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The Dark Web

In the internet, there are different layers: the surface web, the deep web, and the dark web. The surface web is where web pages are that show up when you use search engines such as Google. The deep web is web pages that cannot be accessed through search engines that require a password and or authorization to look at. The dark web is a part of the internet that you can only access with specific software, or configurations with authorization. This layer is a network of untraceable online activity and websites on the internet that do not come up on search engines. Each are accessible by different portals, and all are expansive networks with thousands of webpages, and millions of links.

The dark web was originally designed by the US government to allow spies to exchange information discreetly. They released the software, or Tor, to the public in order to make it harder to distinguish government messages since it’s harder to sift through thousands of people using the web versus just a few. Tor or The Onion Router uses the technique of onion routing, which makes websites anonymous by multiple layers of encryption. (Hale)

A quote used to describe the dark web by Daniel Prince is:

“So just for a minute imagine that the whole internet is a forest – a vast expanse of luscious green as far as the eye can see. And in the forest are well worn paths – to get from A to B. Think of these paths as popular search engines – like Google – allowing you as the user the option to essentially see the wood from the trees and be connected. But away from these paths – and away from Google – the trees of the forest mask your vision. Off the paths it is almost impossible to find anything – unless you know what you’re looking for – so it feels a bit like a treasure hunt. Because really the only way to find anything in this vast forest is to be told where to look. This is how the dark web works – and it is essentially the name given to all the hidden places on the internet. Just like the forest, the dark web hides things well – it hides actions and it hides identities. The dark web also prevents people from knowing who you are, what you are doing and where you are doing it.”

Although the original purpose is pure, this network in the dark web has been repurposed for illegal use. Some have resorted to the dark web for drugs, firearms, and information. Others have turned to it as an option for child pornography and even to hide different finances, extremism, hacking, abuse and fraud. Some positive uses that have come out of the dark web is that it has been used as a tool for whistleblowers to anonymously upload classified information to the press and also used to surpass the national firewall in China.

The world’s response to this abuse of the dark web is hopeful though. There have been search teams constructed to take down different illegal operations such as the child pornography ring recently shut down in Italy. Another example is the take down of the valued 34.5 million-dollar ‘Silk Road’ that traffics illegal drugs and different documentation through the dark web. The FBI finally caught the man behind the Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, and detained him in 2013. He was sentenced to life in prison in February of 2015 for multiple felonies. (Hale)

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October 2016