Recently, the controversial issue of censorship on Big Tech platforms reached a turning point when US President Donald Trump’s campaign account on Twitter and Facebook was banned for “spreading misinformation about the Coronavirus.”
Talk about who controls the information that reaches non-new audiences. As we move towards Web 3.0, many believe that this future version of the Internet will be a more decentralized, unchanged, and censored version of the Internet.
Interplanetary File System, or IPFS, a decentralized storage solution is a peer-to-peer hypermedia protocol designed to make the Internet “faster, safer, and more open.” It allows users to download web pages and content stored across multiple sites instead of a central server. With the current form, there is no reliable way to access it again if something changes or gets blocked. IPFS aims to address these and other shortcomings.
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Security, privacy, scalability, and efficiency limitations for Web 2.0
As mentioned, since the data is currently stored on central servers, it can be accessed, modified or deleted by any party controlling the server. From a security and privacy perspective, this is an issue because server administration is the equivalent of managing data. It might be a legitimate party, but it could also be an infiltrator or a political power.
When Turkey decided to block Wikipedia, IPFS technology was used to host a replica of Wikipedia, so the site was still available. The Catalan Pirate Party used it to bypass the Catalan Supreme Court’s blocking of websites related to the Catalan independence referendum. Chinese news source Matters.news has also used IPFS to bypass censorship articles.
The current Internet Protocol is based on location-based address, which specifies data by location rather than by content. Even if the same data is available at a closer location, it will still be pulled to a specific location / address to access the data, which is a limitation in terms of efficiency.
We’ve served this satisfactorily so far, but only because the average website size was relatively small – the average website size increased from 2 KB to 2MB in the first two decades of the internet. Now that large amounts of data and HD video on demand are emerging, people are starting to consume and produce more and more data. Scalability is more important than ever.
Distributed hash tables provide efficient access to and search for content
Using Kademlia’s Distributed Hash Tables, or DHTs, IPFS P2P distributes data over a network of coordinated computers to provide efficient access and retrieval between nodes. This type of data structure is decentralized and works reliably even in the event of a node failure or network failure (fault tolerance).
Instead of addressing location based, IPFS refers to file based on content definition. The content identifier is a cryptographic hash of the content at this address, and it is a unique hash that allows you to verify the content you request.
DHT provides a decentralized data structure in which IPFS peers can find other peers and desired content. The flexibility feature means that peers can operate independently without central coordination, allowing the system to expand to accommodate millions of peers, not to mention being able to resist content censorship due to its decentralized structure.