Freenet is a peer-to-peer platform for censorship-resistant communication. It uses a decentralized distributed data store to keep and deliver information, and has a suite of free software for publishing and communicating on the Web without fear of censorship.[5][6]:151 Both Freenet and some of its associated tools were originally designed by Ian Clarke, who defined Freenet's goal as providing freedom of speech on the Internet with strong anonymity protection.[7][8]

The distributed data store of Freenet is used by many third-party programs and plugins to provide microblogging and media sharing,[9] anonymous and decentralised version tracking,[10] blogging,[11] a generic web of trust for decentralized spam resistance,[12] Shoeshop for using Freenet over Sneakernet,[13] and many more.

Logo of Freenet
FProxy index page (Freenet 0.7)
FProxy index page (Freenet 0.7)
Developer(s)The Freenet Project[1]
Initial releaseMarch 2000
Stable release
0.7.5 (Build 1483) (November 18, 2018) [±][2]
Preview release
0.7.5 (Build 1479-pre5) / 14 October 2017[3]
Written inJava
Operating systemCross-platform
Available inEnglish, French, Italian, German, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, Norwegian, Chinese[4]
TypeAnonymity, peer-to-peer, friend-to-friend, overlay network
LicenseGNU General Public License


The origin of Freenet can be traced to Ian Clarke's student project at the University of Edinburgh, which he completed as a graduation requirement in the summer of 1999.[14][15][16] Ian Clarke's resulting unpublished report "A distributed decentralized information storage and retrieval system" (1999) provided foundation for the seminal paper written in collaboration with other researchers, "Freenet: A Distributed Anonymous Information Storage and Retrieval System" (2001).[17][18] According to CiteSeer, it became one of the most frequently cited computer science articles in 2002.[19]

Researchers suggested that Freenet can provide anonymity on the Internet by storing small encrypted snippets of content distributed on the computers of its users and connecting only through intermediate computers which pass on requests for content and sending them back without knowing the contents of the full file, similar to how routers on the Internet route packets without knowing anything about files—except Freenet has caching, a layer of strong encryption, and no reliance on centralized structures.[18] This allows users to publish anonymously or retrieve various kinds of information.[6]:152

Freenet darknet
The Freenet 0.7 darknet peers list.

Freenet has been under continuous development since 2000.

Freenet 0.7, released on 8 May 2008, is a major re-write incorporating a number of fundamental changes. The most fundamental change is support for darknet operation. Version 0.7 offered two modes of operation: a mode in which it connects only to friends, and an opennet-mode in which it connects to any other Freenet user. Both modes can be run simultaneously. When a user switches to pure darknet operation, Freenet becomes very difficult to detect from the outside. The transport layer created for the darknet mode allows communication over restricted routes as commonly found in mesh networks, as long as these connections follow a small-world structure.[20]:815–816 Other modifications include switching from TCP to UDP, which allows UDP hole punching along with faster transmission of messages between peers in the network.[21]

Freenet 0.7.5, released on 12 June 2009, offers a variety of improvements over 0.7. These include reduced memory usage, faster insert and retrieval of content, significant improvements to the FProxy web interface used for browsing freesites, and a large number of smaller bugfixes, performance enhancements, and usability improvements. Version 0.7.5 also shipped with a new version of the Windows installer.[22]

As of build 1226, released on 30 July 2009, features that have been written include significant security improvements against both attackers acting on the network and physical seizure of the computer running the node.[23]

As of build 1468, released on 11 July 2015, the Freenet core stopped using the db4o database and laid the foundation for an efficient interface to the Web of Trust plugin which provides spam resistance.[24]

Freenet has always been free software, but until 2011 it required users to install Java. This problem was solved by making Freenet compatible with OpenJDK, a free and open source implementation of the Java Platform.

On 11 February 2015, Freenet received the SUMA-Award for "protection against total surveillance."[25][26][27]

Features and user interface of Freenet

Freenet served as the model for the Japanese peer to peer file-sharing programs Winny, Share and Perfect Dark, but this model differs from p2p networks such as Bittorrent and emule. Freenet separates the underlying network structure and protocol from how users interact with the network; as a result, there are a variety of ways to access content on the Freenet network. The simplest is via FProxy, which is integrated with the node software and provides a web interface to content on the network. Using FProxy, a user can browse freesites (websites that use normal HTML and related tools, but whose content is stored within Freenet rather than on a traditional web server). The web interface is also used for most configuration and node management tasks. Through the use of separate applications or plugins loaded into the node software, users can interact with the network in other ways, such as forums similar to web forums or Usenet or interfaces more similar to traditional P2P "filesharing" interfaces.

While Freenet provides an HTTP interface for browsing freesites, it is not a proxy for the World Wide Web; Freenet can be used to access only the content that has been previously inserted into the Freenet network. In this way, it is more similar to Tor's hidden services than to anonymous proxy software like Tor's proxy.

Freenet's focus lies on free speech and anonymity. Because of that, Freenet acts differently at certain points that are (directly or indirectly) related to the anonymity part. Freenet attempts to protect the anonymity of both people inserting data into the network (uploading) and those retrieving data from the network (downloading). Unlike file sharing systems, there is no need for the uploader to remain on the network after uploading a file or group of files. Instead, during the upload process, the files are broken into chunks and stored on a variety of other computers on the network. When downloading, those chunks are found and reassembled. Every node on the Freenet network contributes storage space to hold files and bandwidth that it uses to route requests from its peers.

