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P2P Web Promises Many Freedoms - Part 3/3

BitTorrent Technology and Iceland May Make it Possible

Author's Note:  In Part 1 we examined the events leading up to the creation of Dot-P2P, the planned alternative peer-to-peer Domain Name System. In Part 2 we looked at the existing Internet DNS and how Dot-P2P aims to compete with it.  In this, the third and final part of this article, we look at where Dot-P2P may reside and why.

The decentralized authority enabled by the web of trust model works well for BitTorrent-based file sharing, but, in the opinion of the Dot-P2P organizers, would add complexity and diminish security in a domain name system, and so they are proposing a central authority instead to govern the otherwise highly distributed system.

The lack of a central authority in the existing BitTorrent network is one of the things that make it resilient against interdiction. If The Man shuts down any elements of the network - peers, trackers or sites, there are others that redundantly contain the same content and metadata and will seamlessly take over for the fallen systems.

In BitTorrent, there is no single point of failure and thus no single point from which a government or attacker could take down the whole network. So, it is perfectly understandable why many would want to see this quality preserved in the Dot-P2P DNS. But, enabling such a feature would probably make the project unachievable, at least with existing resources and within the target schedule. The COICA time bomb is ticking, after all.

Without this feature, though, won’t it then be possible for the US Government or some other authority to shut Dot-P2P down as easily as they are doing with individual domains today? That depends on where the .p2p root domain name server is located. Enter Iceland, stage left.

In 2008, the collapse of Iceland’s Kaupthing Bank precipitated a series of financial catastrophes that left the tiny nation saddled with $128b in debts, which works out to about four hundred thousand dollars for every citizen of the tiny nation. What happened at the bank, thanks to the country’s then-extant privacy laws went largely unknown to the Icelandic public for months as the country’s economy unraveled. Then, WikiLeaks outed the bank’s heinous misdeeds and, with the help of activist-turned-politician Birgitta Jonsdottir, prompted a national initiative to make the country a paragon of transparency and a safe haven for the world’s whistle-blowers.

As a new member of the Icelandic parliament, Jonsdottir led about a third of her colleagues to sponsor a legislative proposal called the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI), which has now received unanimous approval of the full parliament and has begun its progress to ultimately becoming law. On the IMMI website, she summarizes the initiative this way:

"Iceland will become the inverse of a tax haven; by offering journalists and publishers some of the most powerful protections for free speech and investigative journalism in the world. Tax havens aim is to make everything opaque. Our aim is to make everything transparent."

To help make that vision a reality, the country is building out a massive data center, powered by unlimited, free, green geothermal energy, cooled by arctic breezes, connected to fast trans-Atlantic cables to the US and Europe, and sporting a huge welcome mat at the door for web sites and infrastructure providers who share the IMMI vision. And, if all that were not enough, the IMMI site is quick to point out, Iceland has a highly educated workforce and a 15% corporate tax rate.

In many ways, Iceland and IMMI are the doppelganger of the US and the COICA, making it easy to see how Iceland might make the perfect place for Dot-P2P to put its name server and to root its technical operations, especially if they are really serious about enabling free speech in places like Iran and China, and the US, for that matter, in addition to the other business they make possible.

The sites that use the Dot-P2P domain name service and adopt the .p2p TLD will not have to be run from Iceland to share the freedom, though; they can be located anywhere and still avoid domain seizure by the US government under COICA. And, for those that do specialize in piracy and porn that is just as well, as the IMMI explicitly eschews those purposes.

More Stories By Tim Negris

Tim Negris is SVP, Marketing & Sales at Yottamine Analytics, a pioneering Big Data machine learning software company. He occasionally authors software industry news analysis and insights on Ulitzer.com, is a 25-year technology industry veteran with expertise in software development, database, networking, social media, cloud computing, mobile apps, analytics, and other enabling technologies.

He is recognized for ability to rapidly translate complex technical information and concepts into compelling, actionable knowledge. He is also widely credited with coining the term and co-developing the concept of the “Thin Client” computing model while working for Larry Ellison in the early days of Oracle.

Tim has also held a variety of executive and consulting roles in a numerous start-ups, and several established companies, including Sybase, Oracle, HP, Dell, and IBM. He is a frequent contributor to a number of publications and sites, focusing on technologies and their applications, and has written a number of advanced software applications for social media, video streaming, and music education.

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