Friday, July 10, 2009

[mnzedgcg] Equal opportunity censorship

I dislike how sites such as Youtube are censored by a variety of reasons and methods, all highly non-transparent. They include the site's own terms of service, questionable copyright claims on copyright law passed by corrupt politicians bribed by copyright owners (e.g., DMCA), government laws regarding obscenity based on "community standards" and literary, artistic, political or scientific "merit".

Imagine a site which simplifies the censorship so that no entity, not the site nor a copyright claimant nor the government has special power or privilege above someone else to censor someone else. Freenet has implemented one extreme, where no one can censor anyone (deletion is not possible).

Consider the other extreme, where anyone can censor. It's clean and "transparent" in the sense that there is nothing special to see. If a copyright claimant or a private vigilante against obscenity or anyone at all wants to censor an item, simply go to the item's page, click on "Censor This!", and complete a CAPTCHA (only humans are allowed to censor, preventing automated trolls).

Here is how a site like this could work: after uploading, the site responds with an unique new address with which you can go back to the uploaded object. By default, the site publishes the address no where else. It is up to the uploader to disseminate the address if he or she wants other people to see it.

No doubt there will be alternating upload and censorship battles over certain items. To "accelerate" such a battle, along with a "Censor This!" button, another button is provided: "Request duplicate address" which after completing a CAPTCHA, a different address is generated for the same content. This saves bandwidth from the uploader uploading the object again after it's been censored to get a new address. Someone may share an object with trusted friends without fear of the object being censored, but if there is a snitch or traitor among the friends, it will get deleted. But the ability to get multiple addresses for the same object (with the effort of solving multiple CAPTCHAs) allows the uploader to distribute different addresses to different friends, see which gets censored to uncover the snitch. Using clever binary search, it is possible to discover a single traitor among 2n friends while needing to generate only O(n) addresses.

Somewhat tangentially, I think the server may store the uploaded objects encrypted so that it does not itself know the contents of the uploaded objects. (Plausible deniability in case of a government raid on the server hardware.) The encryption key is encoded into part of the address that is given to the uploader. Some cryptographic magic (indirection?) is required to be able to generate multiple address for the same content while conserving storage.

Other sites can build on top of this site, perhaps for address dissemination, tagging and categorizing, playlists, etc. Interface with social networking to disseminate among friends and discover traitors.

1 comment :

Ken said...

I think we need to be able to group a collection of objects. Or is that a job for higher or lower level tools?