Ian Clarke, 26
Pioneered software that delivers Web files quickly, anonymously
Ian Clarke didn’t set out to ignite a debate about Internet free speech and copyrights. But that’s what happened in 2000 when he released Freenet, a free program that shuffles files among Internet-connected computers, enabling people to store and retrieve data easily and anonymously. Maybe is was the fact that , unlike Napster and other peer-to-peer file-sharing systems that rely on observable central indexes, Freenet makes it almost impossible for sensors or copyright owners to trace files. Maybe it was the uncompromising philosophy the County Meath, Ireland, native readily shared: “You cannot have freedom of communication and enforce copyright law.” Yet Clarke says he designed Freenet mainly to test a technical idea he hatched at the University of Edinburgh undergraduate: that a network capable of replicating documents and storing them in multiple locations would bring files closer to frequent users, speeding their delivery. Enthusiasts have since downloaded close to two million copies of Freenet. In 2001 Clarke raised $4 million to start Uprizer in Santa Monica, CA, which sells corporate information management software based on Freenet. He’s now cofounder and CEO of Cematics, also in Santa Monica, a peer-to-peer product development and consultancy company.