Freenet: Anonymous P2P by Year's End

A group of developers on Wednesday said a new software tool that will allow for the swapping of files over the Internet would be available before the end of the year.

The Freenet Project is creating what is called a "darknet," where the computer user will remain anonymous while transferring files. The system is also set up much like the Internet, meaning it is decentralized and practically impossible to shut down.

The group released its latest test version of the software on Wednesday morning, but urged only experienced testers to try it out, as it is neither "user-friendly nor secure at this point."

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The project flies in the face of a recent decision by the United State Supreme Court, which made peer-to-peer (P2P) file services responsible for the actions of their users if they encourage illegal behavior. However, with the darknet client, there is no way to find the true identity of the downloader.

Ian Clarke, who heads the Freenet project, said that the group does not intend to encourage copyright infringement with the new software. But Clarke added that having both freedom in communication and following copyrights is not possible, as "the two are mutually exclusive."

The development of Freenet's darknet calls into question if P2P file sharing can ever truly be stopped. The project's Web site says, "Freenet's aim is to allow two or more people who wish to share information, to do so," and in an anonymous manner.

Success in battle against P2P has only been possible with the help of Internet service providers handing over the identities of their users. With Freenet, that would be impossible, thus throwing a wrench in the current methods of curbing illicit downloading.

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