A few years ago I tried out Freenet 0.7.0 when the Internet Filter debate was happening in Australia. Back then I found it to be complicated to install, the router configuration was over difficult because you needed to configure port forwarding manually, then you had to wait for it to discover the network and that would take hours.
Fast forward to now, I’ve just downloaded Freenet 0.7.5 and run the installer. A minute later I am on the network, the port forwarding is handled automatically, and I’m browsing Freenet sites straight away.
I find Freenet to be both a positive place but also a horribly negative place.
Positive because anyone is able to post any content that they want and share it with other people. This is especially useful in oppressive areas like China where censorship on the internet is rampant.
Negative though in that anyone can post anything and based on the first index site I went to it is mostly porn, pirating sites, and illegal porn like Child Pornography.
I hate that a service that has such potential has become a tool for such terrible content. Escaping the mass censorship of oppressive governments is an important arsenal in the quest for universal freedom. The fact that you have to be careful about stumbling over child pornography is a major worry. Given the way that Freenet works, it would be very difficult, perhaps even impossible to track down the people that are creating and sharing this illegal content.
I’ll leave the Freenet service running for a couple of days to see how the overall network runs but looking at the index sites, I don’t think I’ll keep it running for to long. The Freesites are all mostly static, it is almost like browsing the web in the early 90s. With the decreased speed as well it is very much like browsing the web in the 90s. It is tremendously slow and essentially looks like Geocities before Yahoo broke it.