Privacy has been fighting a losing battle on Internet since its inception. It’s been under fire from both good and bad guys. The good guys want to help users navigate the Internet, advertise deals and specials, provide directions from location to location and even address health. While the bad guys want to take advantage of personal information, provide directions to a mugging location, rip-off bank accounts and even sell a bridge.
Many in society today are “Slipping into Darkness.” No, not that kind of darkness. They are slipping into the darkness of the Deep Web, for the sake of privacy through its anonymity. Anonymity on the web is becoming the only way to browse, to the chagrin of tracking software.
While your average computer Internet connection has access to an amazing wealth of information, there’s also an entire world that’s invisible to your standard Web browser. These parts of the Internet are known as the Deep Web. Once only the haven of what is considered “Bad”, more and more average people who want to browse the Web anonymously are signing on, and the tools to get you there are just a few clicks away.
Ninety-Six percent of the Internet isn’t accessible through standard search engines. Most of its useless but it’s where you go to find anything and everything, even a hacker for hire.
Wired reporter Kim Zetter says there is a distinction between what’s called the Deep Web and what are known as Darknet sites. “The Deep Web is anything not accessible through the commercial search engines.” The Darknet is a specific part of the hidden Web where you can operate in total anonymity. Without being tracked, people can access websites that sell and access stuff that’s actually against the law.
One such black-market site, Silk Road, got attention fall of 2013 after a crackdown by the FBI. Zeeter says the Darknet has another purpose that doesn’t usually make the news: It helps political dissidents who want to evade government censors.
‘Tor’ is the main browser people use to access this part of the Web where anonymity reigns. “Tor” is an acronym for The Onion Router; the onion refers to the layers you go through to disguise your identity.
“No one will be able to see you’re the one visiting those websites, and the websites will not be able to see you either,” says Runa Sandvik, a privacy and security researcher. “They will only be able to see that you’re using Tor to do something.”
Despite the reputation Silk Road brought to the Deep Web, Sandvik says there’s a lot more going on besides criminal activity. “There’s human rights activists, journalists, military, law enforcement [and] normal people,” she says. “It just really depends on what you want to do.”
Tor’s executive director is working with victims of domestic abuse, who need to communicate without being tracked by their abusers. Tor use jumped in 2013, with the revelation of the National Security Agency’s surveillance program. Sandvik estimates there are close to a million daily users worldwide.
With Americans increasingly concerned about being monitored online by corporations, or their government, that number is certain to grow.
Read Article (Staff | npr.org | 05/28/2014)
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