Boundary Nodes as Censors

The miners in practice quite clearly don’t have the power. If they try to go it alone against the wider network (users, non-mining nodes, businesses built on top of the network), nobody will follow them. They tried to increase the block size in 2016 and failed. Also in POS if validators collude to censor, a hard fork will result in their stake being lost. They have even less power than miners.

The NNS is only one part of The IC community. It’s only token holders. The community is users, node operators, businesses built around The IC and much more. Among the token holders, the richer ones have most power. The NNS deciding is merely the powerful deciding. It’s recreating what already exists.

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Yeah this is one of the things I like the least about IC, rich people not only have more power cause they have more tokens, but it also increases gradually thanks to staking rewards and neuron maturity, that means if you have money now and invest big time in 10 years nobody will be able to catch up.

Sounds like mining bitcoin 10 years ago


I agree, right now we can not make a backup of canister (correct me if I’m wrong). So if it is deleted than all data is gone.

Not really, if you mined 10 years ago you just have more money than you did assuming you kept most of it, you dont have more power than others on the network, so lets say you’ve became a millionaire by mining BTC 10 years ago and I’m a millionaire by other means, if we both decided to reinvest in mining equipment to have power on the network we’d both have the same, regardless on your 10 year head start. With ICP not only the one who started 10 years ago has a huge advantage cause he bought more tokens for less and has earned staking rewards, he also has gained maturity on the neuron, so for me to catch up with him I’d have to spend 10 maybe 100 times more. So the rich get richer and gain more power.

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The trick being proposed here is that all boundary nodes resolved by special domain be run in jurisdictions where DMCA doesn’t apply.

There are 7 countries that don’t honor DMCA one can simply run a subnet and boundary nodes there. Also one can simply run existing boundary nodes in such DMCA-free jurisdictions.

This proposal at best “moves” the problem from node providers to boundary nodes. Don’t think provides much on censorship resistance. If a censorship resistance trick to evade DMCA existed why wouldn’t we apply it on the domain itself?

Also, DMCA can be invoked against any OSP in the chain that delivers the contents. So if I were Nintendo, and my copyrighted content is still accessible via it will first go after boundary nodes failing which I will go after node providers.

non-legally-compliant node, but may still be possible.

the nodes would expect ICP rewards so they will technically go via a KYC. With KYC there is no room for being non-legally-compliant

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Honestly there isn’t much to consider here as I see it.
What is the alternative route to what is being proposed?

Yes the team is amazing and the technology is unparalleled, an unparalleled piece of technology that will be left behind without hesitation if a path to decentralization and coherence with crypto ethos and industry standards that have already been set (IPFS, Arweave, Holochain) doesn’t begin at this early stage.
Should be easy to see how that’s the case by observing the narrative that is being used to very effectively kill interest in the project: centralization, the kind that it isn’t clear dfinity wants to get rid of.

I’d rather not get philosophical but the kind of concern being brought about by relevant people beg of it:
New technology has always and will always bring with it new ways to commit crimes and do bad. I wish it didn’t, but it does. If it didn’t then there was simply nothing new about it.
Law enforcement is to evolve and develop new ways to approach this AROUND the technology, NOT WITHIN it. It’s a dialectic that can not be stopped and the kind of “lack” that one area produces in the others is what fuels the others to progress further.


I don’t think it’s fair to say that the NNS is somehow more susceptible to the influence of rich people than any other blockchain be it PoW or PoS. As someone who has looked at them all, being a newcomer, they all seem to put control into the hands of who can afford the most hardware or buy the most tokens. The thing that was most appealing to me about the NNS is the liquid democracy and the ability to gain power through followers and the fact that long term commitments were rewarded with more voting power.

Not suggesting we can’t improve upon it. But I’m definitely not in favor of removing governance all together


Not sure if it can be done, but if this system is implemented then the end user should only be able to know which boundary node is serving the content and not the node where the content is actually hosted on.

Sorry for being wildly off-topic here, just to prove my point:
If I put 1 million usd into BTC mining 10 years ago (electricity out of pocket), no way you will ever mine the amount of BTC I have accumulated in the last 10 years putting in 1 million now. Same is true for my basement mined ETH that I’m able to stake now.

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True but on BTC network the amount of BTC you own doesnt matter for consensus, hash rate does. Mining is also different than buying tokens from investor rounds, 1 million in mining equipment 10 years ago would have been outdated after a couple years, so you had to constantly invest new money if you wanted to keep up with others.

My point is miners always have to upgrade their infrastructure and pay bills if they want to keep their voting power, so while a head start gives you an advantage if I invest to own as much HW as another pool I get the same power as they have, with ICP early investors already have huge advantage cause of lower entry price + rewards but on top of that there is also neuron maturity, so a 1k fresh neuron has less power than one thats 8 years old.

If the boundary operator retains no content on their site and they were to take action, would it not undermine the position of being just a “telecom carrier” vs being a content moderator? I agree, the proposal will provide the boundary operator with a mechanism to comply with an IP infringement request.

The effect of filtering at the boundary node will yield no relief for the IP owner as their content will be as accessible due to the resilient nature of the ICP architecture. I expect lawyers of unhappy clients to quickly learn that taking down a boundary node is insufficient and then immediately take aim at the node operators and/or the data centre operators.