As a direct result of the anonymity requirements, the node requesting content does not normally connect directly to the node that has it; instead, the request is routed across several intermediaries, none of which know which node made the request or which one had it. As a result, the total bandwidth required by the network to transfer a file is higher than in other systems, which can result in slower transfers, especially for infrequently accessed content.

Since version 0.7, Freenet offers two different levels of security: Opennet and Darknet. With Opennet, users connect to arbitrary other users. With Darknet, users connect only to "friends" with whom they previously exchanged public keys, named node-references. Both modes can be used together.


Freenet's founders argue that true freedom of speech comes only with true anonymity and that the beneficial uses of Freenet outweigh its negative uses.[28] Their view is that free speech, in itself, is not in contradiction with any other consideration—the information is not the crime. Freenet attempts to remove the possibility of any group imposing its beliefs or values on any data. Although many states censor communications to different extents, they all share one commonality in that a body must decide what information to censor and what information to allow. What may be acceptable to one group of people may be considered offensive or even dangerous to another. In essence, the purpose of Freenet is to ensure that no one is allowed to decide what is acceptable.

Reports of Freenet's use in authoritarian nations is difficult to track due to the very nature of Freenet's goals. One group, Freenet China, used to introduce the Freenet software to Chinese users starting from 2001 and distribute it within China through e-mails and on disks after the group's website was blocked by the Chinese authorities on the mainland. It was reported that in 2002 Freenet China had several thousand dedicated users.[29]:70–71 However, Freenet opennet traffic is blocked in China around the 2010s.

Technical design

The Freenet file sharing network stores documents and allows them to be retrieved later by an associated key, as is now possible with protocols such as HTTP. The network is designed to be highly survivable. The system has no central servers and is not subject to the control of any one individual or organization, including the designers of Freenet. Information stored on Freenet is distributed around the network and stored on several different nodes. Encryption of data and relaying of requests makes it difficult to determine who inserted content into Freenet, who requested that content, or where the content was stored. This protects the anonymity of participants, and also makes it very difficult to censor specific content. Content is stored encrypted, making it difficult for even the operator of a node to determine what is stored on that node. This provides plausible deniability, and in combination with the request relaying means that safe harbor laws that protect service providers may also protect Freenet node operators. When asked about the topic, Freenet developers defer to the EFF discussion which says that not being able to filter anything is a safe choice.[30][31]

Distributed storage and caching of data

Like Winny, Share and Perfect Dark, Freenet not only transmits data between nodes but actually stores them, working as a huge distributed cache. To achieve this, each node allocates some amount of disk space to store data; this is configurable by the node operator, but is typically several GB (or more).

Files on Freenet are typically split into multiple small blocks, with duplicate blocks created to provide redundancy. Each block is handled independently, meaning that a single file may have parts stored on many different nodes.

Information flow in Freenet is different from networks like eMule or BitTorrent; in Freenet:

  1. A user wishing to share a file or update a freesite "inserts" the file "to the network"
  2. After "insertion" is finished, the publishing node is free to shut down, because the file is stored in the network. It will remain available for other users whether or not the original publishing node is online. No single node is responsible for the content; instead, it is replicated to many different nodes.

Two advantages of this design are high reliability and anonymity. Information remains available even if the publisher node goes offline, and is anonymously spread over many hosting nodes as encrypted blocks, not entire files.

The key disadvantage of the storage method is that no one node is responsible for any chunk of data. If a piece of data is not retrieved for some time and a node keeps getting new data, it will drop the old data sometime when its allocated disk space is fully used. In this way Freenet tends to 'forget' data which is not retrieved regularly (see also Effect).

While users can insert data into the network, there is no way to delete data. Due to Freenet's anonymous nature the original publishing node or owner of any piece of data is unknown. The only way data can be removed is if users don't request it.


Typically, a host computer on the network runs the software that acts as a node, and it connects to other hosts running that same software to form a large distributed, variable-size network of peer nodes. Some nodes are end user nodes, from which documents are requested and presented to human users. Other nodes serve only to route data. All nodes communicate with each other identically – there are no dedicated "clients" or "servers". It is not possible for a node to rate another node except by its capacity to insert and fetch data associated with a key. This is unlike most other P2P networks where node administrators can employ a ratio system, where users have to share a certain amount of content before they can download.

Freenet may also be considered a small world network.

The Freenet protocol is intended to be used on a network of complex topology, such as the Internet (Internet Protocol). Each node knows only about some number of other nodes that it can reach directly (its conceptual "neighbors"), but any node can be a neighbor to any other; no hierarchy or other structure is intended. Each message is routed through the network by passing from neighbor to neighbor until it reaches its destination. As each node passes a message to a neighbor, it does not know whether the neighbor will forward the message to another node, or is the final destination or original source of the message. This is intended to protect the anonymity of users and publishers.

Each node maintains a data store containing documents associated with keys, and a routing table associating nodes with records of their performance in retrieving different keys.


Freenet Request Sequence ZP
A typical request sequence. The request moves through the network from node to node, backing out of a dead-end (step 3) and a loop (step 7) before locating the desired file.

