I really like the idea behind Livepeer but it seems that nefarious groups could use this technology to stream highly illegal activity. How will Livepeer address this concern?
Good question. As a protocol for live streaming, Livepeer is agnostic to the bytes of video data that go on the wire, and what they represent. This is similar to other low level protocols and data storage formats like HTTP or JPEG, in that they don’t explicitly make any distinction between whether the 0’s and 1’s represent something nefarious.
But there are a couple layers where this can be addressed.
The application layer - any service that exposes the streams can fight this the same way they fight it in centralized applications - via moderation, flagging, content detection systems, law enforcement, etc. If it’s illegal to distribute a certain piece of content in a certain jurisdiction, it’s still illegal, even though it’s being done through a decentralized system.
Blockchain based curation layer. I think that curation is the perfect candidate for digital currency based work marketplace, since the jobs are small tasks, repeatable, and have a clear value. Imagine a service building on Livepeer, already paying token to transmit video. If it were important to them that the videos were curated, they could add a curation incentive, and the curation job could be picked up by a distributed work network (think distributed mechanical turk).
Over time you could imagine networks forming that provide filtering for DMCA violations and illegal content, and nodes could optionally pay attention to the blacklists that they put out on certain addresses or streamIDs so as not to relay this content through their gateway.
Would law enforcement interference hinder the platform’s ability to circumvent censorship? i.e. If nations in which speaking out against the government is deemed criminal activity, would these applications be subject to the same censorship their centralized streaming counterparts may be subject to?
It would be far more difficult to censor a truly decentralized app (DApp) than to censor a centralized one. So if someone is using Livepeer on the backend to show content only at
example.com, then a government could probably censor
example.com pretty easily. And if
example.com were a centralized company, it would be important that it acted within the bounds of the law.
But if the content was distributed through a locally downloaded native or web based app, talking to a local livepeer node, and not talking to any remote server like
example.com, then this would be far more difficult or impossible to censor. And since there would be no company or individual who owned the dapp, there would be no party to go after who even had the ability to shut it down.
Of course, if the content being shared were illegal, then there’s no way to prevent the authorities from going after the creator, if they can be identified.
I see. Thank you very much for the thoughtful response. I’m excited to see Livepeer’s implementation!