Decentralized Domains


DotP2P is a “free, de-centralized and open” Domain Name Service (DNS) partially powered by the peer-to-peer file-sharing protocol BIT Torrent. The effort to create an uncensorable file-sharing system started last week in direct response to the seizure of Torrent Finder, a search engine that was targeted by the Department of Justice and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement as part of “Cyber Monday Crackdown.” The government crackdown was aimed at “commercial websites engaged in the illegal sale and distribution of counterfeit goods and copyrighted works,” including three sites that directly or indirectly linked to music files. But the DOJ has yet to clarify why it seized Torrent Finder, a BIT Torrent meta-search engine that merely re-directs users to other sites, does not facilitate piracy, and has no searchable file archive of its own.

DotP2P’s teams of programmers, communicators, and network specialists are working to create a “network with no centralized points of failure (per the original design of the internet).” It is an application that can be installed on a computer to catch all requests to the peer-to-peer domain and redirect them to a locally hosted DNS system, while passing all other requests along. The application only affects the new P2P domains and does not interfere with any others. Peer to peer domains could potentially combat DNS level censorship in US domain hierarchies as well as systems in countries like Iran and China.

The community-based DNS system is set up to protect domain owners from “unjust prosecution and denial of service,” effects of increasing anti-piracy efforts around the world. One point of concern is how easy it is for government agencies to seize DNS entries since “several top level domains are managed by US-based corporations . . . that work closely with the Department of Commerce.” Another possible threat to the open internet is the Combating Online Infringement and Conterfeits Act (COICA), which would extend government censorship powers. Despite the wave of anti-piracy crackdowns, it is encouraging to see such a swift response from a community that is “not an official organization” and has no named founder. Just a week after starting the project, a DotP2P team member said a beta version of the client could be released shortly. The temporary p2pDNS blog notes “an alternative system is not far away.”

image by nevolution on Flickr via Creative Commons licensing.