What Protects Users of the Network From Illegal Content Being Traced to Their Computer?


Every since learning about MaidSafe I’ve been super excited about the whole concept. I made a post in a community I follow via reddit, and one user brought up a very valid concern:

If data is distributed among the network, then what stops police from tracking kiddiepron, pirated movies, etc. put on the network to innocent users that may be storing the small chunks of it?

I know that data would be encrypted, but does the network protect against this sort of snooping?

Whats stopping people storing illegal stuff on my node?

Your IP address is stripped from any messages traveling through the network. While it won’t be impossible to pin a node to a physical computer, it will take considerable resources.
Additionally, most of the data stored in a vault is not only encrypted but chunked and scattered across the network. Even if it was not encrypted, an individual node owner would not be able to determine what is stored on their computer anyway.

The Tor exit nodes have been in the situation you describe for years now. They are considerably worse off than a MaidSafe node user as any Tor traffic is traced directly back to their IP address. The authorities have quickly learned that it is pointless to try to track traffic past a Tor exit node, or harass an exit node owner.

I don’t expect anyone would bother spending the considerable resources to attempt to find the node on which specific content is stored. The owner has nothing to do with the data, is provably not responsible for the illegal act, and has no way of removing the data from the network. The police generally want to catch or stop criminals, which will never be accomplished by harassing a random MaidSafe node owner.


I’d imagine this would lead to campaigns against MaidSafe with claims like “It protects criminals!” much like we hear about Tor and Bitcoin. I guess it can’t be helped.


MaidSafe is a powerful tool. Tools can be used for good or evil.
I think the best we can do is to try our damnedest to ensure the community focuses on the positive that can be done and shun the negative. Someone will always find a damaging use for any tool. I, for one, will not turn my back on all the advancements that can be made with these ideas because of that fact.

This is the price of freedom and privacy, everyone else gets it too.


I’m not sure how correct this is but I think only the four “nearest” nodes on the network actually have access to your ip address.

If this is true, how could these four nodes track your usage? Is data encrypted before they have access to it?


All connections between routing nodes are encrypted.

Data stored to the network may or may not be encrypted, depending on the user/application requirements*. All data is sliced up and obfuscated though, afaik.

  • a dropbox style app would encrypt private data, but probably not public data (no point) etc.


In general, people will complain, dwell on the bad points etc. Those parties who will suffer from the SAFE network will do so more loudly too.

However, the SAFE network isn’t going to care or go away. Society will need to find different ways to discourage abhorrent behaviour.


All data stored is encrypted, apart from public keys. The shard of data are 1Mb at most and are stored encrypted and obfuscated. These move around as well.

To access this data then there are 2 mechanisms

1: Physical access (A person hacks into or takes over your computer physically)
2: A close node (the only nodes that know your ip:port are in your routing table) could known what actual chunks you store as the managers record this. To become a close node is not simple and to target a close group is significantly more difficult.

Illegal actions though should be tracked by those charged with doing so. I believe as the network grows over years there may be actions it can take, but these are more likely to be client side apps to check on behaviour.

A really important aspect here is the anonymity works both ways. We the people can report behaviour of this kind without fear of retribution or being recorded. I think a great many people allow crimes as they are in fear of their lives to report it. This is a deep rabbit hole, but it is a new world and there will be many changes. The whistleblower attributes work for everyone to.

To me education, ridding ourselves of propaganda and having the freedom and security to protect our children and others from abuse may be the very thing that will stop more of this than it does to allow it. I certainly hope so.


"Illegal actions though should be tracked by those charged with doing so.
I believe as the network grows over years there may be actions it can
take, but these are more likely to be client side apps to check on
behaviour. " I disagree with this entirely. How are you “tracking” illegal activities? Are you going through a user’s files, decryping them and monitoring them? Also your whole propsition of having “close nodes” read one’s ip address AND then on top of that suggest that people should have anonymous criminal reporting creates an atomsphere of suspicion and fear of one’s fellow maidsafe users. What if my neighbour is my closest node? What if it’s my family member? Are they going to report me downloading a pirated movie or some music? Maybe I shouldn’t use maidsafe because some jackass is going to see my ip address and anonymously spy on me. No! If you can report on someone then the system isn’t safe to use. I for one am not using maidsafe if it’s going to be another tool of the police state. Who are you to infringe on net neutrality and dictate what is “abhorant” or not. Get out of my business! if i want to post wikileak cables, or download a pirated movie, or read a censored book, or watch some obscene sexual material of some kind THAT IS NONE OF YOUR AFFAIR! That is WHY maidsafe is encrypted! If the safe network develops some kind of overriding nanny state governing body that monitors activity and caters to the police state be it the U.S. government oligarchy or some middle eastern dictator with Sharia Law obsessions then we’re in the same bloody mess as we were in the first place with the centralized internet. People please learn from history and stop catering to statism!

