BitTorrent is building a decentralized web browser

BitTorrent is taking the next step on its quest to decentralize all the things: The company launched an invite-only private alpha test for a P2P-based web browser called Project Maelstrom Wednesday. BitTorrent CEO Eric Klinker announced the project with a blog post, which reads in part:

“It started with a simple question. What if more of the web worked the way BitTorrent does? Project Maelstrom begins to answer that question with our first public release of a web browser that can power a new way for web content to be published, accessed and consumed. Truly an Internet powered by people, one that lowers barriers and denies gatekeepers their grip on our future.”

Project Maelstrom will serve up web pages directly from its users’ computers, much in the same way that BitTorrent’s file sharing technology distributes files without the need for a central server. I asked a spokesperson for additional technical details, and got this as a response:

“It works on top of the BitTorrent protocol. Websites are published as torrents and Maelstrom treats them as first class citizens instead of just downloadable content. So if a website is contained within a torrent we treat it just like a normal webpage coming in over HTTP.”

Maelstrom 2

This means that Project Maelstrom essentially aims to build a completely separate, P2P-powered web that can only be accessed through the browser.

That’s an ambitious feat, but there are also numerous legal and logistical issues that could make it challenging for BitTorrent to turn Maelstrom into a product. For example, one could imagine that Maelstrom’s users might try to resurrect a site like the Pirate Bay, which was just taken down by Swedish police, in a distributed fashion.

Bram Cohen: My goal is to kill off television

BitTorrent inventor Bram Cohen demonstrated his P2P live sreaming protocol at the SF MusicTech Summit on Monday, arguing that it would be much better suited to stream large sports events that existing CDN-based solutions. “My goal here is to kill off television,” he joked.

Will Google buy T-Mobile? Not a chance

SNL reports that Google is bidding on T-Mobile. If the rumor were somehow true, then Google is suffering from hubris. Selling software, services and handsets is fundamentally a different business than selling connectivity. Google buying T-Mobile would be a bigger disaster than AOL-Time Warner.

BitTorrent takes on Dropbox with personal file sharing

BitTorrent’s new Share app offers users a way to privately share files of unlimited file size with others without paying for a cloud storage service. The company is currently using S3 to cache files, but wants to eventually move to its own P2P cloud service.

Sneak peak: BitTorrent expands live streaming tests

BitTorrent founder Bram Cohen and his company are moving forward with its P2P live streaming project, expanding field trials and courting indie bands to stress test Cohen’s algorithms. However, it could still take months before BitTorrent Live is ready for prime time.

BitTorrent Inc. Shares Internal Data About P2P Throttling

Stop slowing down our torrents! That’s the message BitTorrent Inc. has been sending to Canadian ISPs this week with a last-minute submission (PDF) to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). Bell, Rogers and other Canadian ISPs have been throttling their subscribers’ BitTorrent traffic for years, and the CRTC recently started public hearings to figure out if government intervention is necessary.
The whole episode is reminiscent of the controversy that broke out when Comcast started to slow down its subscribers’ torrent downloads in the U.S. — especially when it comes to BitTorrent Inc.’s allegations. The company did, however, share a few interesting tidbits in its submission that clarify how much of an impact such throttling measures have and what BitTorrent is doing to address network congestion issues.
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