Few will disagree that the arrival of the torrent protocol on the Internet represented a major event that forever changed how many people share files online. Torrents may have been adopted mostly for unauthorized sharing of paid content in its first decade of existence, but it's also been adopted by individuals, organizations and companies as a way to cut bandwidth costs or share data more securely.
Not too long ago, Bittorrent launched Bittorrent Sync, which allows individuals to sync or share files with other computers in a secure way. Now, the company wants the whole web to be rebuilt around torrents.
Bittorrent announced the invite-only Alpha version of its Project Maelstrom, which is a browser that fetches websites from other peers instead of a central server. Websites are delivered P2P using the torrent protocol.
"It started with a simple question. What if more of the web worked the way BitTorrent does?" said Eric Klinker, CEO of Bittorrent, in a blog post.“Project Maelstrom begins to answer that question with our first public release of a web browser that can power a new way for web content to be published, accessed and consumed. Truly an Internet powered by people, one that lowers barriers and denies gatekeepers their grip on our future."
Downloading files through torrents tends to be faster if those files are popular, and therefore shared by more people. The opposite is true with files that don't have too many people sharing them at any given time. A torrent-based browser could face the same issue. However, if the majority of today's popular websites start supporting this browser, most people are unlikely to notice a difference, because a lot of folks tend to visit websites that are already quite popular.
Klinker believes that this torrent-based web could also be the technological solution that can ensure that the Internet remains neutral, and gatekeepers are minimized or even eliminated. Further, because torrents are a more efficient way to deliver data, it could also help with congestion and other problems ISPs may be facing today due to heavy data demands.
The main questions that remain unanswered about this torrent-based browser is whether others could build similar browsers that would be compatible with this "new torrent-based web" by adopting a certain open source standard that Bittorrent releases, and whether this open standard would come with built-in encryption. Most torrents out there aren't encrypted, but the fact that Bittorrent Sync torrents are gives us some hope for built-in security.
If you want to remain up-to-date with this project, you can sign up and wait for an invitation.