Secrets and P2P


I am reading "The Zenith Angle" by Bruce Sterling. Bruce is an odd guy, spends half his time at wizz-bang tech-futurist conferences, spends the other half worrying about spooks, virus writers, scammers, black markets, failed states.

Anyway. A major theme of P2P development is untraceable communications and downloads. The noble aspect of this is software that will let people talk freely in countries with censorship (China, Iran, etc). It also means people can share music without some asshole suing them. Free the music, dude.

Ok, so i been there, done that scene. But i'm starting to think maybe Bruce is right. You make a network that's about secrets, you get the people who's business is secrets: extortionists, scammers, kiddy-porn, drug runners, mafia, spooks. Maybe you can't have the one without the other.

Meanwhile, there's no lack of bloggers in China and Iran. Does it help them to have this software? Maybe not. What's the worth of secret communications if you don't know who's speaking. They can talk about some horrible thing the government is doing, but maybe it's just some kid making stuff up.

To be believed, you have to have an identity. Unfortunately this also puts you in the line of fire. Again, maybe you can't have one without the other.

So i'll propose this new P2P agenda: step into the light. Go legitimate. Establish bullet-proof protocols for verifying identity. Open all the source. P2P can be the place without secrets, without spyware, without virus-riddled closed source code, without identity-obscured spam, without a black market. P2P can be a verified child-safe environment if you tick the appropriate checkbox. A civic space.

Censorship proof, ominpresent, but always with verifiable identities. They can track us down and kill us, but everyone will know who they are and what you did. Make it so they don't dare hurt anyone. That might actually turn out safer than just trying not to get caught.

<sing> You can't kill the network. Nobody can kill the network. </sing>