Namecoin is a Bitcoin derivative that allows you to register names and data into a public blockchain. It bypasses going through central agencies that can take down your websites by removing the DNS entry.
Namecoin isn’t one of these dozens of “me too!” cryptocurrencies popping up each day. In fact, Namecoin is barely even used as a currency, althought have very high value for a non-bitcoin cryptocurrency. That’s not its reason for existence. It exists to register domain names that can be used around the world without relying on government-controlled entities who can delete anything at a whim.
Viral Electron Chaos Laboratories (which includes one of the developers of Namecoin) have already released a working beta of FreeSpeechMe, a plug-in that allows easy viewing of Dot-Bit (.bit) sites without any tech experience. They’ve also written tutorials on their site for using the plug-in, registering Dot-Bit domains (which currently cost about ten cents U.S. each), and tutorials for webmasters to set up Dot-Bit versions of the Dot-Com or other TLD sites.
The plug-in is free, and is currently available for Windows and GNU/Linux, with additional versions planned for Mac and Android. The source code is also on the FreeSpeechMe website, so anyone may examine it and even create derivations as they wish.
Dot-bit (.bit) are domains registered into a decentralized and public Namecoin blockchain. This is the opposite of all the other centralized top-level domains like Dot-Com, Dot-Net, Dot-ES, Dot-UK, Dot-DE, etc. Those are all controlled by authorities and are frequently censored by governments around the world without any Due Process and with no recourse for the domain owner.
FreeSpeechMe can change the game and the rules of the Internet the way we’ve come to accept them.
For an Internet user, typing bitcoinmagazine.com or bitcoinmagazine.bit into a browser will bring you to the same website, as they probably go there from a link, bookmark, or auto-fill anyway. There is, however, a critical difference between the two urls; the first one can suffer censorship of governments and corporations, the second one cannot.
Here are the advantages of Dot-bit and the FreeSpeechMe plug-in:
- When you register a Dot-bit domain, everyone in the world with FreeSpeechMe can see the website in 3 hours, in contrast to traditional and centralized systems that can take up to 72 hours.
- The system is decentralized, so that people have more protection from censorship. Dot-Bit domains can’t be removed from an authority contacting ICANN or other central systems.
- If a web host takes a website down (with a demand from some central authority), the website owner can move the files to another server (even in another nation) and be viewable worldwide in 40 minutes.
- TOR compatible, now will be easy to remember a domain in the Tor network!
- The person registering the domain has name privacy without paying more. (This requires the domain owner being careful. Otherwise authorities could use traffic analysis and action analysis to find the owner. But it can be done.).
- Easy to install (much easier than DNS setting configuration. And FreeSpeechMe does NOT change your DNS settings)
- More secure; avoids DNS Hijacking and other attacks.
- Dot-Bit registrations are much less expensive than other top-level domains.
With this crowdfunding campaign, the FreeSpeechMe team is looking to raise $50k (US), in cash, Bitcoin, or Namecoin. Reaching this goal will allow more Dot-bit use beyond Firefox, improvements on integration with Tor Browser and other anonymous networks, implementing new-generation Transport Layer Security, solutions for current issues, and many other improvements. It will also be used to help promote widespread adoption of FreeSpeechMe and Dot-Bit, which are critical to this system keeping the Internet out of the wrong hands.
This fundraising goal is still open. If they receive more funds they will continue improving new interesting features for Namecoin and FreeSpeechMe as:
- Update the Namecoin code (currently based on Bitcoin 0.3.x)
- Improve scalability (Resolve domains without need of download and processing blockchain)
- Automatic renewal of domains
- Cold-storage (porting armory)
- Optimize speed (Although now Dot-it is much faster than other top-level domains)
- Better blockchain anonymity (e.g. implementing Zerocoin)
- Blockchain privacy (using encryption for obscure domain-owners data)
- Improve better implementation of NameID; decentralized single sing-on system based on Namecoin.
- SSH client integration
If you can’t wait and you want to register Dot-Bit domains or configure your website you can learn how at www.freespeechme.org, where they are also asking for donations in Bitcoin and Namecoin.
Ferran Reyes is a social educator involved in cooperativism and commons projects. Nowadays he works for the crowdfunding platform @goteofunding and as a advisor for social economy as well as social and cryptocurrency initiatives. You can reach him on Twitter at @ferranrego