This Decentralized Media Hosting Service Aims to Challenge Censorship
Working to “make journalism truly free,” Inkrypt wants to provide a censorship-free, back-end solution for content hosting and delivery. With a focus on transparency, data distribution and immutability, the protocol would give journalists and publishers the means to circulate content without the risk of a central point of failure or the threat of government intervention.
Inkrypt was born from the experience of state-propagated censorship that each of its founders confronted before relocating to the United States. “[Inkrypt] is very much a product of the personal backgrounds of the founders and their mutual fascination for the implications of distributed ledger technologies,” co-founder Farhan Javed told Bitcoin Magazine. “They share a common experience of having lived under regimes of governmental censorship and are committed to changing such realities.”
Standing testament to this, Javed alluded to co-founder Dr. Muhammad Ali Chaudhary’s childhood in Pakistan, quoting an experience that would lay the foundation for Inkrypt’s creation.
"Growing up in a country like Pakistan meant that we were given a very curated version of the world, and it was only after I moved to the U.S. that I realized the value of freedom of information. For example, for the entirety of my high school, YouTube was blocked in Pakistan and I didn't think much of it at the time," said Dr. Chaudhary in a statement for Bitcoin Magazine.
Any media published with Inkrypt is fragmented and distributed across a global network of nodes. As with most distributed file storage protocols, the data is encrypted, replicated and held within the spare hard drive space of the network’s node operators. Stored on the blockchain, the data is immutable and, given its distribution model, it is protected from any central point of failure. What’s more, third parties such as governments or corporations can’t identify nodes simply by observing a transaction on the network.
“Beyond just the permanence of the data, the communication between nodes during content delivery to the end viewer is also anonymized through redundant pathways, using a combination of I2P, Tor and MeshNet, which provides front-end censorship resistance seeing as external actors such as governments are unable to identify the nodes,” said Javed.
Building on Po.et
The decentralized publishing protocol Po.et is in the midst of a development initiative to grow its platform. It’s offering itself as a toolkit for the developer community to pick up and put to use. Coming out of Harvard Innovation Labs, Inkrypt is the first project to take Po.et’s toolkit and build with it.
According to Javed, the team chose to implement its project with Po.et because “there is a complete alignment in vision.”
“Both entities want to empower content creators and usher in a new media ecosystem dedicated to data integrity, transparency and ownership. The best way to realize that common vision is to partner up, share resources, leverage scaling effects and form the foundation of the next generation of comprehensive media and information solutions for the upcoming age of the Web 3.0.”
To compensate node operators, Inkrypt will distribute its own token, though Javed suggested that “the relationship and interaction between the Inkrypt protocol's native tokens and [Po.et’s native token, POE] is actively being explored by both teams.”
Besides serving as a form of payment, the token will also contribute to the protocol’s governance system to maintain the network and police illegal content like child pornography. This system will outfit journalists and other media personnel with a self-governing model “without being dictated by the regulatory framework of any particular nation-state government,” according to Javed.
The new era of media that Javed describes is an end that Po.et envisions its platform delivering. According to Jarrod Dicker, Po.et’s CEO, with the help of applications like Inkrypt, Po.et hopes to position itself as “the marketplace for all creators to leverage tools on the blockchain,” an Ethereum-like protocol for the digital media realm.
“The protocol is structured to unlock the true value of the web as it pertains to content, reputation and ownership. Po.et is a horizontal layer that others will build vertically upon leveraging its information and substance to create critical applications for media web 3.0,” said Dicker in an interview with Bitcoin Magazine.
“We're looking to accelerate development on the platform by announcing an official development initiative that will enable us to invest in and provide a platform for media companies and creators everywhere to build on the blockchain.”
Both Dicker and Javed see Inkrypt as an invaluable tool to correct the authoritarian censorship that plagues journalists and media outlets in the world’s more restricted countries. But in the future, Javed believes that “this phenomenon has the potential to rattle the global journalism industry at large, primarily by dramatically increasing the potential for content syndication.” Once organizations see what Inkrypt can deliver to those in censorship-prone countries, media arms in countries with free speech will join the movement as well.
In the immediate future, to prove its worth, the project is working on a minimum viable product as a proof of concept. Once completed, the team plans to introduce it to journalists in the Middle East’s more censorship-heavy countries, such as Pakistan, Iraq, Syria and Turkey.
Disclaimer: The parent company of Bitcoin Magazine, BTC Media, LLC, is an affiliate of Po.et.