Free Software : tools for Freedom and democracy

Posted 23 Mar 2002 at 14:21 UTC by adulau Share This

After the recent use of DMCA by the Church of Scientology to remove some critics about them from the google cache. Free Software can be easily used to protect Freedom of speech, democracy and fundamental rights. There is a large overview of software that can do indexing, crawling, mirroring of documents available on HTTP server, NNTP server and so on ...

Any volunteer for building a distributed caching system for protecting Freedom ?

There is multiple way to build a google-like distributed cache engine for protecting Freedom and democracy, here it is some idea (just idea ;-) :

  • Using existing Free Software like mnogosearch [http://www.mnogosearch.org/] that can do lots of things like caching, mirroring, multiple db backend,... Some work has to be done to make it more reliable in large scale and for making multiple caching destination (different countries).

  • When they want to remove something, the only way to remove something is to give the complete url like : www.xenu.net/archive//... We have to think as an alternative solution for url (like temporary url moving day to day like : hash.something.org/archive/... ) An url type evolving in time in a random way, so to get the document you should go to a search interface to get the new document. Of course, you can get the original document but this is a way to preventing censorship on a specific url. We can have a pool of delegated subdomain (xyz.gnu.org, hysss.eff.org, zxy.ael.be...) that make the thing more complex for potential censorship.

    We have to fight against law like DMCA, EUCD, SSSCA and so on... But I think we have to fight in multiple front : political (as we do for the moment) front and a technical front also.

    Free Software, as we know, is a matter of Freedom. Freedom can be protected by using Free Software.

    Feel free to give ideas, opinions about the link between Freedom and Free Software.


  • Freenet and Mnet, posted 23 Mar 2002 at 15:19 UTC by Zooko » (Master)

    There are two projects that I know of that are under active development that could be used for this purpose: Freenet and Mnet.

    (I'm the leader of the Mnet project.)

    For current activity in Mnet, see the status page, the news page, the cvs repository, and the mnet-devel mailing list.

    The Freenet home page has a similar plethora of resources.

    Lots of work, posted 23 Mar 2002 at 23:52 UTC by raph » (Master)

    There's been a lot of work done on building censor-proof publication and archive systems. Probably the granddaddy of them all is Ross Anderson's Eternity project. Also see the "rewebber". More recent proposals, as Zooko points out, include MNet and Freenet. The Free Haven project has generated a lot of interesting research, as well.

    I think these projects are very worthwhile, but don't forget the importance of political solutions to political problems. There's a reason we don't scramble eggs with a hammer or drive nails with an eggbeater. Write your congress-critters. Engage in civil disobedience. Join the ACLU. Take the opportunity to educate people about the issues. Also write code, but don't labor under the delusion that any single one of these actions in isolation will fix the problem.

    out of US, posted 24 Mar 2002 at 20:45 UTC by lkcl » (Master)

    also, get stuff the _hell_ out of the US.

    i wonder if google would like a non-U.S. mirror site? :) :)

    anyone got a large amount of disk space and a big fat pipe available?

    erm and the rest, posted 24 Mar 2002 at 23:01 UTC by neurogato » (Journeyer)

    you'll be wanting a large Linux cluster with that order of diskspace, bandwidth and fries

    vounteers, posted 25 Mar 2002 at 22:46 UTC by jerry » (Journeyer)

    Any volunteer for building a distributed caching system for protecting Freedom?

    May I point you to the askemos project which is trying get an infrastructure done, which doesn't only distribute the data but also the processing.

    Problem with this strategy, posted 27 Mar 2002 at 17:04 UTC by vorlon » (Master)

    It's true that you can do amazing things by harnessing the power of Free Software; and in a sense, the low overhead makes Free Software very difficult to censor. But in another sense, proprietary interests have the upper hand when it comes to censorship. After all, the Church of Scientology doesn't have to prevent you from linking to all the information you want to about their forty-one flavors of evil; all they have to do in order to win is make sure the masses don't see your links.

    Which means that creating a distributed, hard-to-suppress network is the easy part. The hard part is drawing eyeballs from outside the free software/free speech/anti-CoS communities. After all, if the goal is something more than preaching to the choir -- if the goal is to actually fight misinformation and get the word out to society at large -- then these people are your target audience. Anything you do that makes you visible to them also makes you an obvious target for the CoS heavies to shoot at. Which means that with or without Free Software, fighting the social tumor that is the Church of Scientology is still going to be an uphill battle; it's going to take people brave enough to stand up to them for a cause, willing to take a few hits, willing to most likely suffer being dragged through court and have their reputation ruined in their local community.

    Free Software can keep the Internet running, but it can't make heroes. It's a powerful tool, but it's not a panacea. I think world hunger is a more tractable problem for Free Software than the CoS...

    GNUnet, posted 6 Apr 2002 at 00:51 UTC by grant » (Journeyer)

    haven't tried it, but GNUnet fits into this category

    I find it interesting that freely/openly licensed systems are the only lasting entries in this class of application.  Systems using proprietary licenses are short-lived in comparison, at least in part due to their lack of capability to a resist a direct bureaucratic attack.

    software isn't the problem, posted 29 Apr 2002 at 23:26 UTC by phr » (Master)

    Google already has a perfectly good search engine; Scientology hit it with a legal attack, not a technical one. There's nothing wrong with more indexers and caches but they're vulnerable to the same problems. Improved technology will simply lead to nastier laws (the DMCA and SSSCA are just the beginning).

    As someone put it in another context, you're looking for a Star Trek solution to a Babylon 5 problem. It's not a matter of technology but of political strength. Hollywood and Scientology have an innate interest in controlling internet publication (and human-to-human communication in general) and will do anything they can to buy the laws they want. Their efforts have to be opposed at a political level and not just with more search engines.

    software isn't the problem, posted 29 Apr 2002 at 23:26 UTC by phr » (Master)

    Google already has a perfectly good search engine; Scientology hit it with a legal attack, not a technical one. There's nothing wrong with more indexers and caches but they're vulnerable to the same problems. Improved technology will simply lead to nastier laws (the DMCA and SSSCA are just the beginning).

    As someone put it in another context, you're looking for a Star Trek solution to a Babylon 5 problem. It's not a matter of technology but of political strength. Hollywood and Scientology have an innate interest in controlling internet publication (and human-to-human communication in general) and will do anything they can to buy the laws they want. Their efforts have to be opposed at a political level and not just with more search engines.

    software is not the problem, posted 29 Apr 2002 at 23:26 UTC by phr » (Master)

    Google already has a perfectly good search engine; Scientology hit it with a legal attack, not a technical one. There's nothing wrong with more indexers and caches but they're vulnerable to the same problems. Improved technology will simply lead to nastier laws (the DMCA and SSSCA are just the beginning).

    As someone put it in another context, you're looking for a Star Trek solution to a Babylon 5 problem. It's not a matter of technology but of political strength. Hollywood and Scientology have an innate interest in controlling internet publication (and human-to-human communication in general) and will do anything they can to buy the laws they want. Their efforts have to be opposed at a political level and not just with more search engines.

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