The case for a decentralized internet | Tamas Kocsis

The case for a decentralized internet | Tamas Kocsis


Three years ago, I started building a decentralized web because I was worried
about the future of our internet. The current internet we are using
is about gatekeepers. If you want to reach something on the web, then you need to go
through multiple middlemen. First, a domain name server, then a server hosting company, which usually points you to a third party, to a web hosting service. And this happens every time
you want to reach a website on the web. But these gatekeepers are
vulnerable to internet attacks and also makes the censorship
and the surveillance easier. And the situation is getting worse. Everything is moving to the cloud, where the data is hosted
by giant corporations. This move creates much,
much more powerful middlemen. Now, move to the cloud makes sense because this way it’s easier and cheaper for the developers
and the service operators. They don’t have to worry
about maintaining the physical servers. I can’t blame them, but I found
this trend to be very dangerous, because this way, these giant corporations have unlimited control
over the hosting services. And it’s very easy to abuse this power. For example, last year, a CEO of a company that acts as a gatekeeper
for nine million websites decided, after some public pressure, that one of the sites it manages, a far right page, should be blocked. He then sent an internal email
to his coworkers. “This was an arbitrary decision. I woke up this morning in a bad mood and decided to kick them
off the Internet.” Even he admits, “No one should have this power.” As a response, one of
the employees asked him, “Is this the day the Internet dies?” I don’t think we are actually
killing the internet, but I do think that we are in the middle of a kind of irresponsible
centralization process that makes our internet more fragile. The decentralized, people-to-people web solves this problem
by removing the central points, the web-hosting services. It empowers the users to have host sites they want to preserve. On this network, the sites get downloaded
directly from other visitors. This means, if you have a site
with 100 visitors, then it’s hosted
[by] 100 computers around the world. Basically, this is a people-powered
version of the internet. The security of the network
is provided by public-key cryptography. This makes sure that no one
can modify the sites but only the real owner. Think of it like instead of getting
electricity from big power plants, you put solar panels on top of your house, and if your neighbor down the street
needs some extra energy, then they can just download
some from your house. So by using the decentralized web, we can help to keep content
accessible for other visitors. And by that, it means that we can also fight against things that we feel are unjust, like censorship. In China, the internet
is tightly controlled. They can’t criticize the government, organize a protest, and it’s also forbidden to post a kind of emoticon to remember the victims
of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. With the decentralized web,
it’s not the government that decides what gets seen and what doesn’t. It’s the people, which makes the web more democratic. But at the same time,
it’s hard to use this network to do something that is clearly illegal everywhere in the world, as the users probably
don’t want to endanger themselves hosting these kinds
of problematic content. Another increasing threat to internet freedom is overregulation. I have the impression that our delegates who vote on the internet regulation laws are not fully aware of their decisions. For example, the European Parliament
has a new law on the table, a new copyright protection law, that has a part called Article 13. If it passes, it would require
every big website to implement a filter that automatically blocks content based on rules controlled
by big corporations. The original idea is
to protect copyrighted materials, but it would endanger many other things
we do on the internet: blogging, criticizing,
discussing, linking and sharing. Google and YouTube
already have similar systems and they are receiving
100,000 takedown requests every hour. Of course, they can’t process
this amount of data by hand, so they are using machine learning to decide if it’s really
a copyright violation or not. But these filters do make mistakes. They’re removing everything
from documentation of human rights abuses, lectures about copyrights and search results that point to criticism
of this new Article 13. Beside of that, they are also
removing many other things. And sometimes, these filters
aren’t just removing the specific content, but it could also lead
to loss of your linked accounts: your email address,
your documents, your photos, or your unfinished book, which happened
with the writer Dennis Cooper. It’s not hard to see
how a system like this could be abused by politicians and corporate competitors. This Article 13, the extension of these
automated filters to the whole internet, got strong opposition from Wikipedia, Github,
Mozilla, and many others, including the original founders
of the internet and the World Wide Web, Vint Cerf and Tim Berners-Lee. But despite this strong opposition, on the last European Parliament vote, two thirds of the representatives
supported this law. The final vote will be early 2019. The result is important, but whatever happens, I’m pretty sure it will be followed
by many other similar proposals around the world. These kinds of regulations
would be very hard to enforce through a decentralized web, as there is no hosting companies. The websites are served
by the visitors themselves. I started to build
this network three years ago. Since then, I’ve spent thousands,
tens of thousands of hours on the development. Why? Why would anyone spend thousands of hours
on something anyone can freely copy, rename, or even sell? Well, in my case, one of the reasons was
to do something meaningful. During my daily regular job
as a web developer, I didn’t have the feeling
that I’m working on something that had a chance to be a bigger than me. Simply, I just wanted to make
my short presence in this world to be meaningful. Last year, the Great Firewall of China
started blocking this network I created. This move officially made me the enemy of the government-supported
internet censorship. Since then, it’s been really
a game of cat and mouse. They make new rules in the firewall and I try to react to it as fast as I can so the users can keep hosting content
and create websites that otherwise would be censored
by the centralized Chinese internet. My other motivation
to create this network was worry. I fear that the future of our internet
is out of our control. The increasing centralization
and the proposed laws are threatening our freedom of speech and, by that, our democracy. So for me, building a decentralized web means creating a safe harbor, a space where the rules are not written
by big corporations and political parties, but by the people. Thank you. (Applause)

Danny Hutson

85 thoughts on “The case for a decentralized internet | Tamas Kocsis

  1. You, the person who is reading this .. As a human being , I love you .. we have come a long way since our ancestors… I dont think we will ever see each other for the rest of the life… Thats okay… just wanted to spread My love….Good luck with you. Find the way friend .

