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Ian Clarke and Freenet in the Crosshairs 493

EMIce writes "John Markoff of the New York Times writes of Ian, "Though he says his aim is political - helping dissidents in countries where computer traffic is monitored by the government, for example - Mr. Clarke is open about his disdain for copyright laws, asserting that his technology would produce a world in which all information is freely shared. ... Now, however, Mr. Clarke is taking a fresh approach, stating that his goal is to protect political opponents of repressive regimes." Wasn't freenet originally about dissent? Mr. Markoff appears to be re-writing a history that he probably only knows through a handful of lexis-nexis searches." Update: 08/01 18:32 GMT by T : Ian Clarke wrote to point out his comment posted to the story which lays out the actual subject of his Defcon talk.
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Ian Clarke and Freenet in the Crosshairs

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  • by ponds ( 728911 ) on Monday August 01, 2005 @12:06PM (#13214559)
    Don't we already know John Markoff's tactics all too well?
  • Re:Notable quote (Score:4, Informative)

    by kschawel ( 823163 ) <> on Monday August 01, 2005 @12:19PM (#13214694)
    If anyone can give actual provable examples of the US government abridging Constitutionally protected free speech, I'd love to hear it.

    Alien and Sedition Acts [], specifically the Sedition Acts. From wikipeida:

    The Sedition Act made it a crime to publish "false, scandalous, and malicious writing" against government or government officials.

    I think that qualifies.
  • Re:So anyone.. (Score:2, Informative)

    by g0tai ( 625459 ) on Monday August 01, 2005 @12:19PM (#13214697)
    Freenet's not really something you can just start up like eMule or BitTorrent (exeem, azureus(spelt) etc), but it is designed from an 'always on' perspective... If you left it on for at least a couple of days and allowed it to get to know other (reliable) nodes, you would notice it is considerably faster when the network is in a working state..... Even though it does have a sort of 'load and go non-permanenet' mode, it does take ages to get it to do sod all. Have patience, and if you've not got any of that ;) then join the mailing list and complain! :)
  • Re:Notable quote (Score:3, Informative)

    by interiot ( 50685 ) on Monday August 01, 2005 @12:22PM (#13214725) Homepage
    If anyone can give actual provable examples of the US government abridging Constitutionally protected free speech, I'd love to hear it.
    That's easy. The constitution and the federal and state laws have many many rules. Some of them are in conflict. It's not always clear which of the rules in conflict trumps the other. When there's some disagreement about which one should win, some people have legitimate room to say that the first amendment is being overruled. Our speech isn't being "trampled" per-se, but it is being limited, and some of the limits may seem kind of silly in some cases.
  • Obvious? (Score:3, Informative)

    by globalar ( 669767 ) on Monday August 01, 2005 @12:25PM (#13214746) Homepage
    This article doesn't seem to be about Clark. What Markoff appears to be saying is that the struggle corporations have with "protecting" copyrighted material is similar to the challenges repressive governments face with censorship. Tools such as Freenet challenge both. Advocates like Clark typically find themselves disagreeing with corporations and governments. Communication technology and individual liberty makes no distinction between information. /.'s should already know this well.

  • by Kainaw ( 676073 ) on Monday August 01, 2005 @12:30PM (#13214793) Homepage Journal
    How do you justify your comments? You claim the USA PATRIOT Act abridges Constitutionally protected free speech. Where is the "no free speech" part of the USA PATRIOT Act? Really, where? There are 3 parts to the act:
      1) The USA Act - extending on FISA as a set of restictions on Federal investigations.
      2) A set of money laundering laws to trap international funds used by terrorists.
      3) A set of awards to victims of terrorism.

    You claim that saying the wrong thing can have you taken away without a warrant. How? Are you claiming that FISC warrants do not count as warrants? Perhaps you want a phone call with 24 hour notice before any police action is ever taken so that criminals have plenty of time to handle any personal matters before the cops show up.

    You claim you may be held indefinitely without trial. I assume you are referring to Guantanamo Bay. Did it ever occur to you that there are no citizens of the United States being held there? Since when does our Constitution apply to citizens of other countries? Since when does it apply to POW's?

