WikiLeaks Domain Name Killed (and Why It Won’t Kill WikiLeaks)

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Wrong again.

WikiLeaks could live on indefinitely not as a website, but as an organization that distributed its documents over decentralized peer-to-peer networks.

In such a network, there are no central servers to route traffic. Instead, individual computers are connected to one another by a single, small, easily-sharable file called a “tracker” that contains information pointing directly to every connected computer that’s sharing a copy of a particular document.

This is one of the reasons it’s been so hard to stop music and movie piracy—there’s nobody to go after except sites like The Pirate Bay, which don’t host any actual files except for the tiny tracker files that connect individual computers together so they can send documents, music, and video files back and forth between each other.

(More: The Men Who Stole the World)

It’s another reason why WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange uses Skype to communicate with people. Skype is a peer-to-peer telephony network that relies on decentralized connections between individual computers. There aren’t any centralized servers that can easily pinpoint his location.

Even if all the sites that hosted trackers got shut down, people could still send the tracker files around via e-mail, FTP, or any number of alternative means.

So while it’s theoretically possible to kill a website by systematically cutting off every avenue it has to connect its servers to the web, it’s exponentially more difficult—if not impossible—to shut down an organization that’s main goal is the widespread dissemination of documents.

More on Techland:

US & China Crack Down on Product Piracy

Tough New Anti-Piracy Legislation on the Way?

You May Now Legally Jailbreak Your iPhone and Rip DVDs

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