Help us – we need decentralized comments
Note: Somewhat hastily written, in maybe less-than-perfect English. Sorry for that, hope you understand anyway.
In Sweden, a new law has been proposed, that makes the owner of a site with a comment field liable for everything that is said there. Partially, this is already the case, but the new law will make it by far harsher. They justify it with stopping ”näthat” – ”Internet hate” – but even though the final text isn’t ready yet, it is a rather obvious attempt to force site owners to remove their comment fields or require identification for being allowed to comment, in order to chill free speech. An attempt that I fear will be successful. Of course, the justification speaks of protecting both privacy and freedom of speech – Orwell, anyone? The law also lowers the threshold for what is a crime to say. It will be forbidden to say almost anything that’s more than slightly negative about anyone.
This law is a Swedish problem, but its solution is something that is useful around the world, not least in countries which is already one step ahead of Sweden, that is outlawing criticism of the regime.
The owner of the commenting platform is liable for what is said – so let’s make no one the owner of the platform!
A decentralized comment system, would that be possible? I’m no expert, but I imagine the Blockchain technology could be useful here, with a comment and the web address it belongs to essentially being the same as a transaction, although there is nothing finite such as Bitcoins being transferred, and a wallet address as a user ID – used only once (behind Tor and/or VPN) for perfectly anonymous comments, used everytime for constant-pseudonymous or named comments. The latter would act as a kind of signature, I guess, so that one can be certain that a comment comes from the same source, if that source wants that to be the case and use the same address. The process corresponding to mining could be done at a slow speed in the background of the program.
If it is also possible to handle comments in such a way that except while viewing it, a comment is never stored in its entirety on a single computer, that would make sure that no one is the owner of the platform – so that it cannot be interpreted so that everyone who has it is an owner and thereby liable. I don’t know if this is possible, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t. The program would need to split the comment in pieces and know which piece is which and how to assemble them – WinRAR and equivalents have been doing that for ages – the only new would be to make sure not to have all pieces, except when ”de-RARing”.
If this can be done, it is immediately useful already, since there are many sites that doesn’t have comment fields, or have them moderated in a way that makes opinions opposite to the article’s be removed. And, as mentioned, in countries where criticism is illegal.
If you know someone(s) who understands these technologies and may know how to adapt and implement them into for example a browser add-on, send a link their way!
In a nutshell:
Browser add-on that uses Blockchain or other decentralized technique to read and write comments, of course fetching and leaving comments marked with current web address.
Preferably capable of handling comments WITHOUT handling an entire comment on any given computer, except when reading/writing.
Capable of both comments connected by same ID and entirely anonymous comments, maybe through inexhaustible, different ID:s.
Addition 22 Sept. 2016: If possible, maybe it would be a good idea to have an option for a random delay of, say, 1-20 minutes before the comment is registered, to make it harder for owners of the commented pages to cross-reference comments and page visits (IP addresses etc.) in order to find out who commented.