MaidSafe community experts dismiss legal concerns

In this hilarious exchange between a user and resident pumpers (forum admins), the admins and the MaidSafe simpleton John Ferguson explain why MaidSafe Hong Kong will not be impacted by the new cybersecurity law in China.

BigBTC asks:

On the surface this looks good for Maidsafe but “It further requires network operators to provide “technical support” to authorities for national security and criminal investigations.” Maidsafe will have issues circumventing this law? How will Maidsafe co-exist with such stringent controls?

And the community experts are here to help! First goes John Ferguson:

Don’t see how. It’d be sort of like attacking Linus Torvalds for maintaining the Linux kernel that somebody’s home computer runs on.

MaidSafe is more like the creator of a protocol. Who do you go to to clamp down on bittorrent usage.

The simpleton conveniently forget that all vaults on current alpha (or beta, whatever) SAFE network are paid for and operated by MaidSafe the company.

Next we got some invaluable insights from a hero member and forum admin, neo.

So I don’t see a problem. That company could provide all the assistance, but it doesn’t affect the code base because those companies are not involved in that, and its open sourced anyhow, so anything the HK company could do the china government could do themselves.

I guess it comes down to the roles any such enterprise are engaged in.

  • they are not a company keeping any data so those aspects don’t affect any such company
  • the law then only can ask for technical assistance/support in “national security and criminal investigations.”

Why are they talking about Hong Kong here? As you remember, the botched fund-raising at Bankruptcy to the Future somehow (don’t ask) includes a joint investment in Hong Kong.

Here’s what the news actually means:

  1. Any issue that the government of China wants to make a national security issue (let alone criminal investigation) is going to be a national security issue. Reporting on the electricity consumption can be a national security issue.
  2. Even if MaidSafe’s future Hong Kong entity was able to magically do business in China, unless it explicitly cooperates with the government, it won’t last long.
  3.  Whoever came up with the idea to target China’s firewall-evading market out of Hong Kong isn’t particularly smart. The “agreement” (which doesn’t exist, for now MaidSafe just took the money) to invest in Hong Kong might not be executed.
  4. MaidSafe at the moment runs both vaults and seed servers, and due to their world-famous Proof of Ridiculousness architecture there’s no way they will not run seed servers in all of 2017 and quite possibly beyond. A company that runs seed servers most certainly isn’t “just a company that invented the protocol”.
  5. At the moment – and I estimate until at least mid-2017 –  MaidSafe the company will also run vaults, meaning that any SafeNet data (including possibly China state secrets) would be stored and distributed by MaidSafe the company. While MaidSafe can’t do much about what people store, they can’t negate that such data exist, and they cannot refuse to help the China government with network/log analysis.

In summary, they’re very much impacted and these concerns cannot be dismissed. But what do we know?

Recently the silly old issue of illegal data on the SAFE network was re-raised here in “Legality issues of storing someone else’s files on your computer”. Nothing new was said compared to before. In fact the discussion was shallow and missed come subtleties that previous discussions didn’t.

  1. MaidSafe the company runs the vaults, so any illegal stuff on the network is hosted and distributed by the company. It doesn’t matter that the data is encrypted. If there’s something illegal on the network right now, it’s precisely on those 20 or so VMs that MaidSafe hosts and operates on Digital Ocean. If you don’t want to be sued for hosting illegal porn, shut down the network or else. If you can’t figure out which of your servers hosts the file, shut them all down.
  2. While individual MaidSafe vaults hold only encrypted pieces of larger files and don’t know what exactly is stored on in the vault, nodes also relay unencrypted file chunks and could perform data analysis on those chunks and see where the chunks are coming from and who’s accessing them.

Due to various reasons, business and technical, MaidSafe has zero chance to do business in China in 2017 and probably beyond that as well. This is essentially part of my argument that no enterprise needs MaidSafs features (which was a big claim about targeting enterprise customers and ISVs when the failed project was raising funds at Bankruptcy to the Future).

MaidSafe can’t be monetized in China so there’s no value in running a shop there.


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