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Freenet has been under continuous development since 2000.

Freenet 0.7, released on , is a major re-write incorporating a number of fundamental changes.

Freenet is a peer-to-peer platform for censorship-resistant communication.

Every node on the Freenet network contributes storage space to hold files and bandwidth that it uses to route requests from its peers.As a direct result of the anonymity requirements, the node requesting content does not normally connect directly to the node that has it; instead, the request is routed across several intermediaries, none of which know which node made the request or which one had it.The most fundamental change is support for darknet operation.Version 0.7 offered two modes of operation: a mode in which it connects only to friends, and an opennet-mode in which it connects to any other Freenet user. When a user switches to pure darknet operation, Freenet becomes very difficult to detect from the outside.On 11 February 2015, Freenet received the SUMA-Award for "protection against total surveillance." Freenet is different from most other peer-to-peer applications, both in how users interact with it and in the security it offers.

It separates the underlying network structure and protocol from how users interact with the network; as a result, there are a variety of ways to access content on the Freenet network.

As of build 1226, released on 30 July 2009, features that have been written include significant security improvements against both attackers acting on the network and physical seizure of the computer running the node.

As of build 1468, released on 11 July 2015, the Freenet core stopped using the db4o database and laid the foundation for an efficient interface to the Web of Trust plugin which provides spam resistance.

The web interface is also used for most configuration and node management tasks.

Through the use of separate applications or plugins loaded into the node software, users can interact with the network in other ways, such as forums similar to web forums or Usenet or interfaces more similar to traditional P2P "filesharing" interfaces.

With Opennet, users connect to arbitrary other users.