Legality issues of storing someone else's files on your computer

I’ve found this man’s comment on a youtube video talking about MaidSafe, and I found it interesting.

if MaidSafe’s main selling point is you store someone elses’ encrypted data on your hard drive but this act alone is probably illegal or certainly will be. I’m not saying it should be but the west is currently running a paranoid tyrannical gov’t system. So just like when i go to the airport i have to answer the following question: Has anyone put anything in your bag without your knowledge? how is it different than the following question: Has anyone put anything on your laptop without your knowledge of the contents of the files? If you say NO and they open your PC and find an encrypted file placed there by MaidSafe Network then you have just lied to a government agent and can face a 20yr sentence with current laws on the books.[/quote]

Here is his twitter :
Some of you may know him already, he shares his opinion on different cryptocurrency podcasts.

What do you guys think ?
Can storing someone else’s “fraudulent files”, knowingly or unknowingly, through the Safe Network, be a concern for MaidSafe, legally speaking ?

Any input on the subject is appreciated !

I’m not a very technical person and not sure if this answers the concern but simply switch off the PC before you enter the airport would solve this because the chunks of the files that were stored on your PC will now look for another node to be stored.


What if you receive a bitcoin, email or anything else without your knowledge? Think that this answers the concern better actually.

Exactly - you are also only storing encrypted chunks of data so even if you were able to decrypt some parts they would just be garbage without the whole file


But you also have the Pirate Party movement that seems to gain momentum.
I don’t know a lot of this movement but they are, among other things, for information privacy.

This has been discussed at length before.

In summary of that and previous posters here

  1. You are not storing files in your vault. You are storing at most 1/3 of the file and usually a lot less
  2. The file is encrypted so that not even the authorities could know what is stored on your computer
  3. For a particular file there is no mechanism to find the actual computers it is stored on. The only way is to monitor every computer in the network and see which computers respond to a request for the file.
  4. Only 2 countries have tried to convict people for encrypted Tor data passing through their computer, and then only 1 case in each country that I have heard of.


How do the authorities know which computers the chunks are stored on. Also the vaults do not store files, but only fragments of the file and that is encrypted.


And honestly what are they going to do,

Arrest everyone who uses the internet??!

I think not!!

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This is exactly why I love these new technologies, they challenge the laws to make us think thoroughsly if they’re accurate and/or fair for the world we live in. What happens when most of the people are breaking a law? I think it usually just stops being ilegal and the law is changed or abolished.


In a sufficiently corrupt society, the innocent will be made liable for anything that displeases the man, without exception.

Therefore, yes, in a sufficiently corrupt society, anyway.

But the prevention of such a society is in fact the purpose of MaidSafe and a number of other ambitious projects.


Ah, good ol’ Tone. First of all, please take anything Tone says with a pinch of salt. He is a Bitcoin Maximalist, so always highly biased against anything that doesn’t use the Bitcoin blockchain. He may be right from time to time, since it’s natural that when you tag everything as ‘stupid’ or ‘scam’ you will eventually get some of them right. Occasionally we agree on something, but it’s rare.

Now, IANAL, but In this case I think Tone is spreading FUD. The reason being that what Maidsafe stores in your computer is, on its own, no different than garbage, random bits. The fact that someone, somewhere in the world can make use of those random bits is besides the point. You are not carrying any illegal data, in itself. Contrast this with Bitcoin, where you store the whole blockchain, which can indeed contain illegal material. In other words, With Bitcoin you hold the full data that can be cracked/decrypted to something illegal.

The software is also not doing it without your knowledge. You have full knowledge that you have installed Maidsafe, and that the program downloads binary content which you do not have full control or understanding of, just like you do not have full control or understanding of the binary content downloaded by your OS or anti-virus updates. You just select that you want auto-updates on and trust that the sofware will download what is necessary to run.


Tone is a financial dude that luvs the spotlight, he’s not a technician that luvs accuracy. He has stretched certain facts to create some buzz for himself- it’s hardly FUDD. The fact that Border Patrol can search your laptop without a warrant and question you on its contents is a fact and trouble for all when it comes to encrypted files. A border patrol officer can refuse you entry to a country at will. If they are not satisfied with you or what you are bringing into the country, you wont get in. They can ask you for your passwords, you can refuse. They can sieze your devices and hold them. Recently there have been some court challenges. Tell a border official you dont know whats on your laptop and they will smile. Trying to explain Maidsafe in a back room at the airport after you missed your flight would not be fun.

Just so you know the real issues here are: Child Porn, Espionage, Terrorist Correspondance.

I have no idea why someone would be trying to run a vault while passing through boarders.

Guess there needs to be a utility to remove any vault files so that when one plans a trip they can clean up any files the vaults create, which will remove all the chunks.


That they would try is not the issue. The point is the blatant disregard for the fact that having encrypted Information on a pc is a real issue. Tone (Tony) Vays is grandstanding for sure but to shrug this off as fud or blow off the OP with dumb responses is irresponsible.

Sounds like the makings of a very valuable app! Maybe include the availability to move “any” encrypted files to Safenet while travelling. “SAFETraveler”


Vaults could have a setting to encrypt cached blocks with a randomly generated symmetric key. When one disabled the vault, the key file would be securely overwritten (still not trivial on SSDs, just saying) and the rest of the files, which would already be impossible to recover at this point, would be just deleted.

Anyway, SAFE is a huge step towards plausible deniability; nobody can verify if the password you’re giving them is your only password. It’s important because even today, in the United Kingdom, one can be prosecuted just for not telling their password; not cool.

I think this should be covered by safe haven laws, eventually.

SAFE needs to gain mass adoption quick enough that legislation is left behind and can’t do anything funky (I’m sure they would try!) because of the pressure of all the people already using it.


I think that if you had your vault in the system directories then the argument could rightly be said that they are part of the OS files. (SAFE Additions to the OS)

The files are not marked as encrypted and there is no marking they are encrypted. The files simply appear as a collection of BINARY files in one directory.

And again I think that the function to clean the vault directory should be included in the vault code and be able to be run anytime someone wishes to remove the files for whatever reason.

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I’m not up on the technicalities of how this works, but I was reminded of a quote from David Irvine:

This was in the context of transmitting data, but I wonder if it could work for storage of data? If so, you could simply disguise all stored Safenet chunks as cat pictures / MP3s / other files.

If there are no files on the computer that look encrypted, border officials will not be interested.


That’s not how the world works though. When SAFE is widely adopted, then when somebody wants to get you for storing encrypted data, those “just binary files” may well be the first things searched for. Just like how they can look through your shampoo bottles even if they don’t have “heroin container” printed on them.

I suppose sudo apt remove safe_vault or windows uninstall will be a simple thing to do if required. What anyone could learn from chunks though is dubious. Web browser cache probably has a ton more useful info. If in doubt though uninstall any software you don’t want folk accessing. Hopefully good thing about safe* should be the simplicity of re-installing if required.


I think you misunderstood that. When he said “plain data” he must’ve meant “random binary crap,” not cat pictures.

Basically you have YOUR_DATA and you have RANDOM_DATA.

If you do a YOUR_DATA XOR RANDOM_DATA then the result will be statistically indistinguishable from random data.

If you replace RANDOM_DATA with CAT_PICTURE then the result will be an interesting mix, that won’t make much sense, but won’t be very hidden, either.

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That is how the world works. Maybe you have little experience traveling across borders. The expectation is you know exactly what is in your possession. Will every traveller get pulled into a secondary inspection? Of course not but if it happens .

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