With the recent addition of censorship of the Internet in Sweden and many other European states, the need for an anonymous communications system is growing. The current system in Sweden (heralded by the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet) for example was only to be used to block child porn. In a previous post I predicted that this filter would be expanded; it would sadly seem so that I was right about this. Bodström with his orwellian ambitions decided to request an expansion of the child porn filter to also include web pages that are used by prostitutes and their clients.
So, what is coming next? More pornography related stuff of-course, file sharing networks are probably in danger, and not to forget all the web pages containing hate speech. One is however out on VERY thin ice when starting to ban these since the government tries to act nanny and decide for you what is deemed morally right.
It is of course very difficult for an opponent of these technologies to discuss this, especially since the banned pages are of such kind that you really would like them gone from the planet. Non the less, liberty has never been gratis, it has been payed for in many good men's blood.
The censorship of the Internet is not limited to the enlightened western world, it is far worse in the unfree world. States like Iran, Saudi Arabia and China conduct censorship on the Internet, but these governments censor political information that the state dislike as well. China's Great Firewall (developed by Cisco) is perhaps the most well known of these systems. It cannot be denied that the citizens of these countries should have the right of free speech and liberty. Liberty of thought and speech can in an oppressive country only be guaranteed by completely anonymous communication.
A few weeks ago Ian Clarke of the Freenet project (if you are in China, don't bother to click the link) together with Oskar Sandberg had a presentation on the new version of Freenet in development. The great new thing is that the new version will be scalable on the global scale thanks to new routing algorithm and an invite only system. The motivation behind the new routing algorithm is the small world phenomenon, which basically is a hypothesis stating that every person in the world can be reached through a short chain of social acquaintances.
The network will guarantee the anonymity of a document's publisher and protect the transmissions from governmental eavesdropping. This will ensure that dissidents can publish thought without fearing that the government will knock on their door and drag them away in the night.
If you oppose the right of anonymous communication as it makes it harder to catch pedophiles, ask yourself whither the over 100 000 000 human beings that have been the victims of democide in the 20'th century did not deserve to live. I'm not claiming that all could have been saved, but I am claiming that hundreds of thousand and maybe millions could have lived.
These are exciting times for friends of liberty.
IDG on the censorship extension (sv)
Dagens Nyheter on the New Freenet (sv)
New York Times on the New Freenet (en)
Slashdot on the New Freenet (en)
Freenet Conference Paper (en)