FREENET- A Distributed and Anonymous
Information Storage and Retrieval System

Networked computer systems are rapidly growing in importance as the medium of choice for the storage and exchange of information. However, current systems afford little privacy to their users, and typically store any given data item in only one or a few fixed places, creating a central point of failure. Because of a continued desire among individuals to protect the privacy of their authorship or readership of various types of sensitive information, and the undesirability of central points of failure which can be attacked by opponents wishing to remove data from the system or simply overloaded by too much interest, systems offering greater security and reliability are needed.

Freenet is being developed as a distributed information storage and retrieval system designed to address these concerns of privacy and availability. The system operates as a location-independent distributed file system across many individual computers that allow files to be inserted, stored, and requested anonymously. There are five main design goals:

" Anonymity for both producers and consumers of information
" Deniability for storers of information
" Resistance to attempts by third parties to deny access to information
" Efficient dynamic storage and routing of information
" Decentralization of all network functions

The system is designed to respond adaptively to usage patterns, transparently moving, replicating, and deleting files as necessary to provide efficient service without resorting to broadcast searches or centralized location indexes. It is not intended to guarantee permanent file storage, although it is hoped that a sufficient number of nodes will join with enough storage capacity that most files will be able to remain indefinitely. In addition, the system operates at the application layer and assumes the existence of a secure transport layer, although it is transport-independent. It does not seek to provide anonymity for general network usage, only for Freenet file transactions.

Freenet is currently being developed as a free software project on, and a preliminary implementation can be downloaded from It grew out of work originally done by the first author at the University of Edinburgh