Cloudflare recently announced their own IPFS gateway:
Today we’re excited to introduce Cloudflare’s IPFS Gateway, an easy way to access content from the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) that doesn’t require installing and running any special software on your computer. We hope that our gateway, hosted at cloudflare-ipfs.com, will serve as the platform for many new highly-reliable and security-enhanced web applications.
See that? “Highly-reliable” and “security-enhanced”. Riiiiight.
After their CEO recently decided to take down a website that they were supposedly “protecting” against attacks, anyone who trusts Cloudflare today has got to be a fucking idiot. Like I discussed in a previous post:
[…] about a year ago, Cloudflare, a company whose goal purportedly and ironically is to “help build a better Internet” and “protect websites from all manner of attacks,” itself took a website offline after it’s boneheaded CEO Matthew Prince thought “they are assholes.” Here’s what he had to say about it:
Earlier today Cloudflare terminated the account of the Daily Stormer. We’ve stopped proxying their traffic and stopped answering DNS requests for their sites. We’ve taken measures to ensure that they cannot sign up for Cloudflare’s services again.
This was my decision. Our terms of service reserve the right for us to terminate users of our network at our sole discretion. My rationale for making this decision was simple: the people behind the Daily Stormer are assholes and I’d had enough.
Let me be clear: this was an arbitrary decision. […] I woke up this morning in a bad mood and decided to kick them off the Internet. […] It was a decision I could make because I’m the CEO of a major Internet infrastructure company.
Having made that decision we now need to talk about why it is so dangerous. I’ll be posting something on our blog later today. Literally, I woke up in a bad mood and decided someone shouldn’t be allowed on the Internet. No one should have that power.
Yes that’s right, you fucking moron, you should not have that kind of power and nobody else should either. Centralized power corrupts, and this much centralized power corrupts absolutely as we’re seeing every day now. And it’ll only get worse if this is allowed to continue.
Remember the saying, “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”?
The whole idea behind IPFS is that there should be no centralized control and access of the network. Cloudflare is attempting to man-in-the-middle (MITM) themselves between users and the network, and if they gain popularity and many (possibly even most) people start using them as their gateway, they’re going to effectively be able to control what those users can or cannot access on the IPFS network. This would be similar to how companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter are able to influence and even control online discourse by selectively censoring certain content, often without users even realizing it. And with a company like Cloudflare, that has already demonstrated their willingness to take content down (again, just like Apple, Facebook, Google, Twitter and others), this is a very dangerous development. They’re already encouraging people to report “abuse”:
IPFS is a peer-to-peer network, so there is the possibility of users sharing abusive content. This is not something we support or condone. However, just like how Cloudflare works with more traditional customers, Cloudflare’s IPFS gateway is simply a cache in front of IPFS. Cloudflare does not have the ability to modify or remove content from the IPFS network. If any abusive content is found that is served by the Cloudflare IPFS gateway, you can use the standard abuse reporting mechanism described here.
And remember that “abuse” appears to be very open to anyone’s interpretation today on the Internet, especially when it comes to the big social media companies and their precious “community standards”.
Cloudflare’s plans go even further than just MITM-ing IPFS:
The IPFS Gateway is the first product to be released as part of our Distributed Web Gateway project, which will eventually encompass all of our efforts to support new distributed web technologies.
After all the control, censorship, privacy violations and general abuse and disrespect that companies such as Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter and others have demonstrated recently, the trend is now that developers are looking more and more at creating distributed and decentralized alternatives to the existing centralized services on the Internet. It looks like Cloudflare wants to position itself as much as possible as some kind of gatekeeper in order to be able to control those alternatives, much like Google and Facebook on today’s Internet.
So if you’re fucking stupid, then by all means go ahead and use their services. If, however, you’re smarter than the people currently using Cloudflare, then go to the official IPFS website and follow the instructions there to install and use IPFS.