Bootstrapping the Freenet WoT with GnuPG - and GnuPG with Freenet


When you enter the freenet Web of Trust, you first need to get some trust from people by solving captchas. And even when people trust you somehow, you have no way to prove your identity in an automatic way, so you can’t create identities which freenet can label as trusted without manual intervention from your side.


To change this, we can use the Web of Trust used in GnuPG to infer trust relationships between freenet WoT IDs.

Practically that means:

  • Write a message: “I am the WoT ID USK@” (replace with the public key of your WoT ID).
  • Sign that message with a GnuPG key you want to connect to the ID. The signature proves, that you control the GnuPG key.
  • Upload the signed message to your WoT key: USK@/bootstrap/0/gnupg.asc. To make this upload, you need the private key of the ID, so the upload proves, that you control the WoT ID.

Now other people can download the file from you, and when they trust the GnuPG key, they can transfer their trust to the freenet WoT-ID.


Ideally all this should be mostly automatic:

  • click a link in the freenet interface and select the WoT ID to have freenet create the file and run your local GnuPG program.
  • Then select your GnuPG key in the GnuPG program and enter your password.
  • Finally check the information to be inserted and press a button to start the upload.

As soon as you have a GnuPG key connected with your WoT ID, freenet should scout all other WoT IDs for gnupg keys and check if the local GnuPG key you assigned to your WoT ID trusts the other key. If yes, give automatic trust (real person → likely no spammer).


To make the connection one-way (bootstrap the WoT from GnuPG, but not expose the key), you might be able to encrypt the message to all people who signed your GnuPG key. Then these can recognize you, but others cannot.

This will lose you the indirect trust in the GnuPG web-of-trust, though.

I hope this bootstrap-WoT draft sounded interesting :)

Happy hacking!

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