  2. There are 350 million people in the Internet in China,
    but only a very small number of people use Google search.
    This is because China's firewall keeps all companies outside the border.

  3. The root of the problem is a lack of free speech law in most of the "free" world. It sets a standard that is dangerous for all of us. Combine this with monopolies and you have a system that needs to be decentralized.

  4. There is no amount of money that can replace a blogpost or youtube deleted channel and that is a real problem .
    We are not civilized enough to even consider such a power as the internet but its too late .
    God help us all

  5. they did the same with nikola tesla when he tried to decentralized electricity they will definitely do the same with the next source of power. Tanas Kocsis I wish you luck but you must learn from tesla mistake that is people in power won't allow humanity the chance to progress keep that in mind while you working on your project

  6. The internet itself is already decentralized but connecting to it isn't and I don't know what magic piece of technology he claims to have built but wifi signals and ethernet connections don't just happen out of thin air…There must be physical devices/infrastructure to support the service…take his analogy about "downloading" energy from your neighbour's solar panel enabled house…well how will you manage this?….that's right but running a power cable/line from their home to yours…which makes your neighbour an energy producers and the cable connection the infrastructure and service through which you get your energy…is that sustainable or scalable?…I think this is more a question of free speech and company regulation more than anything else.

  7. Great idea, but unrealistic. Look to the inception of the
    internet (Present day) by the code developed by Tim Berners-Lee. His idea was
    the same and he gave the code away for free. But what we fail to see or admit
    is the Achilles of Human Beings. Power and Monopolization leads towards
    manipulation on what they want you to see or not see. Democracy?? Look to the
    current politics in the United States of America. The worst polarization of all
    time. No one will work together because of their ideology. It's like telling
    Keven to share his toy with Karren in Kindergarten School. So, we're all
    dealing with a Kindergarten mentality. In fact, I believe we're all on that
    level as the development stage we find ourselves at present. Meaning in a
    nutshell…. It’s all about Control and Tamas is providing for us, in theory,
    will be infected in the same way as the internet we have now. Harsh? Yes,
    but realistic. Or a Truism.

  8. Dont see how this works for the web2.0; if someone post something new onto a decentralized website, can "it" (the hundreds of individuals hosting the site) even update?

  9. When there are communists liberals and other lefty maniacs in the world, there will never be true freedom. Look at China, they are weaponizing the internet against the people with their social points system.

  10. If only vimeo could get it together. Convinced YouTube's enforcement a-team includes a monkey who learned how to make s'mores and a dead person in rigormortis.

  11. an internet without regulations can not work. every single state on earth has a police, simply because people are egoistic. and its not different on the web. especially here we need regulations. i agree that companys should not have this power, but having no regulations wont help…

  12. If you want an example of someone removed from the Internet, look up the strean Internet Juche by Kiwi Farms. This is a guy who got kicked off the Internet by PayPal alone because one user complained. And this is someone who criticizes furries. Imagine what power someone with more teeth has against critics of governments.

  13. I don't totally disagree with this guy, but if you're going to suggest something like this, you at least need solutions. If there are no isp's in this perfect decentralised Internet, how are we to connect to Jo blogs server in his mother's basement without running a direct cable from his house to ours?

  14. i just wonder why China should control those free speech, but actually, most of the college students can use the VPN to cross the wall, except those negative factors, the huge population base with the majority of them do not get well-educated can be one reason, the complex environment is taken into consideration, maybe it is much better to set the wall.

  15. The ability to run your own server has never been more accessible. Setting up and maintaining your own server is cheaper and easier than people make it out to be. The hyperlink was invented to allow decentralized systems to link to each other. The real issue is despite everything needed to put together your own web-site on your own resources being nearly free aside from an internet connection, is that people are simply not willing to put into the work and would rather pay someone else. "Democratic" is just mob rule. Freedom means the individual and the individual alone decides what they want to post. In the United States we have freedom of the press. Which means the printing press. As in you can not only say what you want, put print what you want. But you need to learn how to build your own "printing press" with a cheap computer, a static IP and some free software.

    HTML5 has now made it trivial to host your own streaming videos as well. There is literally no reason to use YouTube aside from the built in audience. But if you do your own work promoting your own self, you don't need them.

    Nothing demands you use the large centralized systems.

  16. Isn't the "Dark Web" essentially a decentralized Internet which is practically impossible for authorities to regulate?

  17. Nice sentiment in an ideal world.

    The company's that lay the infrastructure control connectivity.
    Neighbours steeling extra energy from your house?
    Democracy or mob rule?
    Linking and sharing or hacking?
    China is one of the most powerful countries in the world! Think about it?

