Anonymous, Decentralised And Uncensored File-Sharing Is Booming

The file-sharing landscape is slowly adjusting in response to the continued push for more anti-piracy tools, the final Pirate Bay verdict, and the raids and arrests in the Megaupload case. Faced with uncertainty and drastic changes at file-sharing sites, many users are searching for secure, private and uncensored file-sharing clients. Despite the image its name suggests, RetroShare is one such future-proof client.

The avalanche of negative file-sharing news over the past weeks hasn't gone unnoticed to users and site operators.

From SOPA to Megaupload, there is a growing uncertainly about the future of sharing.

While many BitTorrent sites and cyberlockers continue to operate as usual, there is a growing group of users who are expanding their horizons to see what other means of sharing are available if the worst case scenario becomes reality.

Anonymous, decentralised and uncensored are the key and most sought-after features. For some this means signing up with a VPN to make their BitTorrent sharing more private, but new clients are also generating interest.

Earlier this month we wrote about Tribler, a decentralised (not anonymous) BitTorrent client that makes torrent sites obsolete. We've covered Tribler for more than half a decade, but it was only after our most recent post that it really took off with more than a hundred thousand downloads in a few days.

But there are more file-sharing tools that are specifically built to withstand outside attacks. Some even add anonymity into the mix. RetroShare is such a private and uncensored file-sharing client, and the developers have also noticed a significant boom in users recently.

The RetroShare network allows people to create a private and encrypted file-sharing network. Users add friends by exchanging PGP certificates with people they trust. All the communication is encrypted using OpenSSL and files that are downloaded from strangers always go through a trusted friend.

In other words, it's a true Darknet and virtually impossible to monitor by outsiders.

RetroShare founder DrBob told us that while the software has been around since 2006, all of a sudden there's been a surge in downloads. "The interest in RetroShare has massively shot up over the last two months," he said.

"In January our downloads tripled when interest in SOPA was at its peak. It more than doubled again in February, when cyberlockers disabled sharing or shut down entirely. At the moment we are getting 10 times more downloads than in December 2011."

RetroShare's downloads at Sourceforge

RetroShare's founder believes that there is an increased need for security, privacy and freedom among file-sharers, features that are at the core of his application.

"RetroShare is about creating a private space on the Internet. A social collaboration network where you can share anything you want. A space that is free from the prying eyes of governments, corporations and advertisers. This is vitally important as our freedom on the Internet is under increasing threat," DrBob told TorrentFreak.

"RetroShare is free from censorship: like Facebook banning ‘obscene' breast-feeding photographs. A network that allows you to use any pseudonym, without insisting on knowing your real name. A network where you will not face the threat of jail, or being banned from entry into a country for an innocent tweet."

It's impossible to accurately predict what file-sharing will look like 5 years from now. But, a safe assumption is that anonymity will play a more central role than it ever has.

Recent crackdowns have made operators of central file-sharing sites and services more cautious of copyright infringement. Some even went as far as shutting down voluntarily, like BTjunkie.

In the long run this might drive more casual downloaders to legitimate alternatives, if these are available. Those who keep on sharing could move to smaller communities, darknets and anonymous connections.

Republished with permission from TorrentFreak. Image via Shutterstock/John David Bigi III


Comments is an alternative client, much simpler and more easy

    How insightful this developer is. This private network structure is exactly what is needed to counter deletion of breast-feeding photos. Damn you Facebook for taking away our integral right to pictures of feeding babies at breasts.

      The first rule of usenet is: You do not talk about usenet

    I have been using usenet for years and I plan to for the foreseeable future. Why doesn't usenet ever get a mention?

      +1 for usenet. I have no idea why it is so rarely mentioned. It has been around the longest, is the safest and no seeding required


          Usenet isnt what it used to be. I used it for 10 years but now torrent sites get more scene releases and are easier to use. Best bet is to find a private torrent site and join the community.

        How is no seeding required? It is free right?

          It is not a system for non-it savvy people but the best IMHO. Not free but no more than a subscription to a fileshare service. True that there has been a decline in scene releases but I have seen recent growth due to the megaupload issue.
          See, and for a few providers. Easynews is best for non-it savvy people because they have a system that combines all the binaries into a searchable web interface. All others require binary news readers, NZB downloaders etc to download and assemble files (newsleecher is my favorite).

      I think because you have to pay... But with Sickbeard and Couchpotato, it's worht it...

    Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the hard part going to be seeding your downloads in order to get a decent reputation? In order to get that rep, you need to download and in order to download you need a reputation??

    Hey Giz,

    why does FF stall every time I load one of your pages? Script errors pop up on occasion but not always... Only your pages too, no one else...

      That's easy, use Chrome

        That wasnt his question. He asked WHY it was happening, he didnt ask for google spyware to do it "better".

        Enjoy your slow browser troll

          This kind of attitude is pointless. Everything but your chosen browser/device is slow/old/obsolete/ugly/clunky/etc
          You might like one better over the other, but that doesn't suddenly relegate all other options to the same position as a 1990 model IBM. They're still good, usually, and outright dismissal like your comment is just...well...childish.

          @Steve, updated Java?

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