[clug] Freenet - is it worth it?
paulway at mabula.net
Mon Aug 16 11:30:33 GMT 2004
I'd like to have a short rant here. Don't worry, it's not that important
unless you're interested in free speech.
Ever since I got a DSL connection I've run a Freenet node. Of course, not
being on a permanent IP address or a huge connection has meant that a lot
of the time it has been pushed to the bottom of the queue by other things
such as downloads. Finally I'm on a symmetric 512 connection, and tonight
I notice Freenet quite happily downloading 9K/sec and uploading
18K/sec. So I go to its 'web interface' thingy thinking "finally, I can
actually see some of these highly important pages".
Nup. "The network is busy". WHY? It's not like its using all my CPU or
my network connection. And almost every single time I've gone to use it in
the last three years it's either said that or "The node you're requesting
couldn't be found". I'm looking for one of the five main Freenet
collections - one that's listed on the main page of every Freenet node's
'web interface'. Freenet is designed to cache frequently used pages nearer
the requester - so why are all of these pages impossible for me to see?
Mind you, the one time I did see the FIND index, it seemed to be pretty
much exactly what was on the real, unencrypted, 'expensive' speech
Internet. Some lunatic with more time on their hands and lots less idea of
its relative worth has archived every Strong Bad email animation. As fine
an example of free speech as you could ever find! Whooee! That's pretty
damn important! None of the "how to build a bomb" or "things the
government doesn't want you to know" sites - and I have to admit the one
time I got this to work I did want to see what sort of radical things
people thought were worth preserving - weren't things that I've seen linked
to from places like Dan's Data.
So what is the actual point of this all? It's not like all this
hypersecurity is actually going to protect you. I heard a speaker from the
UK Government talking about their decision not to sell a piece of
intelligence collection software to Argentina, and he noted that, while
they didn't, the sort of place that you wouldn't sell a piece of
intelligence gathering software to was the sort of place where they didn't
worry about not presenting documented evidence, they just raided 'suspected
terrorists' houses at night and made them officially disappear. Crypto on
your computer and plausible deniability isn't going to stop the goon squad
kicking down your door and bashing you senseless.
So what's the point of Freenet? Does anyone run it? Has anyone every
found it worthwhile? Has anyone even got it working so that it actually
displays pages reliably? Because as far as I can tell it's a well-meaning
project that has completely missed the point.
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