    Basically, you have painted a completely malformed picture of the United States that may easily be used as fuel for those who hate the United States. You are free to do so. Nobody is going to arrest you. Nobody is going to search your library records. How is that not free speech?
  • Re:Notable quote (Score:5, Informative)

    by khallow ( 566160 ) on Monday August 01, 2005 @12:34PM (#13214839)
    This act long ago expired in 1802. I imagine that the grandparent poster meant something a little more recent. :-)
  • Re:Notable quote (Score:3, Informative)

    by cortana ( 588495 ) <sam.robots@org@uk> on Monday August 01, 2005 @12:38PM (#13214875) Homepage
    The Acts were all repealed or expired by 1802, and ultimately contributed to the Federalists' loss in the election of 1800.
    I think you are a little out of date.
  • by Irvu ( 248207 ) on Monday August 01, 2005 @12:40PM (#13214895)
    At the DNC and RNC conventions protestors (even licenced ones) were either a) moved to fenced-in areas well away from the conventions or (in the case of the RNC conventions blocked off and arrested non-violent marchers (with permits) (see here []). I'd consider these pretty unambiguous attacks on "the rights of people to peacably assemble and petition their government for a redress of greivances." !st Amendement to the Constitution of the United States [].

    In other notes we have violations of due process in the case of Jose Padilla and other U.S. Citizens. For example Article III Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution states: "The trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury; and such trial shall be held in the state where the said crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any state, the trial shall be at such place or places as the Congress may by law have directed." Which requires jury trials for those accused not secret military tribunals. Amendments V and VI also speak to this subject:

    Amendment V

    No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

    Amendment VI

    In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

    And before you jump on the point I would point out that the Military Tiribunals are not being convened against members of the U.S. Military ('
    In service in war or in time of public danger') so that clause of Amendment V doesn't give carte Blanche for them.

    On another note both the USAPATRIOT act and various federal laws dealing with drugs routinely allow for the unwarranted search and seizure of private property in some cases such property is not returned even when no conviction takes place. This would be (IMHO) a violation of Amendment IV of the constitution which states:

    Amendment IV

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    While we're on the topic of drugs. Excessive punishments and jail times have routinely been employed in this area noteably including California's 3-strikes policy which leads to life in prison even for 3 minor crimes (any 3 frauds including possession). Agasin in my opinion this would be a severe issue with Amendment VIII:

    Amendment VIII

    Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

    As a key point I would also mention this amendment:

    Amendment IX

    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage other

  • Re:Notable quote (Score:3, Informative)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Monday August 01, 2005 @12:41PM (#13214905) Homepage Journal
    You're right that the First Amendment protects only your ability to speak and publish whatever you want. Of course it therefore does protect you from some consequences: if your speech is met with execution by the police, it's hardly protected by the government. Speech can not be responded to with actions that stop the speech. It can be met with opposing speech - which is exactly the only way to really stop unwanted speech: countering their argument.

    You're wrong about the scope of the First Amendment. The Constitution does not instruct merely the Federal government in its acceptable actions. The Constitution is based on the realization that governments are a product of the people, created by us to protect the rights we have. The right to free speech, like any other right, is not some narrow, situational privilege. It's an essential part of our humanity. Whether the government or a private entity infringes those rights, they're being infringed. And it's the government's purpose to protect them from infringement. So the government is required to stop private parties from infringing those rights.

    There is, however, the competing right for people to be secure in our private places (Fourth Amendment). So I am free to exclude people from places I control, like a blog/discussion. However, we have learned from our centuries of democracy that exclusion of people from private places on basis of race, gender, ethnicity etc are detrimental to our free society. Rights can be abused. It's important to keep the reality of the human events foremost in mind, and the legal model that we use to manage those events secondary, in the service of the human events.
  • Not True. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Irvu ( 248207 ) on Monday August 01, 2005 @12:53PM (#13214991)
    While False information is generally covered as Slander or Libel "Scandalous" and "Malicious" wiritng is simply anything oppositional to the current govenrment. That includes almost all politicial speech except that desired by the current officeholders. This would include all of the Clinton-Bashing that was published during his office (some of which included unfounded accusations). The same would be true of any and all things critical of the bush administration including news reports of their manipulating WMD evidence.
  • by Sanity ( 1431 ) * on Monday August 01, 2005 @01:02PM (#13215099) Homepage Journal
    The article doesn't really discuss it, but the core innovation being presented in the Defcon talk was a design for a scalable darknet. This is interesting and new because current darknets, such as Waste, don't scale. They typically consist of small isolated groups of small numbers of people.

