MaidSafe, over seven years in development, aims to create no less than a fully peer-to-peer and decentralised Internet platform, in which all data is 'shredded', encrypted and distributed to an extensive network of computers around the world.
The technology allows developers to build applications in which all data is completely secure, private, and protected from deletion.
During the initial sale, safecoins will be made available via purchase of a 'proxy token' called MaidSafeCoin. These are recorded on the bitcoin block chain and available from buysafecoins.com at a price of 17,000 for 1 BTC, or 3,400 for 1 MSC (Mastercoin).
Initially this will raise funds for the project, but the safecoin tokens themselves are a kind of altcoin for developers and users to 'buy' access to network resources.
The sale begins at 9am GMT on Tuesday 22nd April.
Once the MaidSafe network itself goes live, holders of MaidSafeCoins can swap them for 'regular' (ie: no longer on the bitcoin block chain) safecoin tokens at a 1:1 ratio.
Decentralization at its core
MaidSafe, which stands for "Massive Array of Internet Disks, Secure Access For Everyone" is a 100% open-source project aiming at keeping all data free from malicious intruders and eavesdroppers, at the same time increasing access speed and protecting against hardware failure.
Development of the network is also known as Project SAFE.
Said David Irvine, MaidSafe's founder and CEO:
“What bitcoin is doing for decentralizing money, safecoin will do for decentralizing all Internet services, including enterprise data centers.”
The organization, a 14-member team based in Scotland, was founded in 2006 and has received $5m in funding to date. It has the ambitious goal of replacing all existing major Internet protocols, including HTTP, SMTP, FTP, and DNS.
No third parties
Since MaidSafe is a platform, use of its protocols is all based on a voluntary 'contract' between self-authenticating users and the network itself, without the participation of other humans or the need for passwords to be transmitted across any part of the network.
It uses unused storage space and computing resources provided by users themselves, or 'nodes', to store and run the repetitive and encryption-based tasks that power the system and allow the rightful owners to access or share their data.
File data is also shredded, encrypted by using its own data to generate keys, and sent to numerous physical locations.
This redundancy ensures data is never accidentally lost due to deletion or hardware failure. Physical access to a complete file is impossible, locking out snoopers and data thieves. Denial of service (DOS) attacks are, according to MaidSafe's explanation, "thwarted and useless".
MaidSafe's architecture features 'intelligent caching', which actually increases speed and network performance to the most-accessed data as more users join, rather than slowing it down due to server pressure on the existing Internet.
Software running on the various nodes allocates and optimizes network resources, and routes around failures or machines that happen to be offline.
The network's nodes are chained together in a cryptographic consensus model similar to a block chain, in which they watch (anonymously) each others' behaviour and raise the alarm in case of any discrepancy.
Released to the world
As well as open-sourcing all the code that enables the system, MaidSafe has released all its patents and algorithms for public use at no cost. The patents are officially owned by a registered charity called the MaidSafe Foundation, and are to be used "only in a defensive capacity".
Developers can access the open API to build decentralized applications that are fully secure and private.
MaidSafe sees its system being used for any communications requiring this level of security and privacy, and suggests it for sharing scientific research data, whistleblowing activism, and more prosaic uses such as personal data storage, social networking, and simple communications like messaging, email and video/voice chat.
"Real sharing will defeat many global issues," says MaidSafe's introductory video.
The safecoin/MaidSafeCoin crowd-sale will continue for 30 days or until 10% (429,496,729) of the total tokens are sold, whichever happens first.
Bonus MaidSafeCoins will also be allocated on a sliding scale to early buyers, with first-weekers earning an extra 40%. The bonus drops 10% per week after that until the end of the initial sale.
Once the MaidSafe network is live, users can still earn the remaining safecoins through the system's 'proof of resource' (POR) system known as 'farming', by contributing part of their computers' resources as a node on the network and using fewer resources than they contribute.
Fifteen per cent of all safecoins earned will be contributed as an incentive to the pool of developers, or 'builders', who create the applications necessary for ordinary users to utilize MaidSafe's features.
Image & video courtesy of MaidSafe