How an Australian start-up inadvertently helped 8chan get back online
(Source: abc.net.au)

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(Original link: abc.net.au)

After months in the dark, the anonymous message board website 8chan came tentatively back online this week. It even had a new name: 8kun. Key points: After being pushed offline in August, 8chan struggled to come back online this week One version of the site, now 8kun, was built on tech made by a Melbourne start-up Loki says their network is built to be decentralised, so anyone can use it
Widely seen as a breeding ground for conspiracy theories and white supremacist content, 8chan was pushed offline in August after being denied critical services by web infrastructure companies like Cloudflare.
This came in response to sustained public outcry after the site hosted manifestos related to both the Christchurch terror attack and El Paso shooting this year. External Link: @eastdakota We just sent notice we are terminating service for 8chan
But 8chan administrators have long been trying to bring the website back.
One, Ron Watkins, somewhat succeeded this week, with a version called 8kun that was occasionally accessible on the open internet.
But in an attempt to make the website more censorship-proof, he also built a version separate from the normal internet, tweeting on Saturday "8kun is also available on the new and experimental lokinet".
This move ensnared an Australian start-up, Loki — the creators of Lokinet — which markets a commitment to free speech and privacy.
Simon Harman, 23, Loki's project lead, said Mr Watkin's plan was by and large a surprise — and one, he conceded, that might not be optimal for the company's emerging reputation.
"The first we heard of it was, one of the administrators came in public channels and basically just said that they were interested in [Lokinet]," he said.
"We did not ask for this." Married to the Alt-Right Married to the alt-right
Married to the alt-right
The ugly past catches up with a young Australian couple, just months after they walked down the aisle in a classic white wedding. Designed to evade scrutiny
The re-emergence of 8chan comes as countries like Australia and the United States are cracking down on encrypted communications, arguing they allow criminals to obscure their activities.
There is also ongoing scrutiny of social media platforms, and their role in spreading and amplifying extreme content.
After the Christchurch terror attack, which was livestreamed on Facebook, Australia introduced widely criticised laws that compel service providers to block platforms sharing "abhorrent, violent content".
Founded in Melbourne, Loki has a free speech ethos, and has created a variety of privacy tools that are still under development — and are largely designed for users to evade scrutiny.
They include a cryptocurrency, a secure messaging app and importantly, a network — Lokinet.
This system functions similar to the Tor network, which allows people to communicate anonymously. Lokinet can also host web applications, like a version of the 8kun message board.
Mr Harman says Loki did not invite 8kun onto its open source network nor help build it.
But some Loki staff may have advised 8kun administrators "to a limited extent", he said, and provided some help to users hoping to access it.
"Generally, if we get requests for technical information about our platform, we'll just give it out. It's all up open source anyway," he said.
"There's definitely been interaction between 8chan users and the Lokinet team. I'm not going to say that that hasn't occurred, but I don't think it's anything out of the ordinary."
Lokinet is still in a test phase and vulnerable to some attacks. It may also not yet be wholly anonymous due to its relatively small size.
Cryptography expert Dr Vanessa Teague said any network of this kind depends on having a large enough network to hide traffic patterns.
"Loki has some market-based mechanisms for incentivising a large amount of participation in the network but, again, it's only as good as the size of the crowd," she said.
Mr Watkins did not respond to a request for comment. Fredrick Brennan created 8chan in 2013, but has since distanced himself from the site. (YouTube: 8chan)...