    This new design for Freenet is different, it is a globally scalable invite-only Darknet. Oskar Sandberg and Ian Clarke have developed a method to route messages through a "fixed links" P2P network in a scalable way. This is non-trivial as most scalable P2P search algorithms (such as that previously employed in Freenet, and other Distributed HashTable algorithms) rely on being able to choose which peers are connected to each-other. Its like trying to create signposts for a gigantic maze in an entirely decentralised way.

    We hope to make a paper describing this available through the Freenet website [] in the next few days.


  • by Irvu ( 248207 ) on Monday August 01, 2005 @01:09PM (#13215177)
    a) While Hamdi has been removed from Guantano (where we was held for some time) he is still being held without trial, bail, or even being charged with a crime. Jose Padilla is also being held without trial or the ability to mount a meaningful defense. It is relatively (indeed entirely) immaterial where their cells are located the fact is they are still being denied their constitutional rights.

    Your comments are illogical at best. If you read closely you will see that I was making directed criticisms about the treatment of U.S. Citizens. I presented no "Malformed picture" and I stand by what I said.

    As to your comments about "Nobody arresting me" and "Nobody searching my library records" I would point out that a) I never claimed I would be arrested but then I'm not muslim. And b) My library records (and yours) can be searched by the FBI at any time. The only requirement is a directive issued from the FBI itself. It is not a FISA warrant or indeed subject to any initial review. That, certainly, the fact of being investigated for what we read is not free speech.

    As to your 3 points. The full text of the act can be found here. The act consists of a total of 10 Titles each of which enumerates multiple changes to the law including delayed notice of warrant execution, library searches, increased use of "administrative warrants" which see no judicial review (not even from the FISA court, and so on. I suggest that you read the text of the act and consider how the changes it implements can be used by others, and expanded on before you claim that it is "just 3 things"

  • Re:Notable quote (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 01, 2005 @01:23PM (#13215333)
    Not to an ass... but I will.
    PETA thinks all domesticated pets should be eauthanized... They would be the ones killing a dog.
  • by richieb ( 3277 ) <richieb&gmail,com> on Monday August 01, 2005 @01:54PM (#13215664) Homepage Journal
    Since when does our Constitution apply to citizens of other countries?

    Since it was written. If you read The Bill of Rights, it explictely refers to "persons" and "people", not to U.S. citizens.

    Read it sometime...

  • Re:Notable quote (Score:2, Informative)

    by Mister Incognito ( 804547 ) on Monday August 01, 2005 @02:28PM (#13215993) Journal
    If the first group has the media (for whatever reason) and the second one doesn't, obviously the second won't get equal cover.

    As such, the second event didn't happen to the public (who was the intended target of the message), so it didn't happen.
  • More information (Score:4, Informative)

    by Sanity ( 1431 ) * on Monday August 01, 2005 @02:42PM (#13216132) Homepage Journal
    Here is a formal abstract, and an informal "blog entry", both of which were part of the submissions material for the talk:


    It has become apparent that the greatest threat toward the survival of peer to peer, and especially file sharing, networks is the openness of the peers themselves towards strangers. So called "darknets" - encrypted networks where peers connect directly only to trusted friends - have been suggested as a solution to this. Some, small-scale darknet implementations such a Nullsofts WASTE have already been deployed, but these share the problem that peers can only communicate within a small neighborhood.

    Utilizing the small world theory of Watts and Strogatz, Jon Kleinbergs algorithmic observations, and our own experience from working with the anonymous distributed data network Freenet, we explore methods of using the dynamics of social networks to find scalable ways of searching and routing in a darknet. We discuss how the results indicating the human relationships really form a "small world", allow for ways of restoring to the darknet the characteristics necessary for efficient routing. We illustrate our methods with simulation results.