  18. To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
    To live is the rarest thing in the World. Most people exist, that is all. (Oscar Wilde)
    Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results. (Narcotics Ananymous)

    When the time spent on the Internet goes out of purpose, the human becomes stupid.
    Your life is in your hands, to make of it what you choose.

    "Know that the life of this world is but amusement and diversion and adornment and boasting to one another and competition in increase of wealth and children.
    (The Noble Qur'an. Surah Hadid. Verse:20)"
    For those who want to listen more.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVY8pwx9B74
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVqY9TYEkvk
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Omh4oG8T_Fw

  19. How is IP protected from N Korea, Russia, and China then? Not everyone can monitor their own system to be safe from sophisticated attack.

  20. Totally, nonsense. A lot of people love western movies. It was a kind of decentralized society. Ask yourself if you like it? If you want to live in a community like that? Of course, we are no longer the ones who would kill others when we are in a bad mode. But rumors are killing knife. A decentralized web sounds great but it is a hotbed for rumors as well. Although we believe rumors will eventually be confirmed as rumors, a person, an organization, a nation, a country or a race will be hurt or destroyed during the process. Have you thought about this before you advocate your stupid decentralized web technology?

  21. I've never been a fan of "the cloud". They've taken a backup-process and made it the primary for reasons for control, like Tamas says. Remote data storage for tertiary purposes are great, but to rely on them for the live content is a terrible idea. Now that data storage is so much cheaper and more reliable, everyone should re-examine maintaining their own systems again.

  22. Tor does this in a much better way but it's still freaking slow. Once 5G and fiber connections become mainstream everyone will just use Tor, we don't need a new fancy web technology. We just need bigger speeds and politicians that serve us instead of the big companies.

  23. beaker browser is a pipe dream. I watched a talk by one of it's founders and even she admitted most people would end up having to pay a central hosting company to host it. Tor is far better at stopping isps from cutting off websites and issues with hosters is quickly fixed if you have even a slight knowledge of what you're doing. Your hoster pulls you well you just upload the code to another server, redirect the dns and done. Ask pirate bay how easy it is to deal with that 😉 As for filters, you know the mob will still demand it. People are forever attacking FB, Google, Twitter etc for not pulling down things fast enough. Blaming them for fake news, offensive videos, hate speech etc.

  24. The control of internet privacy started from Facebook or the whole social media since 2011 onwards because before that i.e before 2008 internet was so good and not addictive at all after all it was just a web. Lol am typing it in Youtube now, maybe not good.

  25. Now, how do you explain that ZeroNet will not abuse its power when it become popular?

    I think when someone really put worries about data collection, just use 'darknet'. The problem is big companies & goverment really hate it because it hard to control.

    So, (perhaps) there is some kind of regulation that will make darknet illegal in the future.

  26. Nothing new here. It's an aplication of the blockchain technology. Anyway that's a major issue and a good idea to explore.

  27. Nothing new here. It's an aplication of the blockchain technology. Anyway that's a major issue and a good idea to explore.

  28. TED TALK exercises censorship, Censorship is bad, Shame on TED Talks
    I am so disappointed since I used to suggest to everyone I would meet that they should listen to TED
    I support a decentralized internet or this vary reason

  29. Mmmmyeah… giving far right groups as examples isn't the right move. A lot of them spew hate and incite to hate and violence towards other social and ethnic groups, they lie and mislead. Free speech was coined to exchange ideas not to brainwash others into it. As for your example case, the internet is already decentralized. If you choose the bigger middle man it's because he gave you a service cheaper. If you chose a P2P style internet, you'll get into a lot of trouble, because this model has already been tried, it's called BitTorrent, and as it turns out, people don't want to give to others, the majority just want to leech. There's a reason there are middlemen with capable infrastructure.
    Nice talk but pointless for people in the business… you might attract the curiosity of non-tech-invested people, though.

  30. Its best to have it decentralized, so that we control the government. Instead of the government controlling us. Cause without censorship, there is no way for them to control us. The information against any nefarious schemes or corruption or evil deeds, is simply too widespread for them to weasel out of it. Its why there's a war on independent journalists and independent content creators now. They must silence them by deplatforming and attacking their means of funding, or else they won't be in control for long. The independent journalists and content creators will see it it (via free speech) that they're ruined. So without censorship, we control the government. With it, we get george orwell mode and the government controls us. Thus, decentralization is vital.

  31. that's a plain talk… a decentralised web with a lot of smiling faces connected is technically hard and their is little funding. they are mostly (zeronet, mastodon, …) donation funded. with the ActivityPub (And other w3c social group recommendations) we see the services emerging that seem to make good progress, but it is hard.

  32. Is that means no one has the right to delete anyone else's speech? Then means everyone can do whatever he/she wants on the internet without any supervision?
    I can see a whole new darknet come out.

  33. The western world is trading false emotional comfort for the very foundation it's built upon, freedom of speech. The internet needs to be taken back by the corporations and the governments and given back to the people.

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