. But performance is not the most important consideration of the Freenet community. It is Freenet's declared goal to ensure a free exchange of opinions and information even in unfree environments.

Security

Freenet guarantees the confidentiality, anonymity, and authenticity of the data it manages on various levels:

  • Freenet encrypts files on uploading and does not decrypt them until downloaded – the files stored on a node are thus invisible to the operator. This allows the operator to plausibly deny any knowledge of the files.
  • Nodes use encrypted communications – no external third party can discover who requests a key or stores its data.
  • Freenet pads files to fixed size packages – the file size and the number of data packages exchanged do not allow any conclusions on the file content or the path the data takes through the network.
  • Each node only sees its immediate neighbors – no node can tell whether an incoming request originated with the neighbor node that was the immediate source or whether the request is simply being forwarded.
  • When a user requests a file, Freenet copies the file multiple times en route through the network – if a participant switches off his node, this does not necessarily mean that the data stored on it will be lost.
  • Nodes can be configured to connect only to specific nodes, such as nodes run by friends and acquaintances – this means that only trusted persons learn that a participant actually runs a node. A network comprising trust-based connections is referred to as a darknet by the Freenet community.

Conclusion

No one can deny the need for this kind of tool, and on the basis of Freenet's popularity, it looks like the Freenet network has the potential to serve the role of building the foundation for an anonymous Internet.

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