The Freenet protocol uses a key-based routing protocol, similar to distributed hash tables. The routing algorithm changed significantly in version 0.7. Prior to version 0.7, Freenet used a heuristic routing algorithm where each node had no fixed location, and routing was based on which node had served a key closest to the key being fetched (in version 0.3) or which is estimated to serve it faster (in version 0.5). In either case, new connections were sometimes added to downstream nodes (i.e. the node that answered the request) when requests succeeded, and old nodes were discarded in least recently used order (or something close to it). Oskar Sandberg's research (during the development of version 0.7) shows that this "path folding" is critical, and that a very simple routing algorithm will suffice provided there is path folding.

The disadvantage of this is that it is very easy for an attacker to find Freenet nodes, and connect to them, because every node is continually attempting to find new connections. In version 0.7, Freenet supports both 'Opennet' (similar to the old algorithms, but simpler), and "Darknet" (all node connections are set up manually, so only your friends know your node's IP address). Darknet is less convenient, but much more secure against a distant attacker.

This change required major changes in the routing algorithm. Every node has a location, which is a number between 0 and 1. When a key is requested, first the node checks the local data store. If it's not found, the key's hash is turned into another number in the same range, and the request is routed to the node whose location is closest to the key. This goes on until some number of hops is exceeded, there are no more nodes to search, or the data is found. If the data is found, it is cached on each node along the path. So there is no one source node for a key, and attempting to find where it is currently stored will result in it being cached more widely. Essentially the same process is used to insert a document into the network: the data is routed according to the key until it runs out of hops, and if no existing document is found with the same key, it is stored on each node. If older data is found, the older data is propagated and returned to the originator, and the insert "collides".

But this works only if the locations are clustered in the right way. Freenet assumes that the Darknet (a subset of the global social network) is a small-world network, and nodes constantly attempt to swap locations (using the Metropolis–Hastings algorithm) in order to minimize their distance to their neighbors. If the network actually is a small-world network, Freenet should find data reasonably quickly; ideally on the order of hops. However, it does not guarantee that data will be found at all.[32]

Eventually, either the document is found or the hop limit is exceeded. The terminal node sends a reply that makes its way back to the originator along the route specified by the intermediate nodes' records of pending requests. The intermediate nodes may choose to cache the document along the way. Besides saving bandwidth, this also makes documents harder to censor as there is no one "source node."


Freenet datastore specialisation.ani
The effect of the node specialising on the particular location.

Initially, the locations in Darknet are distributed randomly. This means that routing of requests is essentially random. In Opennet connections are established by a join request which provides an optimized network structure if the existing network is already optimized.[33] So the data in a newly started Freenet will be distributed somewhat randomly.

As location swapping (on Darknet) and path folding (on Opennet) progress, nodes which are close to one another will increasingly have close locations, and nodes which are far away will have distant locations. Data with similar keys will be stored on the same node.[33]

The result is that the network will self-organize into a distributed, clustered structure where nodes tend to hold data items that are close together in key space. There will probably be multiple such clusters throughout the network, any given document being replicated numerous times, depending on how much it is used. This is a kind of "spontaneous symmetry breaking", in which an initially symmetric state (all nodes being the same, with random initial keys for each other) leads to a highly asymmetric situation, with nodes coming to specialize in data that has closely related keys.

There are forces which tend to cause clustering (shared closeness data spreads throughout the network), and forces that tend to break up clusters (local caching of commonly used data). These forces will be different depending on how often data is used, so that seldom-used data will tend to be on just a few nodes which specialize in providing that data, and frequently used items will be spread widely throughout the network. This automatic mirroring counteracts the times when web traffic becomes overloaded, and due to a mature network's intelligent routing, a network of size n should require only log(n) time to retrieve a document on average.[34]


Keys are hashes: there is no notion of semantic closeness when speaking of key closeness. Therefore, there will be no correlation between key closeness and similar popularity of data as there might be if keys did exhibit some semantic meaning, thus avoiding bottlenecks caused by popular subjects.

There are two main varieties of keys in use on Freenet, the Content Hash Key (CHK) and the Signed Subspace Key (SSK). A subtype of SSKs is the Updatable Subspace Key (USK) which adds versioning to allow secure updating of content.

A CHK is a SHA-256 hash of a document (after encryption, which itself depends on the hash of the plaintext) and thus a node can check that the document returned is correct by hashing it and checking the digest against the key. This key contains the meat of the data on Freenet. It carries all the binary data building blocks for the content to be delivered to the client for reassembly and decryption. The CHK is unique by nature and provides tamperproof content. A hostile node altering the data under a CHK will immediately be detected by the next node or the client. CHKs also reduce the redundancy of data since the same data will have the same CHK and when multiple sites reference the same large files, they can reference to the same CHK.[35]

SSKs are based on public-key cryptography. Currently Freenet uses the DSA algorithm. Documents inserted under SSKs are signed by the inserter, and this signature can be verified by every node to ensure that the data is not tampered with. SSKs can be used to establish a verifiable pseudonymous identity on Freenet, and allow for multiple documents to be inserted securely by a single person. Files inserted with an SSK are effectively immutable, since inserting a second file with the same name can cause collisions. USKs resolve this by adding a version number to the keys which is also used for providing update notification for keys registered as bookmarks in the web interface.[36] Another subtype of the SSK is the Keyword Signed Key, or KSK, in which the key pair is generated in a standard way from a simple human-readable string. Inserting a document using a KSK allows the document to be retrieved and decrypted if and only if the requester knows the human-readable string; this allows for more convenient (but less secure) URIs for users to refer to.[37]


A network is said to be scalable if its performance does not deteriorate even if the network is very large. The scalability of Freenet is being evaluated, but similar architectures have been shown to scale logarithmically.[38] This work indicates that Freenet can find data in hops on a small-world network (which includes both opennet and darknet style Freenet networks), when ignoring the caching which could improve the scalability for popular content. However, this scalability is difficult to test without a very large network. Furthermore, the security features inherent to Freenet make detailed performance analysis (including things as simple as determining the size of the network) difficult to do accurately. As of now, the scalability of Freenet has yet to be tested.

