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Namecoin is a blockchain project that provides a decentralized naming system and trust anchor. Its flagship use-case is a decentralized top-level domain (TLD) which is the cornerstone of a domain name system that is resistant to hijacking and censorship. Among other things, this provides a decentralized trust anchor for Public Key Infrastructure <em>that does not require third party trust</em>. It operates independent from the DNSSEC root trust chain, and can thus offer additional security under some circumstances.

Why does this actually matter to end users?

Without a PKI that is resistant to hijacking and censorship, the security guarantees of TLS are fundamentally incomplete. Namecoin is a very promising blockchain project that can, in principle, be used with any PKI or DNS-like naming system. By removing third-party trust from the TLS PKI, users are protected from man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks and domain name seizures.

Namecoin has some unique characteristics such as that Namecoin domain names can declare their TLS fingerprints directly &mdash without having to trust a certificate authority, notaries, or the regular DNS infrastructure. Namecoin can make anonymity networks significantly more usable by giving them a human-readable domain name, such as wikileaks.bit instead of kpvz7ki2v5agwt35.onion. In addition to the TLS PKI and anonymity networks, Namecoin can provide usable, trustless, and censorship-resistant alternatives to a range of critical security infrastructure, such as:

* PGP fingerprints for email and software signing. * OTR fingerprints for XMPP. * Usernames for the Ricochet Tor-based chat software. * TLS client certificates for passwordless login to websites.

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Please check out NLnet's theme funds, such as NGI Assure, NGI0 Discovery (which is focussed on search, discovery and discoverability) and the Internet Hardening Fund.

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