Arguments about Freenet

Ca. 919 ord.

A couple of friends of mine have discussed the implications of Freenet and running a Freenet server.

Common basic arguments

What other people publish on Freenet is not your responsibility.

Argument against Freenet

  1. Responsibility to identify

    It is your responsibility to be able to identify the publisher. If you do not identify the publisher you can be punished until you identify the publisher.

  2. Anarchy

    Free speech is OK, but anonymous free speech as Freenet is anarchy.

  3. Illegal content with no punishment

    Anonymous free speech will make it possible to publish death lists for abortionalists, child pornography and other stuff that is illegal in your country without a way to punish people that publish illegal stuff.

    Freenet can be used for distributing illegal copies of software/music/films. If a considerable part of the activity on Freenet is of this kind, then chances are that every Freenet server will contain several parts of illegal copies.

  4. No need for anonymous free speech

    There is no need for anonymous free speech. If you want to publish something anonymously you should find someone who will provide you with anonymity (e.g. a journalist). If you cannot live with that then you are a coward and should not have free speech anyway.

Arguments for Freenet

  1. Punished free speech = implicit censoring

    If you cannot say what you mean without risking penalties then you are in practice censored. Most (all?) countries have freedom of speech - as long as you face the penalties imposed on you by the government.

    Photographic pornography was prohibited i Denmark before 1969. At that time you could not publish pornography without risking penalties. This is also true for some islamic states today. So what you are allowed to say (without facing penalties) is decided by the local government. If you disagree with the local government (as some Tibetians do) it is dangerous to publish non-anonymously. You may be able to find someone that will anonymize you and publish for you, but this could be dangerous in itself. The distributed nature of Freenet will make it much harder to find the source, as you do not need a prior arrangement before publishing.

  2. Distribution of free software

    Freenet has the potential of being the primary distribution channel for free software, as it scales well. Inserting a linux-distribution into Freenet a day before the release date can make it spread faster than by using a central FTP-server, because the FTP-server risks becoming overloaded.

  3. Law: No responsibility for cached content

    Freenet works by caching information and transmitting information encrypted. Freenet does not push content but only transmits content on request. The danish law about services in the information society says in §14-16 that transmitting data and caching is OK. You cannot be held responsible for the content. Unfortunately the law does not tell whether you can be held responsible for not knowing who the transmitting parties were.

  4. Information is less dangerous than physical objects and actions

    You can send and receive paper mail anonymously: Send an envelope without sender address to a poste restante address. The mailman is not responsible for neither content nor knowing you nor the receiver. The content may be anthrax or a bomb - both of these can kill you. However, not a single piece of information can kill you (Notably exception ;-). It is not death lists that kill people - it is people that kill people.

  5. Fight against the Big Brother society

    In the information society there is more and more control and surveillance. Phone conversations, web-surfing and emails can be traced and tapped. The society has half heartedly tried to force the new possibilites to work as the old ones. In Denmark there is a law for registers, for the employers right to read an employee's email, for getting warrant/court order for tapping emails and getting access to log files.

    But in the long run the society tends to go towards more control and more surveillance. And with digital communication it is both easy and cheap to do so automatically as long as the communication is not protected (e.g. encrypted). This makes digital communcation vulnerable to unlawful tapping. You can alway argue that more control would prevent some crime or accident - or at least make it easier to catch the criminal.

    So far this has been a one-way-street: The citizens have not been able to fight back - mostly because they do not care until they are caught doing something that happens to be illegal (Currently the top issue on this is automated speed control that takes a photo of you if you are speeding).

    With Freenet you can fight back and put a brake on the ever increasing control and surveillance - at least on the stuff you read and write.

  6. Freenet is good for freedom fighters.

    Freenet is good for freedom fighters. During World War II some freedom fighters (or terrorists - choose your words as you like) blew up rail roads and factories. They even killed some people - even though the local government told them not to do it and sentenced the ones they caught severely. Today those freedom fighters are (largely) regarded as heroes and not as terrorists.

    On Freenet you cannot kill people. You can only publish information. You cannot even force people to read your information. You can publish death lists (which would be illegal in most countries), but you cannot kill the people through Freenet.

Sidst ændret Thu Dec 19 04:30:05 2002