BitTorrent may be best known for peer-to-peer protocols, but that could be about to change thanks to Maelstrom, a new browser BitTorrent have just put into public beta.
Maelstrom is a hybrid of Google's Chromium browser framework (the same open source code found in both Chrome and Opera browsers) and BitTorrent's peer-to-peer technologies. This handily means that torrents should in theory be able to stream directly in Maelstrom.
As handy as that may sound, the big news is that Maelstrom also supports peer-to-peer websites.
This means that websites published in a torrent format are no longer reliant on centralised webserver. Instead they will be able to be shared peer to peer. This has huge implications on the abilities of political regimes and corporations to control and censor online information.
Browsing using peer-to-peer protocols means that bits of webpages stored on a Maelstrom equipped PC are shared with other Maelstrom users.
The implications are profound.
Take the Piratebay for instance. It was recently shut down and knocked out of commission for several weeks when Swedish authorities raided its data center, pulling the plug on its web server.
Similarly, Wikileaks who've held governments to account by publishing politically embarrassing documents remain vulnerable to take-down requests intended to make politically embarrassing information go off-line.
Not with Maelstrom. Even if authorities were to conduct raids on ThePirateBay or request documents be pulled from Wikileaks, the data for those sites will still be sitting on tens of millions of maelstrom equipped PCs. Should Maelstrom gain critical mass, take down actions and data center raids will have little effect. Once again it appears that technology may have out witted slow moving beauracrats.
More information on Maelstrom can be found at this website.