Darknet versus Opennet

As of version 0.7, Freenet supports both "darknet" and "opennet" connections. Opennet connections are made automatically by nodes with opennet enabled, while darknet connections are manually established between users that know and trust each other. Freenet developers describe the trust needed as “will not crack their Freenet node”.[39] Opennet connections are easy to use, but darknet connections are more secure against attackers on the network, and can make it difficult for an attacker (such as an oppressive government) to even determine that a user is running Freenet in the first place.[40]

The core innovation in Freenet 0.7 is to allow a globally scalable darknet, capable (at least in theory) of supporting millions of users. Previous darknets, such as WASTE, have been limited to relatively small disconnected networks. The scalability of Freenet is made possible by the fact that human relationships tend to form small-world networks, a property that can be exploited to find short paths between any two people. The work is based on a speech given at DEF CON 13 by Ian Clarke and Swedish mathematician Oskar Sandberg. Furthermore, the routing algorithm is capable of routing over a mixture of opennet and darknet connections, allowing people who have only a few friends using the network to get the performance from having sufficient connections while still receiving some of the security benefits of darknet connections. This also means that small darknets where some users also have opennet connections are fully integrated into the whole Freenet network, allowing all users access to all content, whether they run opennet, darknet, or a hybrid of the two, except for darknet pockets connected only by a single hybrid node.[33]

Tools and applications

Frost screenshot
Screenshot of Frost running on Microsoft Windows

Unlike many other P2P applications Freenet does not provide comprehensive functionality itself. Freenet is modular and features an API called Freenet Client Protocol (FCP) for other programs to use to implement services such as message boards, file sharing, or online chat.[41]


Freenet Messaging System (FMS)
FMS was designed to address problems with Frost such as denial of service attacks and spam. Users publish trust lists, and each user downloads messages only from identities they trust and identities trusted by identities they trust. FMS is developed anonymously and can be downloaded from the FMS freesite within Freenet. It does not have an official site on the normal Internet. It features random post delay, support for many identities, and a distinction between trusting a user's posts and trusting their trust list. It is written in C++ and is a separate application from Freenet which uses the Freenet Client Protocol (FCP) to interface with Freenet.
Frost includes support for convenient file sharing, but its design is inherently vulnerable to spam and denial of service attacks.[42] Frost can be downloaded from the Frost home page on Sourceforge, or from the Frost freesite within Freenet. It is not endorsed by the Freenet developers. Frost is written in Java and is a separate application from Freenet.
Sone provides a simpler interface inspired by Facebook[43] with public anonymous discussions and image galleries. It provides an API for control from other programs[44] is also used to implement a comment system for static websites in the regular internet.[45][46]


jSite is a tool to upload websites. It handles keys and manages uploading files.
Infocalypse is an extension for the distributed revision control system Mercurial. It uses an optimized structure to minimize the number of requests to retrieve new data, and allows supporting a repository by securely reuploading most parts of the data without requiring the owner's private keys.[47]


FCPLib (Freenet Client Protocol Library) aims to be a cross-platform natively compiled set of C++-based functions for storing and retrieving information to and from Freenet. FCPLib supports Windows NT/2K/XP, Debian, BSD, Solaris, and macOS.
lib-pyFreenet exposes Freenet functionality to Python programs. Infocalypse uses it.


Law enforcement agencies have claimed to have successfully infiltrated freenet opennet in order to deanonymize users[48] but no technical details have been given to support these allegations. One report stated that, "A child-porn investigation focused on... [the suspect] when the authorities were monitoring the online network, Freenet."[49] A different report indicated arrests may have been based on the BlackICE project leaks, that are debunked for using bad math.[50]

A recent court case in the Peel Region of Ontario, Canada R. v. Owen, 2017 ONCJ 729 (CanLII), illustrated that Law Enforcement do in fact have a presence, after Peel Regional Police, located who had been downloading illegal material on the Freenet network.[51] The court decision indicates that a Canadian Law Enforcement agency operates nodes running modified Freenet software in the hope of determining who is requesting illegal material.


Freenet has had significant publicity in the mainstream press, including articles in The New York Times, and coverage on CNN, 60 Minutes II, the BBC, The Guardian,[52] and elsewhere.

Freenet received the SUMA-Award 2014 for "protection against total surveillance."[25][26][27]


A "freesite" is a site hosted on the Freenet network. Because it contains only static content, it cannot contain any active content like server side scripts or databases. Freesites are coded in HTML and support as many features as the browser viewing the page allows; however, there are some exceptions where the Freenet software will remove parts of the code that may be used to reveal the identity of the person viewing the page (making a page access something on the internet, for example).

Due to the much slower latency and bandwidth of the Freenet network, complex web technologies such as PHP and MySQL are impossible to use, making Freesites appear very simplistic, they are described by the community as being "90s-style".