I fear giving the nodes the power to censor would actually make them way too powerful/vulnerable. Unless they are everywhere.
How to separate the protocol from the application layer on the IC?

@harrison makes most sense imo.

Gateways with some kind of terms of use agreement? But then again who’s the judge?

Ideally the canister owner should be liable for the content, nobody else.
But in law usually things aren’t quite clear cut, specially on issues that haven’t been argued before on some higher judicial level. So till there is some ruling taking the nodes out of the line of fire they’ll likely keep getting notices.

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Unfortunately I have to agree

Medium term, and given the alternative is either:

  1. Do nothing.
  2. Start Invoking NNS Deletes.

I think this is our most viable option, especially when coupled with something like canister shuffling. The larger blockchain community is already very hesitant towards to IC; most days I worry the perception of the IC is eroding more quickly than we are building it up. If we start NNS deleting these things out of the gate I worry the reputation of the IC will be destroyed.

It is worth calling out we can enact this now and in the future remove it, if / when we come up with a better solution. These are as much tools as solutions, and we can pick and choose what tool to use, when we use it, and how long we use it. As with any tool, it commands respect, and its important to make sure you’re choosing the right tool for the job.

In my own personal belief framework there is a lot of content that I believe the IC shouldn’t host. However, I recognize my system isn’t Harrisons framework or anyone else’s for that matter. What should and should not end up on the IC is a hard topic to tackle.

Yes, there are some items I know we’ll all agree on. Even still I argue it isn’t that simple. For example In the event someone uploads a “snuff film”, are we to expect every neuron voter will go watch this video and attempt to figure out if is was actually a real murder? Some will I’m sure, but is isn’t realistic. Now, do this thought experiment with CP… With the current voting structure even the delete path isn’t sustainable and frankly could be psychologically damaging long term (this last part is my opinion)*.

Still have more to say here, but will follow up in another post.


Firstly, thanks for being at the forefront of all critical discussions on the IC @lastmjs ~ appreciate it!

Now for my silly question ~ in one of @Arthur’s recent podcasts (26min 25secs onwards), both Matt Grogan (OpenChat) and Arthur discussed about the Boundary Nodes being “a dirty little secret of the Internet Computer” which is run and controlled by the Dfinity Foundation (for now at least). This was also clarified by a Dfinity team member in a Reddit post 2 months ago here.

In addition, given these boundary nodes have information on location of canisters as noted in Arthur’s podcast with Manu & Diego here (15min 30 secs onwards), I guess any DMCA requests will be directed to the Dfinity Foundation unless it has a clear plan to open up the Boundary Nodes to the general public (if not already done so) in the near future.

From my understanding of @diegop’s recent ‘Long Term R&D: Boundary Nodes’ post, it appears that the decentralisation of Boundary Nodes appears to be more of a long term plan:

It is proposed to enhance the design and implementation of the boundary nodes in several aspects, to make their deployment and operation more decentralized, make them easier to deploy and upgrade, and increase their security.

Their scope is years, not weeks or months as in previous NNS motions

Unless Boundary Nodes are open to the general public soon, Dfinity Foundation themselves will be the sole entity responsible for censoring canisters against which Dfinity Foundation will be an easy target for DMCA requests for some time.

I also understand from the Reddit post noted above that there will be a roadmap for the Dfinity Foundation to open up the Boundary Nodes to others however, have not seen any further information about this apart from Diego’s Long Term R&D post (noted above).

So going forward, for ‘Boundary Nodes as Censors’ to be effective (and not be the sole responsibility of the Dfinity Foundation), we will need to find out if and when the Boundary Nodes will be open to the general public to host (instead of being run and owned by Dfinity unless this has already occurred without our knowledge).

Please correct me if I am completely wrong and/or missing the point here.



I would have expected more transparency around the control of the boundary nodes to be disclosed in the summary that unleashed this entire debate. Not doing so breeds cynicism. Thanks for this post.


I have a general question on boundary nodes…

Does this mean that the content would always still be on the Internet Computer but just that the boundary nodes would stop people from accessing it?


If all boundary were set to filter - it would be blocked from the front end. If filtered by only a few of the nodes, the content would be available. The content would still be on the canister and accessible by another canister.


Since you quoted my words, I thought I should clarify (clearly I left room for interpretation).

Macro: (My intent)

The proposal that is meant for years is not the decentralization of boundary nodes…. It is the long term researching and implementation of boundary node related activities. Akin to “let’s build a team internally to handle all boundary node issues” or “let’s make this a thread from where projects are born from.”

For example, the scalability proposal is about all possible scalability issues. It is no single project. Some projects take days or weeks. Having that as a thread is a multi-year effort.

That was my intent.

Micro: the boundary node folks intent

Folks like Yotam can explain more different blockers and timelines and levels of difficulty and priorities. Do not take my intent about building up “strong arms” for the foundation as me dictating or predicting their work. The boundary nodes folks are working on their 1-pager to explain what they are thinking, so I think some things may be clearer once that is out.

I hope that helps explain what I intended. Sorry for confusion.