Can Decentralized, Blockchain-Based Internet Become a Reality?

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Can Decentralized, Blockchain-Based Internet Become a Reality?
21 Feb 2022
4 min read

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Several new projects are attempting to develop a decentralized, blockchain-based Internet alternative in which peer-to-peer service providers replace centralized intermediaries. Several challenges face these projects, including getting enough users and service providers to make the network competitive with existing services. #TWN

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With the Internet becoming a modern-day necessity, there's a rising movement to free it from the grip of regulatory agencies and monopolistic IT behemoths. Many internet users are apprehensive of companies that follow and sell their most personal information.

These difficulties have paved the way for a new concept: a decentralized Internet built on open-source blockchain networks. Several projects are attempting to replace major components of internet infrastructure with decentralized, peer-to-peer systems that do not rely on a single mediator or single point of failure. This article examines some of the prospective offerings as well as the challenges they may face.

Problems with Centralized Internet

Corporations, application developers, and governments track and gather user data regularly, and the Internet is constantly monitored. A blockchain-based alternative can address this problem by replacing Internet behemoths with a decentralized, peer-to-peer network of providers.

In this scenario, community members would own and control the storage and computing infrastructure. Governments and companies would lose control of the internet, ensuring net neutrality. It is also envisaged that this version of the Internet will assure data security. User data and applications are often kept on central servers on existing Internet platforms, allowing firms to construct thorough profiles of their consumers. During Facebook's Cambridge Analytica debacle, for example, this data was exploited to manipulate populations and election results.

Decentralized Internet Projects

Several initiatives are attempting to replace important Internet services with blockchain-based alternatives. Filecoin, for example, aims to replace centralized cloud storage providers with a decentralized file storage network that allows users to rent out empty hard drive space for cryptocurrency. The files are encrypted, allowing customers to rent external storage while preserving their data. Andrena, for example, wants to replace centralized routing networks with peer-to-peer mesh networks. Although this would be subject to market forces, a decentralized Internet could provide major cost advantages. Anyone with an Internet connection might supply basic cloud services instead of relying on Internet Service Providers.

Issues with Blockchain Internet

Though the concept of a blockchain-based Internet appears to be possible, there are several obstacles to overcome. One of the most difficult challenges, like with other blockchain projects, will be recruiting a critical mass of users so that the platform can benefit from network effects. Second, in the blockchain world, misuse owing to anonymity is a huge issue, with cryptocurrencies being used for criminal purposes such as selling illegal narcotics or weapons. Given that data privacy is a fundamental goal of the decentralized Internet, it's unclear how—or if—such a system would keep users from engaging in illicit behavior.

Finally, network participants are responsible for executing the software that keeps the system running. Participants may quit providing their computational resources if the monetary rewards for participation are not attractive enough to stimulate their contributions. To make the decentralized blockchain-based Internet sustainable, a delicate balance will be required.

Conclusion

While the concept of a decentralized blockchain-based Internet is gaining traction, putting it into practice would require a pragmatic and balanced approach throughout the whole ecosystem. Even in the best-case scenario, several challenges must be overcome before such a system can be made available to the majority of Internet users. The concept is still in its early phases of development, and its path to success may be long and uncertain.