    This is, to our knowledge, the first time a model for building peer to peer networks that allow for both peer privacy and global communication has been suggested. The deployment of such networks would offer great opportunities for truly viable peer to peer networks, and a very difficult challenge to their enemies.

    Blog Entry:

    I started the Freenet Project in 1998 with the goal of building a network for truly free communication, and of all the things we have learned since then, perhaps the most salient is that the biggest threats to P2P networks come not from without, but from within the network itself. This is something that the current file sharing networks are now learning the hard way, with those organizations who wish to stop them now infiltrating the networks to sue individual users for providing certain files. And while Freenet has always been designed to protect the identity and security of people who access and publish information from attackers and prying eyes, it's design has never been able to protect the identity of people who operate nodes in the network from one another.

    Recently Oskar, who was one of the original contributors to the project and who is now working on his PhD in Mathematics, and I have been discussing the mathematical mechanics behind large scale networks. As a part of this discussion it dawned on us, that because science now believes that human relationships really do form a "small world" (between any two of us, there are only six degrees of separation), with the right algorithms it should be possible to find data fast even in a network where peers only ever talk to peers that they already know and trust. We believe our methods for doing this provide to key to making peer-to-peer networks that are both dark and searchable: secure and efficient. For those who wish to constrain the free flow of information, such networks could be the biggest nightmare of all...

  • Re:Notable quote (Score:3, Informative)

    by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Monday August 01, 2005 @04:15PM (#13216952)

    Sorry, Chinese dissidents -- I won't run a Freenet node. You're on your own because too many of my countrymen appear to be incapable of understanding that their right to "speak" freely brings with it a responsibility not to harm others - nor to be accessories after the fact of such harm - with their "speech". When you win your freedom, I hope you do a better job with it than we in the West did.

    You know, I ran a Freenet node for several years, and only stopped a while ago (needed the computing resources for other things - I'll consider returning when the current rewrite is done). And in all that time, I've never, ever, not even once, seen a single instance of child porn in Freenet. Perhaps I've been just lucky, or perhaps its just that I haven't went looking for the stuff. But the nastiest thing I ever saw in Freenet was an ASCII art version of Goatse Man posted to a Frost [] board. I have, however, come accross multiple freesites (websites that have been inserted into Freenet and can be accessed through a web browser by pointing it to localhost:8888, which connects to a proxy server that retrieves the pages from the Freenet and offers them over http protocol) that would be sued out of the Net in good old America. Stuff about scientologists, for example - sorry, can't remember the URI (Freenets version of URL), I never was particularly interested of scientology).

    Furthermore, I wonder about the parents claim that a significant amount ("stream of noise") of Freenet traffick is child pornography. The files in Freenet are identified by their SHA1 hashes (called "CHK keys"), and are encrypted with this key before being stored. Then the key is also encrypted before being stored. The requesting node will take the nonencrypted key provided by user, encrypt it with itself, and send a request for the resulting string. When it gets the data back, it decrypts it with the original, user-supplied key. This means that, in order to figure out file contents, even when said file is stored in your node, you need to know the original key. You cannot simply peek inside traffick going through your node, since it is encrypted and you don't have the decrypting key. You can only check against a given list of keys. But that would of course mean that you'd need to compile such a list first, by actively seeking out child pornography - which, because of Freenets cache mechanism, would make it cached in more nodes, increasing the likelihood that anyone else looking for it is able to retrieve it succesfully.

    Based on the above, I have to conclude that the parent poster is either

    1. a hypocritical pervert, who went looking for child porn and then posted his rant here afterwards or
    2. a well-meaning fool who composed his list without realising that it would help the very thing he tried to work against or
    3. a troll who talks out of his ass.

    Take your pick.

    Also, I must point out that Freenet protects the identities of both the inserter and retriever of data, so the parent has no way to know if this alleged child porn traffick is being generated by his countrymen or someone else. This strongly suggests option number three.

The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts. -- Paul Erlich