See also

Comparable software


  1. ^ "People". Freenet: The Free Network official website. 22 September 2008. Archived from the original on 21 September 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2014.
  2. ^ "Freenet Project".
  3. ^ "Freenet REference Daemon. Contribute to freenet/fred development by creating an account on GitHub". 19 February 2019.
  4. ^ Language specific versions of Freenet, GitHub: Freenet.
  5. ^ What is Freenet? Archived 16 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Freenet: The Free network official website.
  6. ^ a b Taylor, Ian J. From P2P to Web Services and Grids: Peers in a Client/Server World. London: Springer, 2005.
  7. ^ Cohen, Adam (26 June 2000). "The Infoanarchist". TIME Magazine. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
  8. ^ Beckett, Andy (26 November 2009). "The dark side of the internet". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 8 September 2013. Retrieved 26 November 2009.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link) The Guardian writes about Freenet (Ian Clarke's response) Archived at WebCite
  9. ^ "Sone: Pseudonymes Microblogging über Freenet"., german article, 2010
  10. ^ "Infoclypse: A Mercurial plugin for decentral, anonymous version tracking and code-sharing over freenet". Archived from the original on 20 November 2011.
  11. ^ "Flog Helper: Easy Blogging over Freenet". 7 February 2019.
  12. ^ "Web Of Trust: A freenet plugin for pseudonymous, decentral spam resistance". 7 February 2019.
  13. ^ "Freenet over Sneakernet. Freenet Key: USK@MYLAnId-ZEyXhDGGbYOa1gOtkZZrFNTXjFl1dibLj9E,Xpu27DoAKKc8b0718E-ZteFrGqCYROe7XBBJI57pB4M,AQACAAE/Shoeshop/2/". Missing or empty |url= (help)
  14. ^ John Markoff (10 May 2000). "Cyberspace Programmers Confront Copyright Laws". The New York Times.
  15. ^ "Coders prepare son of Napster". BBC News. 12 March 2001.
  16. ^ "Fighting for free speech on the Net". CNN. 19 December 2005.
  17. ^ Ian Clarke. A distributed decentralised information storage and retrieval system. Unpublished report, Division of Informatics, University of Edinburgh, 1999.
  18. ^ a b Ian Clarke, Oskar Sandberg, Brandon Wiley, and Theodore W. Hong. Freenet: A Distributed Anonymous Information Storage and Retrieval System. In: Proceedings of the International Workshop on Designing Privacy Enhancing Technologies: Design Issues in Anonymity and Unobservability. New York, NY: Springer-Verlag, 2001, p. 46-66.
  19. ^ Clarke, Ian; Sandberg, Oskar; Wiley, Brandon; Hong, Theodore W. (24 March 2019). "Freenet: A Distributed Anonymous Information Storage and Retrieval System". Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. pp. 46–66 – via CiteSeer.
  20. ^ Singh, Munindar P. The Practical Handbook of Internet Computing. Boca Raton, Fl.: Chapman & Hall, 2005.
  21. ^ Ihlenfeld, Jens (4 April 2006). "Freenet 0.7 soll globales Darknet schaffen". Golem. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
  22. ^ release information for Freenet 0.7.5, last accessed 2015-09-17
  23. ^ release information for Freenet build 1226, last accessed 2015-09-17
  24. ^ Freenet 1468 release notes 2015
  25. ^ a b SUMA Award, 11 February 2015.
  26. ^ a b recording of the SUMA Award Ceremony 2015, published on 14 April 2015.
  27. ^ a b SUMA Award für das Freenet Projekt Jo Bager in Heise online, 2015
  28. ^ "The Philosophy behind Freenet".
  29. ^ Damm, Jens, and Simona Thomas. Chinese Cyberspaces Technological Changes and Political Effects. London: Routledge, 2006.
  30. ^ Toseland, Matthew. "Does Freenet qualify for DMCA Safe Harbor?". Retrieved 27 January 2013.
  31. ^ "IAAL*: What Peer-to-Peer Developers Need to Know about Copyright Law". 10 January 2006. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  32. ^ Clarke, Ian (2010). Private Communication Through a Network of Trusted Connections: The Dark Freenet (PDF). Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  33. ^ a b c Roos, Stefanie (2014). Measuring Freenet in the Wild: Censorship-Resilience under Observation (PDF). Springer International Publishing. pp. 263–282. ISBN 978-3-319-08505-0. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  34. ^ "FreeNet". Retrieved 25 January 2019.
  35. ^ "freesitemgr, code for inserting files as CHK, fixed revision". Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  36. ^ Babenhauserheide, Arne. "USK and Date-Hints: Finding the newest version of a site in Freenet's immutable datastore". Retrieved 29 November 2017. External link in |website= (help)
  37. ^ Babenhauserheide, Arne. "Effortless password protected sharing of files via Freenet". Retrieved 29 November 2017. External link in |website= (help)
  38. ^ Kleinberg, Jon (2000). "The Small-World Phenomenon: An Algorithmic Perspective" (PDF). Proceedings of the thirty-second annual ACM symposium on Theory of computing. pp. 163–70. doi:10.1145/335305.335325. ISBN 978-1-58113-184-0.
  39. ^ "Required trust for forming a darknet connection". random_babcom. 29 November 2017. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  40. ^ "Darknet-Fähigkeiten sollen Softwarenutzung verbergen". Golem. 9 May 2008. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  41. ^ Freenet Social Networking guide Justus Ranvier, 2013
  42. ^ Developer discussion about fixing Frost shortcomings Matthew Toseland, 2007
  43. ^ description of Sone by its developer, "it’s a Facebook clone on top of Freenet", retrieved 2015-09-15
  44. ^ Sone in Freenet Wiki, with the description of the FCP API, retrieved 2015-09-14
  45. ^ babcom description, “it submits a search request on your local Sone instance by creating an iframe with the right URL”, 2014.
  46. ^ "Sone".
  47. ^ "Information about infocalypse. A mirror of the included documentation".
  48. ^ Dickinson, Forum Communications Company 1815 1st Street West; at225-8111, North Dakota 58602 Call us. "news". The Dickinson Press.
  49. ^ "Man jailed indefinitely for refusing to decrypt hard drives loses appeal". Ars Technica. 20 March 2017. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  50. ^ "Police department's tracking efforts based on false statistics". Retrieved 23 September 2017.
  51. ^ "CanLII - 2017 ONCJ 729 (CanLII)".
  52. ^ The dark side of the internet Andy Beckett in the Guardian 2009

