Holepunch Demonstrates Importance of Censorship Resistant Apps

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When Holepunch based email?

That is the question that JAN3 CEO Samson Mow asked Holepunch CSO and Keet peer Paolo Ardoino. The possibilities for having email built on top of Holepunch would mean that users would truly be able to own their data on a peer-to-peer (P2P) network.

P2P is a file-sharing system used in computer networking that enables users (peers) to access digital content like files, messages, films, music, e-books, games, etc. Peers are the individual users that make up this network and each one establishes TCP or UDP connections to request files from other peers.

By using a P2P network, Computer hardware and software can exchange data without a centralized server. In contrast to a client-server app, P2P architecture does not use a central server to handle request processing. Peers are able to directly communicate with one another.

All code, data, and files are stored on the hard drives of peers using the network. When you “download” a file, individual parts of that file may be received from various peers and reassembled on your device.

Holepunch

The purpose of Holepunch is to make it easier for developers to use the Hypercore stack to create legitimate P2P apps where users have full control of their data. Hypercore is a P2P data network that is built on signed, append-only logs. These logs function similarly to a blockchain, but do not use a consensus mechanism and do not require that all nodes need to maintain a single global ledger. 

Ardoino and Holepunch CEO Mathias Buus explain in a statement they made to Bitcoin Magazine that “Holepunch offers a range of easy-to-use, collaborative, P2P data structures allowing developers to mainly focus on building great apps rather than having to be networking or P2P experts.”

After three years of development, Holepunch will be publicly available as an open-source SDK in December 2022.

Keet was developed as a demo app to showcase what is possible with Holepunch. The app is a P2P messaging program that was developed by the Hypercore Protocol’s open-source team in cooperation with Bitfinex and Tether. True P2P communication is possible between users of Keet through video, text, and instant file exchange. USDT and Bitcoin Lightning payments are also planned to be integrated.

The application improves upon what apps like Zoom and WhatsApp provide to users because data is not forwarded to a centralized server. The Hypercore Protocol makes apps like Keet faster, more scalable, and secure because it applies signed, append-only logs hosted by individual users.

During the initial announcement of Keet, Mow stated in a Tweet the need for censorship resistant communications in order to further hyperbitcoinization (Bitcoin adoption). With the serverless tech that Keet utilizes, the connection between peers is established purely between one another in a chat.

CEO of Blockstream Adam Back also shared the same sentiment for applications like Keet.

Holepunch-based Email

By using an email provider like Gmail or Microsoft Outlook, multiple computer servers are used for routing emails to user accounts. Each of these servers store every message and route them to their intended recipient.

By relying on a centralized email provider, all data and files are stored on servers that users do not have control over. At any point, the email provider may choose to flag certain messages from being sent or suspend a user from accessing their account at any given time.

While Bitcoin is the perfect case study for censorship resistance against centralized entities, communication platforms like Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram are constantly amplifying the narrative that benefits corporate interests and not the users themselves.

The possibilities for P2P email on Holepunch would allow users to communicate freely without the worry of being censored or booted from their accounts. While most services involve using an email, many users never consider the possibility of losing access to their main email account.

As censorship increases on social media platforms and other outlets for communication, Holepunch applications will continue to grow in popularity for those who no longer have access to or wish to use centralized applications.

In response to Mow’s inquiry for a Holepunch-based email, Ardoino responded that it “Could be a fun project” and that it could be built easily while utilizing a small SMTP server to store a user’s mail data on the Holepunch network.

When Lightning Integration?

In a discussion between Ardoino and Buus, Ardoino explained that Keet has taken inspiration from BitTorrent. However, Holepunch is focused on live streams and not just data (static files) streams in order to “rebuild the world wide web as it should be. Peer-to-peer, secure, private, and free for everyone to build applications on.”

As far as Lightning Network integration with Holepunch, Ardoino cleverly stated in a Twitter thread that Holepunch will not be including Lightning on the platform because “It’s not about money… its about sending a message.”

He adds that Holepunch is a platform focused on data transfer (messages) rather than transferring value (money) between peers.

Despite excluding Lightning from Holepunch, apps built on the platform still have the ability to include Lightning if the developers wish to do so.

On August 12th, the Keet Twitter account announced that Lightning will be an available feature for their app within a few weeks.

The Keet team will also have more to reveal for the app at the Plan B Forum in Lugano during October 28th and 29th.

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Deniz Saat is an IT services specialist, technical writer and editor for BTC Times. His mission is to onboard as many people as possible into the Bitcoin overlay through education and content creation.

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