One of the prominent people behind the current internet discusses the history (telephony, wire oriented), the current (IP, endpoint oriented) and the future (?, data oriented) at google tech talks.
A short synopsis: the internet is having trouble at the moment for it has been designed in a time the problem was different. In these days most of the data is duplicate data, which is a tremendous waste. Also connecting to the internet (getting an address) (and resulting from that keeping everything in sync) is hard. Van suggests and predicts a data oriented internet. A bit like a secure P2P bittorrent network, but instead of on top of IP on the IP level.
It’s a very interesting talk, worth watching.
torrentfreak.com has acquired a document how a british company is tracking down illegal use of P2P: This is How We Catch You Downloading.
Basically they use a modified P2P client which searches for infringing content, download it and if that works and is indeed is the content then they do a whois on your IP and send a infringement notice to your ISP. The best thing is that they claim that this provides enough proof that you really are infringing.
They probably never heard about botnets.
In my previous post I discussed Exeem. Exeem is (or actually will be for it hasn’t been launched, just announced) a p2p network for sharing, rating and commenting torrents.
What is a torrent? A torrent is a small file which is used for thebittorent p2p file redistribution system to identify a certain file, or files you can download. You first need the torrent for a file/folder before you can download it.
The major problem with this is that it is impossible to use a bittorent client itself to search for the downloads you want, therefore a lot of sites have been created over time which contain huge searchable collections of torrents. One of these sites was suprnova.org, which has recently been terminated due to legal issues.
As I elaborated in my previous post Exeem probably will suck. So someone will need to do stuff right by making an alternative.
What issues would have need to be solved to create such a p2p torrent sharing network?
- No centralized client list, most p2p networks were terminated because they had a centralised tracker to which a client connected to receive the file list and all the users available for a certain file. Instead of a centralised server every single client should tell other clients who else is in the network and what files are there. When giving every client a buildin list of IP’s it can update these by querying these for better IP’s. By rating an IP by uptime and connection bandwidth a big changing group of frequently online users could provide the other IP’s and port search queries for the rest.
- Searching, how to handle a search query? At this moment our client is connected to a few big clients who are frequently online in their neighbourhood, lets call them super nodes for now. When we send them a search query they would look in their cache whether they got the result and if not they look in their own torrents to see whether one of those matched the query and if it doesn’t they’ll just forward it to another a-bit-smaller supernode. The problem with this method is that one query could travel a huge amount of nodes and when you are connected with a good bandwidth you are doing nothing more than passing through queries to other nodes. To solve this the query feedback (when they found a result) should contain the source along with the estamated amount of different search queries the node which had the result can provide. By doing this a shortcut can be formed by one client if it finds a node which either has a lot of files searchable or which has an enourmous cache and offcourse along with that is online often and has a neat bandwidth
- Rating Alongside every torrent you download or expose for upload there would be a meta data file containing a description, rating and comments on the torrent itself. The problem with this system is that descriptions and ratings can change and it is very hard to keep every instance of a torrent on the whole network synchronized. It is possible to send a message through the network to the original node from which you received the file with the new comment message, or you could search for the torrent again by unique id and message the nodes found to have the torrent too. All these methods still include a lot of passing through messages.
- Client side ‘hacking’, When everyone would use the default client which automaticly selects super nodes and lets people pass through queries everything will work fine. The big problem is that it is very possible that people would start using illegal client applications which would just leech from the network. To incorpirate methods to get rid of leechers would work when most people are still using the default client, but when people massivly start using illegal clients the network won’t block itself anymore but would certainly get rid off itself for everyone is leeching. This is the major problem that could happen to this p2p network which heavily relies on the fact that everyone should help others whether they like it or not by proxying, caching and passing through various queries to maintain privacy and decentralization.
I’d be rather interested in how exeem will address these issues. I guess they would just outrule client site hacking by incorperating various encrypting tricks in their protocol.
Slashdot on exeem
Since suprnova.org has been offline due to it being illegal the main source for torrents has dissapeared and has lead to a hype around the replacement made by the original maintainers of suprnova, exeem.
First, what actually was suprnova.org. It was a site which maintained torrents for legal and illegal files. And it did even more; all torrents were thouroughly checked, commented and rated by an enourmous team of editors, making sure that the torrents on Suprnova.org were the best you could possibly find.
Because Suprnova moderated, commented, rated and checked every single torrent they offered they were without any doubt illegal. If they would have only offered user uploaded torrents with a nice disclaimer that the torrents are the property of their respective owners they would have probably gotten away with it, but they also wouldn’t have got as big as they were.
Exeem basicly works offers the same as Supernova.org, except that it is a p2p application, not a centralised website.
It basicly stores torrents and comments on these on a Peer to Peer network similar to Kazaa, which basicly makes every single user of it just as legal instead of just the main servers as it was the case with Supernova’s servers. It is very hard for authorities to punish every single user of a p2p network. There would have to be a trail for every single user which would never be profitable. Governments have tried to confict the big p2p users for this actually is profitable. The main problem is that there aren’t a lot of really big p2p users, just an incredible amount of small users who combined are even worse than a few big ones.
Exeem sounds great, exeem is an enourmous hype. But I think Exeem will suck:
- Exeem is p2p, this will most likely cause the rating, comments and moderation on torrents go down a lot and make it less attractive for the user. When having a very secure system so that only a few people can add new torrents to the network you have to have some kind of centralised authority which will be very vulnerable to legal persueds.
- Exeem will be addware, this will cause a lot of people to drop off. Noone wants to have addware on his computer.
Although I could be mistaking, most hypes like this one tend to turn out really dissapointing.
In my opinion the only way to get a neat new system like exeem which works cool is to get a p2p torrent redistribution network for legal purposes. Bittorent grew big for it was used to redistribute linux redists. Although it will probably will get used for illegal purposes it just would be a very handy system for legal purposes too.
More on this later…