Further reading

  • Clarke, I.; Miller, S.G.; Hong, T.W.; Sandberg, O.; Wiley, B. (2002). "Protecting free expression online with Freenet" (PDF). IEEE Internet Computing. 6 (1): 40–9. CiteSeerX doi:10.1109/4236.978368.
  • Von Krogh, Georg; Spaeth, Sebastian; Lakhani, Karim R (2003). "Community, joining, and specialization in open source software innovation: A case study". Research Policy. 32 (7): 1217–41. doi:10.1016/S0048-7333(03)00050-7.
  • Dingledine, Roger; Freedman, Michael J.; Molnar, David (2001). "The Free Haven Project: Distributed Anonymous Storage Service". Designing Privacy Enhancing Technologies. Lecture Notes in Computer Science. pp. 67–95. CiteSeerX doi:10.1007/3-540-44702-4_5. ISBN 978-3-540-41724-8.
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External links

Anonymous P2P

An anonymous P2P communication system is a peer-to-peer distributed application in which the nodes, which are used to share resources, or participants are anonymous or pseudonymous. Anonymity of participants is usually achieved by special routing overlay networks that hide the physical location of each node from other participants.

Interest in anonymous P2P systems has increased in recent years for many reasons, ranging from the desire to share files without revealing one's network identity and risking litigation to distrust in governments, concerns over mass surveillance and data retention, and lawsuits against bloggers.

Data haven

A data haven, like a corporate haven or tax haven, is a refuge for uninterrupted or unregulated data. Data havens are locations with legal environments that are friendly to the concept of a computer network freely holding data and even protecting its content and associated information. They tend to fit into three categories: a physical locality with weak information-system enforcement and extradition laws, a physical locality with intentionally strong protections of data, and virtual domains designed to secure data via technical means (such as encryption) regardless of any legal environment.

Tor's onion space (hidden service), HavenCo (centralized), and Freenet (decentralized) are three models of modern-day virtual data havens.

Distributed hash table

A distributed hash table (DHT) is a class of a decentralized distributed system that provides a lookup service similar to a hash table: (key, value) pairs are stored in a DHT, and any participating node can efficiently retrieve the value associated with a given key. Keys are unique identifiers which map to particular values, which in turn can be anything from addresses, to documents, to arbitrary data. Responsibility for maintaining the mapping from keys to values is distributed among the nodes, in such a way that a change in the set of participants causes a minimal amount of disruption. This allows a DHT to scale to extremely large numbers of nodes and to handle continual node arrivals, departures, and failures.

DHTs form an infrastructure that can be used to build more complex services, such as anycast, cooperative Web caching, distributed file systems, domain name services, instant messaging, multicast, and also peer-to-peer file sharing and content distribution systems. Notable distributed networks that use DHTs include BitTorrent's distributed tracker, the Coral Content Distribution Network, the Kad network, the Storm botnet, the Tox instant messenger, Freenet, the YaCy search engine, and the InterPlanetary File System.

Entropy (anonymous data store)

Entropy was a decentralized, peer-to-peer communication network designed to be resistant to censorship, much like Freenet. Entropy was an anonymous data store written in the C programming language. It pooled the contributed bandwidth and storage space of member computers to allow users to anonymously publish or retrieve information of all kinds. The name Entropy was a backronym for "Emerging Network To Reduce Orwellian Potency Yield", referring to George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four and its totalitarian thought police enslaving people by controlling their information.

Entropy was designed to be compatible with the similar Freenet system. As such, any Freenet client could be configured to run on the Entropy network. However, Entropy and Freenet data stores are not compatible with each other and therefore do not share data.

Entropy featured a news interface, for reading and posting on the latest frost message boards from within the client.


A free-net was originally a computer system or network that provided public access to digital resources and community information, including personal communications, through modem dialup via the public switched telephone network. The concept originated in the health sciences to provide online help for medical patients. With the development of the Internet free-net systems became the first to offer limited Internet access to the general public to support the non-profit community work. The Cleveland Free-Net (, founded in 1986, was the pioneering community network of this kind in the world.Any person with a personal computer, or through access from public terminal in libraries, could register for accounts on a free-net, and was assigned an email address. Other services often included Usenet newsgroups, chat rooms, IRC, telnet, and archives of community information, delivered either with text-based Gopher software or later the World-Wide Web.

