Technology

Bitcloud developers plan to decentralise internet

Bitcoin Image copyright Not specified
Image caption Can the Bitcoin network provide a model for a whole new internet?

An ambitious project has been launched that the developers hope could one day replace the current internet.

Bitcloud aims to harness the same methods used to mine Bitcoins, to provide services currently controlled by internet service providers (ISPs) and corporations.

Individuals would perform tasks such as storing, routing and providing bandwidth, in return for payment.

The founders are searching for developers for the project.

"We will start by decentralising the current internet, and then we can create a new internet to replace it," they said.

Just as Bitcoin miners provide computing power and are rewarded for solving complex mathematical equations with the virtual currency, so individual net users would be rewarded based on how much bandwidth they contribute to the Bitcloud network.

"Adding the profit motive to the equation gives this project a chance to succeed where many others have failed in the past," reads the group's white paper.

A currency known as Cloudcoins is proposed to underpin the network.

"If you're interested in privacy, security, ending internet censorship, decentralising the internet and creating a new mesh network to replace the internet, then you should join or support this project," the group said.

'Much to do'

Among examples of new services, the proposal describes how YouTube could become WeTube.

"WeTube can act as a replacement for YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Soundcloud, Spotify and other audio video streaming services," it said.

Artists would be paid with a percentage of advertising revenues, it said.

Critics may question how such a model can be sustained but the success of Bitcoin suggests that such decentralised networks can work.

Online retailer Overstock began accepting Bitcoin payments earlier this month and recently Google revealed it was looking at ways to integrate Bitcoins into its payment systems.

But the team behind Bitcloud, whose names have not been released, acknowledged they were only at the beginning of the project.

"There are still many key decisions that need to be made in the Bitcloud protocol. We have a basic idea of how everything will work, but we need assistance from programmers and thinkers from around the world who want to help," they said.

"The idea is an interesting thought-experiment at least," Boing Boing co-founder Cory Doctorow blogged on the site.

"Using market forces to allocate resources on the internet is an old one and I remain sceptical that this produces optimal outcomes," he added.

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