Open, free and uncensorable websites, using Bitcoin cryptography and BitTorrent network
Vint Cerf, regarded as one of the fathers of internet long back hailed the World Wide Web as a platform which would allow the free flow of information. “Information sharing is power. If you don’t share your ideas, smart people can’t do anything about them, and you’ll remain anonymous and powerless.”
Over the years, repressive governments have tried to curb the use of internet amongst citizens in many ways. Consider this report by the Washington, DC based research and policy institute, The Brookings Institution, which claimed that 19 countries in 2015-16 forced “81 short term internet shutdowns”.
This resulted in economic losses worth $2.4 billion. Interestingly, India took the largest hit with $968 million in 2015-16.
“Two-thirds of the Internet population lives in areas where they can be jailed for posting criticism of the government and only a handful companies able to give protection against the biggest network attacks,” says 32 years old, Tamas Kocsis based out of Budapest who had coded other ideas for the internet.
He built ZeroNet, a decentralized network, where websites are hosted by visitors themselves and if someone visits a site on this network, the site gets downloaded to the user’s computer and start serving it to other visitors. “Apart from smaller contributions, I alone work on this project and did all of the UX/design/programming.”
Kocsis does not have major educational qualifications. He started working as a web developer from the age of 18 to realize his goal. “So some years ago on a dreamless night I had the idea of this network, but I was not sure if I’m the right person to do it or if it’s good idea at all.”
Then in December 2014, his idea of building ZeroNet almost fell apart when BitTorrent launched the Maelstrom browser to beat internet censorship. But after downloading it he realized, that it only supported static sites whereas he wanted to create pages wherein people can interact and communicate with each other.
“So I started developing my own solution and 3 weeks later I was able to release the first version as an open-source application,” says Kocsis.
With ZeroNet, users can create websites without even contacting any web hosting company while the network’s cryptography does not allow any third party to modify the sites except the host user. “You can have a blog with one click and if you have meaningful content, then your readers will host it for you which also make it censorship resistant,” says Kocsis.
ZeroNet currently has around 1000 users from countries such as China, Russia, Brazil and USA. Kocsis laments on the low number of users from India but hopes more people to join in. “Most of the content from all these countries came from blogs. Forums and the most popular site is a Twitter like social network where people can share ideas with each other in a simple way,” says Kocsis.
But a platform like ZeroNet can also give rise to Dark Net like sites where illegal drugs, guns and hire for hackers are traded. Kocsis denies this idea without any concrete backing. “ZeroNet is an open, free and censorship-free way to create websites. The freedom like this can be used in bad and good ways, but I think the benefits are much better, than drawbacks.”
Kocsis counts Julian Assange and Snowden as idols and thinks their work proves why there should not be 100% trust in governments around the world. Looking ahead, he plans to add big file and Tor alternative I2P network support.
(This article was published as-is from a syndicate feed)