The word mark Free-Net was a registered trademark of the National Public Telecomputing Network (NPTN), founded in 1989 by Tom Grundner at Case Western Reserve University. NPTN was a non-profit organization dedicated to establishing and developing, free, public access, digital information and communication services for the general public. It closed operations in 1996, filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, prior use of the term created some conflicts. NPTN distributed the software package FreePort, developed at Case Western Reserve, that was used and licensed by many of the free-net sites.

The Internet domain name was first registered by the Greater Detroit Free-Net (, a non-profit community system in Detroit, Mi, and a member of the NPTN. The Greater Detroit Free-Net provided other subdomains to several free-net systems during its operation from 1993 to approximately 2001.

Unlike commercial Internet service providers, free-nets originally provided direct terminal-based dialup, instead of other networked connections, such as Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP). The development of Internet access with cheaper and faster connections, and the advent of the World-Wide Web made the original free-net community concept obsolete.

A number of free-nets, including the original Cleveland Free-Net, have shut down or changed their focus. Free-nets have always been locally governed, so interpretation of their mission to remove barriers to access and provide a forum for community information, as well as services offered, can vary widely. As text-based Internet became less popular, some of the original free-nets have made available PPP dialup and more recently DSL services, as a revenue generating mechanism, with some now transitioning into the community wireless movement.

Several free-net systems continue under new mission statements. Rochester Free-Net (Rochester, New York), for instance, focuses on hosting community service organizations (over 500 to date) as well as seminars about Internet use to the community at no charge. Austin FreeNet (Austin, Texas) now provides technology training and access to residents of the city, "fostering skills that enable people to succeed in a digital age."

Freenet (Central Asia)

This article describes national internet structures in Central Asia which are referred to as freenet. A separate article describes the decentralized censorship-resistant peer-to-peer file sharing software known as Freenet. There is also a text-based community computer network which offers limited Internet services, at little or no cost, and is known as a "freenet."Several Internet networks in Central Asia, specifically, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan are financed by USAID and other United States governmental authorities and are called Freenet. In contrast with the decentralized censorship-resistant peer-to-peer file sharing software called Freenet, which is specifically designed to be very censorship-resistant, and in fact, to increase distribution of information in the case of censorship attempts, there is little information regarding the independence of the Central Asian networks from censorship by the operating authorities.

Another Internet network, initiated by the UNDP, including support from USAID, was started in Armenia in 1997 and is also called Freenet. As of 2005, users of Freenet in Armenia cannot access web pages on servers outside of Armenia. Apart from this restriction on website access, the degree of censorship on Freenet in Armenia is unknown.

Freenet (disambiguation)

Freenet is a pioneering anonymous peer-to-peer distributed data store

Freenet may also refer to:

Freenet (Central Asia), certain national internet structures in Central Asia

Free-Net, a text-based community computer network which offers limited Internet services, at little or no cost, is also known as a "free-net"

Wireless community network, the term "freenet" is commonly used to refer to "free networks"., a German Internet service provider

National Capital FreeNet, a community organization internet service provider in Ottawa

Freenet (ISP) New Zealand's first free internet service provider

Freenet (radio), a Personal Mobile Radio system in Germany

Freenet (radio)

Freenet is a personal mobile radio network in Germany. It was originally introduced in 1996 as a product name of Motorola and uses part of the frequency spectrum of the former B-Netz carphone network.

The original frequency allocation for Freenet encompassed three channels, each with a 12.5 kHz spacing. In January 2007, three additional channels were added, bringing the total up to six.

The ordinance only permits handheld transceivers which must not permit an effective radiated power (ERP) of 500 mW. Only specially certified and licensed transceivers may be used; the manufacturer must provide a declaration of conformity as well as a concise manual in German and a CE mark. The user is not permitted to modify the device.

The Federal Network Agency has laid out strict parameters for modulation, bandwidth and channel spacing in its ordinance.

In practice, relatively high prices for Freenet devices have kept away domestic users from the service. Oftentimes, modified amateur radio transceivers are used, violating the restrictions for the Freenet service.

With the maximum permitted ERP of 500 mW, a range of 1 km can be assumed. Due to the lower frequencies in the VHF band, signal attenuation from objects, such as houses and trees, is not as high as in the UHF band used by SRD and PMR446 radios.

Originally, the Freenet frequencies were allocated until the end of 2005. The Federal Network Agency has extended this allocation until 31 January 2025.

Freenet AG

Freenet AG (formerly AG) is a German telecommunications and web content provider. The company was formerly a subsidiary of Mobilcom. In 2004, its EBITDA was 471.5 million euro. In 2007, merged with Mobilcom, a deal which took around two years to complete, and the resulting company changed its name to Freenet AG. In July 2008 Freenet AG acquired debitel AG, another German telecommunications company.The company was formerly active in the provision of broadband Internet services, but sold this unit to United Internet for €123 million in 2009.

Freenet digital GmbH

freenet digital GmbH (formerly Fox Mobile Entertainment (FME) and Jesta Digital) is a German mobile content provider, including wireless carriers and handset manufacturers. The company has operated Jamba, Jamster, Mobizzo, BitBop, iLove, and Motility Ads.


A friend-to-friend (or F2F) computer network is a type of peer-to-peer network in which users only make direct connections with people they know. Passwords or digital signatures can be used for authentication.

