There is a hidden underworld of the internet; a mecca for the anonymous. A nefarious place that hosts curious and the mischievous. A place known as ‘The Deep Web.’
As the largest index on the internet, Google only documents about .003% of the internet. This is known by many names: the visible web, clarinet, indexed web, lightnet, and surface web. So what else is out there? Well, there’s the lighthearted web pages that could be anywhere from private email accounts to university protected internet archives. And then there’s the wicked web. The dark web. Password protected; buried data; hidden locations, sources, and content creators. This place is a haven for criminals alike. These are the places that tell search engines to ignore them, to turn a blind eye to these unindexed parts of the internet. Now, don’t get me wrong, not everyone there is some evil genius sitting behind a computer, wreaking havoc on some major corporation’s website. Some are just information seekers, wanting a taste of the forbidden knowledge. Who could resist?
How is all of this possible? How can this be? One word. Tor. Also known as the onion router, Tor is the search engine used for the dark web. Originally created by the United States Naval Research Laboratory in the 90’s, Tor was mainly being used for communication with political dissidents. This was all fine and dandy until word got out. Tor lets you access blocked websites, hides your location, and prevents people (a *cough cough* the government) from seeing what websites you’re visiting. I’m sure you can understand why it is so appealing.
It’s unclear how big the deep web actually is, but it is estimated to be more than 500x the number of accessible web pages. This hidden land is a playground for the curious, for the inquisitive people with a thirst for knowledge. But some want more. You are free to purchase illegal goods such as illicit drugs, child pornography, weapons, copyrighted media, stolen credit card numbers, and exotic animals. This is a place where human trafficking, hit men, and professional kidnappers are all available for sale or hire. They hide in the darkest corners of the web.
One of the most infamous sites, known and respected by many, was The Silk Road. The Silk Road was an anonymous marketplace that was mostly used for privatized drug sales and sought to destroy the war on drugs. The site gathered many loyal users but was shut down by the government. People traded in a fairly new virtual currency, Bitcoin, created in 2008 by Satoshi Nakamoto. Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, decentralized and not backed by any government. Bitcoin has it’s good and bad sides. It is nearly impossible to track the transactions and is driven by precise mathematics. But there is also a terrible fluctuation of prices. They have been known to shrink to less than ten percent of the previous price, to more than five hundred percent. This can be very dangerous for the holders.
After The Silk Road shut down, many more popped up in its place. Some of them are still around but it’s become a sort of whack-a-mole game with the government. You close one up, three more pop up in its place. The Dark Web really does gets a bad rep. But one of the most respectful aspects is its ability to allow citizens in dangerous and unstable countries communicate safely and freely with each other, without fear of retribution from their government. The major activities involving human rights is inspiring to say the least. Knowledge should not be withheld and people deserve the freedom to access it. No one likes the idea of them being in the dark, so to speak. A revolution is upon us.
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