Out of Control

Volume 03, Issue 1

Out of Control: Information Sharing, Security and Anonymity in the Internet (original title: アウト・オブ・コントロールネットにおける情報共有・セキュリティ・匿名性) by Takushi Otani(大谷卓史), is a comprehensive review of the current problems and possibilities in the Japanese Internet environment, written in relation to the development and incidents encompassing the Japanese file-sharing software known as Winny.

To fully understand the value of this book, one needs to know and understand what “Winny” is and why it is of any significance. As documented in the book, Winny has been a popular peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing platform in Japan that operates on the Microsoft Windows OS environment. The software was initially distributed in the 2Ch (Channel2) forum and was developed by a former University of Tokyo assistant named Isamu Kaneko. Winny does not require a central server, and is therefore a “pure” peer-to-peer system. Therefore, the network is robust and resilient, making it difficult to terminate. The data communication encoding uses a forwarding function in each computer's cache, in addition to an anonymous bulletin board function, and the design of the system allows each personal user to remain anonymous. The anonymity of Winny has been convenient for file sharing, so the Winny user population increased dramatically since its introduction in May 2002. The increase and popularity of its use prompted authorities to react within the following year. In November 27, 2003, two people who were determined to be using Winny were arrested in violation of copyright laws. As Winny allows the user to remain anonymous, the Japanese National Police Agency needed to make these arrests on circumstantial evidence. On May 10, 2004, the developer Isamu Kaneko was arrested for assisting copyright infringement. The legal basis for his arrest was in his conduct that resulted in copyright infringement propagation.

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