Unlike other kinds of private P2P, users in a friend-to-friend network cannot find out who else is participating beyond their own circle of friends, so F2F networks can grow in size without compromising their users' anonymity. Retroshare, WASTE, GNUnet, Freenet and OneSwarm are examples of software that can be used to build F2F networks, though RetroShare is the only one of these configured for friend-to-friend operation by default.

Many F2F networks support indirect anonymous or pseudonymous communication between users who do not know or trust one another. For example, a node in a friend-to-friend overlay can automatically forward a file (or a request for a file) anonymously between two friends, without telling either of them the other's name or IP address. These friends can in turn automatically forward the same file (or request) to their own friends, and so on.

Dan Bricklin coined the term "friend-to-friend network" in 2000.

Ian Clarke (computer scientist)

Ian Clarke (born 16 February 1977) is the original designer and lead developer of Freenet.

National Capital FreeNet

National Capital FreeNet (NCF) (French: Libertel de la Capitale Nationale), is a non-profit community organization internet service provider, with the goal of linking people in Canada's capital of Ottawa and ensuring no Ottawa citizens would be excluded from internet access.Founded in September 1992 with the active participation of volunteers, Carleton University, and private industry (which donated communications equipment), NCF was one of the first free-nets set up worldwide and was patterned after the Cleveland Free-Net that had been established at Case Western Reserve University in 1984. Within a year of its establishment NCF had over 10,000 members.NCF offers broadband (DSL) and dial-up service to people in the national capital region; in early 2012, over 4,000 members used its dial-up service.

Oskar Sandberg

Oskar Sandberg is a key contributor to the Freenet Project, and a PhD graduate of the Chalmers Technical University in Gothenburg, Sweden. Oskar collaborated with Ian Clarke to design the new "darknet" model employed in Freenet 0.7, work which was presented at the DEF CON security conference in July 2005. Oskar recently completed a Ph.D. about the mathematics of complex networks, especially with regard to the small world phenomenon. Besides this he has an active interest in distributed computer networks and network security, and has been an active contributor to the Freenet Project since 1999. Oskar now works at Google.

Peer-to-peer web hosting

Peer-to-peer web hosting is using peer-to-peer networking to distribute access to webpages. This is differentiated from the client–server model which involves the distribution of Web data between dedicated web servers and user-end client computers.

P2P web hosting may take the form of P2P web caches ( and content delivery networks like Dijjer and Coral Cache which allow users to hold copies of data from single web pages and distribute the caches with other users for faster access during peak traffic.

Steve Stanton

Steven David Stanton (born April 5, 1956 in Brampton, Ontario) is a Canadian author, editor, and publisher.

He founded Skysong Press in 1988 and published the fanzine Dreams & Visions for twenty years, as well as the Sky Songs anthology series, 2002-2005. He served on the Board of Directors of SF Canada for seven years from 2007-2014, including three years as President of the association from 2011-2014, when he established the bilingual SF Canada Awards.Steve Stanton's science fiction stories have been published in sixteen countries and a dozen languages, and his cyberpunk trilogy, The Bloodlight Chronicles, was published by ECW Press in Toronto: this trilogy consists of Reconciliation (2010), Retribution (2011), and Redemption (2012). Library Journal said this "elegantly written" science fiction series "revitalizes the cyber-fiction genre with its vivid prose and believable characters." A fourth science fiction novel, Freenet, was published in 2016 by ECW Press.


Tahoe-LAFS (Tahoe Least-Authority File Store) is a free and open, secure, decentralized, fault-tolerant, distributed data store and distributed file system. It can be used as an online backup system, or to serve as a file or Web host similar to Freenet, depending on the front-end used to insert and access files in the Tahoe system. Tahoe can also be used in a RAID-like fashion using multiple disks to make a single large Redundant Array of Inexpensive Nodes (RAIN) pool of reliable data storage.

The system is designed and implemented around the "principle of least authority" (POLA). Strict adherence to this convention is enabled by the use of cryptographic capabilities that provide the minimum set of privileges necessary to perform a given task by asking agents. A RAIN array acts as a storage volume; these servers do not need to be trusted by confidentiality or integrity of the stored data.


Winny (also known as WinNY) is a Japanese peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing program which claims to be loosely inspired by the design principles behind the Freenet network, which makes user identities untraceable. While Freenet was implemented in Java, Winny was implemented as a Windows C++ application.The software takes its name from WinMX, where the M and the X are each advanced one letter in the Latin alphabet, to N and Y. Netagent published a survey in June 2018 suggesting that Winny was still the most popular p2p network in Japan ahead of Perfect Dark (P2P) and Share (P2P) with approximately 45 000 nodes connecting each day over Golden Week. Winny users mainly deal in books/manga. The number of nodes on Winny appears to be holding steady compared with 2015.

Like Freenet, each client functions as a node. Initially, a search returns few results, but one can set up "clusters" based on certain keywords, and over time, one's client will find nodes with pieces of the file sought.

The software was developed by Isamu Kaneko, who was a research assistant in graduate course of computer engineering at the University of Tokyo in Japan. He was also once a researcher at the Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute. Kaneko originally anonymously announced his intent of developing the software on the Download Software board of the popular 2channel (2ch for short) Japanese bulletin board site. Since 2ch users often refer to anonymous users by their post numbers, Kaneko came to be known as "Mr. 47" ("47-Shi", or 47氏 in Japanese), or just "47". Kaneko died on the 6 July 2013 after suffering a heart attack.After Winny's development stopped, a new peer-to-peer application, Share, was developed to be a successor.

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