Free Anonymous Internet Project: Browse, Publish, Shop in Private
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The Free Anonymous Internet project, or FAI for short, is a decentralized ‘deep web’ service that is using blockchain technology to create a private, secure, peer-to-peer alternative to the regular world wide web.
Some people call this kind of thing ‘web 3.0’ to denote the continued progression from broadcast style sites on web 1.0, to the peer-to-peer communication and user-driven content of social networking giants in web 2.0, to the kind of user-driven platforms and P2P protocols which now seem likely to drive the next big internet revolution. The FAI team just call it the ‘next generation internet’.
FAI comes with its own digital currency based on the Bitcoin code, but also enables its users to publish their own media content and to browse content posted by others in complete privacy – without anybody being able to spy on what you are doing. There is even a built-in decentralized marketplace to buy and sell products with other users.
In order to access and use FAI, all you need to do is to download the client software. The best way that I can describe this software is that it is like a cross between a digital wallet and an internet browser.
You can download the latest version for Windows or Ubuntu from the official website: http://www.f-a-i.net/
When you run this for the first time it will ask you in which directory on your computer you want to store the blockchain and database. It is recommended (although not essential) that you store this separately from your operating system, so you may want to create a new hard drive partition before you install it, so you don’t need to go back and make changes later.
If you are using Windows then once you have downloaded and extracted the files all you need to do is open up the folder in your file explorer and double click on FAI.exe to start the installation wizard.
The Free Anonymous Internet Browser
At the beating heart of this new network is the FAI browser. At first glance this looks like a bit like a social media site. When you first open a browser tab will see a news feed of the latest posts by all of the other users on the network. From here you can comment on any post, send a tip to its creator, and follow other users whose posts you like, and share posts with your followers. There are also tabs to let you view what is hot right now, or to restrict the feed to only show posts from users you have followed.
Each user gets their own profile page which shows their latest activity, and there is a search function to help you find anything you might be looking for.
Browsing through this ‘Free Anonymous Internet’ is both free and completely anonymous. Because posts are indexed in the blockchain and stored by every full node there is no way for any observer to tell what content you are viewing.
In addition to viewing posts by other FAI users, you can also use the client to browse regular internet sites. At the moment this works just the same as any other web browser, like Chrome or Firefox, but in the future it will offer enhanced privacy features so that users can surf the web safe in the knowledge that their privacy will be protected.
In addition to the web browser there is also an anonymous messenger app for private communication between users. You can build up a friends list, blacklist spammers, and communicate safe in the knowledge that it is impossible for anybody other than the sender and the intended recipient to read your messages.
Privacy is ensured by encrypting all messages using aes encryption with a shared key that can be generate multiple ways from the public and private key pairs of the sender and recipient. Because the FAI system uses the actual Public key as your account ID, rather than a hash of the key like Bitcoin, all you need is the public address of the person you are communicating with and you can then send and receive private encrypted messages which are impossible for any would-be spies to decrypt.
One of the most interesting features is the built in shop which allows anybody to list items for sale in return for FAI coins.
Purchases are made directly over the blockchain with all order info sent in the same transaction as the payment. The messaging system described above is used to facilitate communication between the buyer and seller using the same IDs as they will use for the actual transaction. Unique digital products can even be delivered automatically to the buyer by the network itself as soon as the payment is received – although encryption via the messaging system may be required to prevent other people accessing the product via the blockchain after the sale is confirmed.
To reduce the risk of Fraud sellers will build up the reputation of their ID to engender trust. Buyers, on the other hand, are free to create a new account for every purchase if they wish. Creating new accounts and managing multiple accounts from the same client is very easy, and there is even a built-in tool for creating vanity addresses! Sellers wanting to create a shopfront and build a brand can use the domain name feature described below.
All product listings have the same features as a regular post, meaning that other users can leave comments or click to share the listing with their followers.
Other advanced features include a ‘weighted multi-sig’ system – an advanced approach to multi-signature transactions (which can be used to create something like a joint account, or for multi-sig escrow) which goes beyond the ‘n of m’ method used by Bitcoin by allowing each account to have a specified level of authority. A tx override function has also been deployed that will allow users to increase their fee after a transaction has been made, just in case a transaction gets stuck in the mempool during busy periods and the sender wants to increase its priority.
Additional features like a P2P downloader and video player are already being developed and will be added in a future release.
Anonymous, Uncensorable, Serverless Publishing
Publishing content in the form of a single post is easy: You can just type a simple update into the box, add any tags or links you want to include, and then click send – or you can drag and drop a file or image into the box to upload it. You do have to pay a fee in FAI coins to publish something, which is designed to help pay for the cost of securing the network as well as as to prevent spam but, as I will explain further in a subsequent section, there are some good options for getting free coins so you don’t need to buy any if you don’t want to.
The cost of publishing depends on the file size of your post and is calculated for you as you create your post. In the future, when newly generated blocks are full of transactions, users may choose to pay extra fees to make sure that their posts are included in the first possible block, but for the moment you only ever need to pay the minimum transaction fee calculated by the network.
FAI has its own built-in DNS for domains. You can register a .fai domain for a small fee, or pay a few extra φ for a .f domain name which can then appear in the ‘hot’ section of the browser and can be viewed by users running partial nodes as well as full nodes. These domains can be set up to redirect to a regular website, to a particular account ID profile (such as a shop profile) or can point to a fully decentralized site or app hosted on the FAI network.
Domain names can be transferred to another account if the owner wants to sell them or give them away.
The FAI Currency
FAI coins are the internal digital currency of the network. Because the acronym phi is pronounced in the same way as the Greek latter phi the commonly used symbol for phi Φ has been adopted as an icon to represent the network as a whole. The lower case letter phi φ is used as a currency symbol to specifically refer to the coins.
These coins can be used as an anonymous digital currency as well as to pay network fees for publishing your own content.
Get Free FAI Coins
There are three ways to get free coins so you can get started without needing to buy any:
Like any other cryptocurrency FAI coins can be ‘mined’ by users to donate their computer’s resources to maintaining the network. Currently the details of the algorithm being used have not been released, as the developers are waiting until they hit the 1000 user mark before making their code open source (this is to deter altcoin makers from copy and pasting their code to create a clone network). They have stated, however, that it will use a new algorithm which is resistant to current ASIC miners. Currently only CPU mining is supported, although GPU mining will also be possible in the future.
If you want to try your hand at mining then all you need to do is to click the ‘miner’ tab and then click ‘start mining’. It will even track your hash rate and calculate how often you can expect to win a block reward, so you can immediately get some idea of how much you will earn.
Free Starter Coins
As a special launch promo anybody who downloads the client can email firstname.lastname@example.org to request φ10 to get started with. This is enough to publish 10000 bytes of content.
Once you have used one of the first two methods to get sufficient coins to make your first few posts, you can also start earning free coins by posting good quality content. At the moment anything you post which isn’t outright spam will get the transaction fee you pay to publish refunded back to you, and any good quality content you upload will get an extra bonus too – so you can earn free coins just by using the FAI network.
If FAI starts to get popular in the future and blocks start to fill up with transactions then the refund and rewards for average content will stop and only the best quality posts will be rewarded.
Of course the fact that a ‘tip’ button is built-in and displayed below every post means that you can also earn free coins from other users, as a thank you for posting content which they appreciate.
Visit the FAI website here: www.f-a-i.net