Let me make this clear:    Child pornography or pirated movies are the canary in the coal mine for outlawing things like free speech.   If we allow net neutrality and anonymity to be compromised because of emotionally charged topics we will lose all our freedoms.    Who are the people pushing for greater surveylance on the internet?   Big Media because Copyright and Privacy are incompatible.    More to the point the pursuit of “criminals” and assorted “evil people” is a vehicle to strip any group of their freedoms.    Where does it stop?    Oh you can encrypt movie files so we need to monitor all movie data.    Oh you can send text messages and those can be used for “terrorism” so we need to monitor those as well.   Oh you can see your adjacent node’s traffic we’ll pay you to rat them out.    Where does it end?   What if there’s a law passed in some country criticizing a poltician?   What if it becomes illegal in the U.S. to transmit information about how to make guns, or grow food, or criticize the government?    How can you report on someone if both parties are anonymous?

I strongly suggest you read the following article.

This is also good.

I would also remind you all that we are talking about the INTERNET and not something that is specific to the moral or legal specifications of any given individial, group, region or nation. What if we were talking about videos about how to grow marijauna and they were legal in one area but illegal in another? Should the SAFE network monitor that and censor that? Should individual uses be able to report on their fellow users? How would they when both parties are anonymous? See what I mean?


What I mean is illegal activity of people is the job of the police etc. via normal policing, not snooping. The network will evolve to spot bad behaviour, like spamming, putting on junk data etc.

I think you misunderstood my post. The whole point of the network is privacy security and freedom. It would be a virus or similar trojan that would decrypt and go through your data, I would hope the network would provide protection against that to at some stage. This is an area where validated apps would be a good thing, so the community can check for such intrusions.


If I misunderstood you then I apologize. I’m a bit, passionate shall we say, about freedom, security, digital rights, etc. Which is why I’m so excited about maidsafe and the decentralized internet at large. And yes having validating apps that protect against such infections and snooping would indeed be a good thing.


I agree you should have the right to download anything you want, even pirated movies. I also believe you should be caught and fined handsomely through good old fashioned police work. Theft is theft. But it’s not the job of the network to weed you out. It’s the job of the country you’re in. I believe that’s what David was getting at.


Theft implies the involuntary transfer of property from one person to another. Copying something does not match this definition.


This discussion should probably have its own thread. And that thread belongs in an Off-topic/Politics category. If people think that the forum should have an off-topic category, please post in this thread.


Very much agreed. We digress.


Yes but “snooping” is now the poliice gather their evidence. They don’t come into your house and watch you download something or go through your files. They monitor internet traffic. So it all comes down to do you support a surveylance state or not?

Agreed. They are creating profit by artificially creating scarcity via legal limitation. In short by defying copyright you are in effect saying you will not reward artificial scarcity.


I hear paedophiles and terrorists use telephones and soap. :wink:


We can find a harmonious way to question how to redefine copyright in a digital age. There is no question that the original assumptions of ‘controlling the copies’ is no longer a functioning model. Rather then breaking the law, and actually stealing, what we should do create an ecosystem where new revenue models for artists can co-exist with the traditional model. In that way artists can naturally grow to adopt new models.

Until that happens, stealing is stealing, and an argument of ‘artificial scarcity’ is insufficient to support stealing.

The main motivation why I started working on ‘We The Artists’ is to create such an ecosystem where people can legally experiment with different new funding models and can move past this copyright model.

The SAFE network is a powerful new opportunity to create such a positive and legal ecosystem. Anyone fighting to keep a status-quo will instead block the good this technology can bring by smearing the SAFE network for anarchistic, lawbreaking practises. We have to learn from torrents and bitcoin, and build on top of SAFE well-respected, legal applications that are undisputed for their merits. Otherwise this decentralised movement will stay a margin in society for so many years longer then it has to be.


Bittorrent is hardly a marginalized technology and is widely adopted for both business and personal use. As for what kind of apps are created I really don’t think you have a choice. Downloading movies and music on P2P clients these days is common place. I would say many if not most youth, who would be your target audience to become early adopters of maidsafe, do not agree with your position and have no issue with downloading pirated movies and music. Moreover maidsafe’s very nature allows for the anonymous encrypted transfer of files so really no additional software would be required beyond even what I saw on the test client there (Life Stuff I believe it was called), or something of that caliber. It ultimately doesn’t matter what you think or what I think beyond what we can code or what software we can adopt. There will be those that agree with me and disagree with you and make software that alligns with my views (promoting piracy and the free exchange of information) and there will be those that agree with you (that attempt to stay within the law). People that agree with me will adopt the former brand of software (or both) and those that agree with you will adopt the latter (or perhaps both).

Freedom of Information vs Deriving Value / Monetization for Artists

Saying stealing is stealing, theft is theft etc doesn’t get us anywhere - they are just tautologies.

Logically, if the original owner still has a copy of the thing, it cannot be theft. What is written in law does nothing to change this.

Whether people think that intellectual monopolies should be protected by threatening people or not is debatable, but lets look at it from first principles.