Basic Principles of Speech
10 November 2014
The “Deep Web” Exploring the Dark Corners of the Internet The internet is a vast and incredible landscape of information. Its invention transported us into what many dub “The Information Age,” where the answer to any question is only a click away. At least, that is how it seems. While everyone in modern civilization understands what the internet is, few know about its darker corners; few know about the “Deep Web.” Much like how most humans can only access ten percent of their brain, most computer users can only access ten percent of the internet. The other ninety percent is only accessible through a special search engine called Tor. The goal of this paper is to enlighten the reader about the potential dangers and benefits of accessing the Deep Web, and to expose the modern day Wild West, if you will, that lurks just beneath the surface of the searchable web we all know and love. Let us start with the basics. According to the book The Deep Dark Web: The Hidden World “The Deep Web (also called the Deepnet, the Dark Net, the Invisible Web, the Undernet, or the hidden web) refers to Internet content that is not part of the Surface Web, which is index able by standard search engines. The Dark Web refers to the ToR-Project.onion hidden network which resides on top of the internet; it allows access to Internet content or hidden services that is not part of the Surface Web” (Amores, Paganini 15). To put the scale of the Deep Web into perspective, the Deep Web contains 7,500 terabytes of information, compared to 19 on the surface web. The Deep Web has over 500 billion viewable documents; the surface web has less than one billion. (Iffat, Sami 1-2)
Essentially the Deep Web is a free space where everything and anything is available to the user. No external authority can dictate what the user can or cannot purchase, or what information the user can or cannot exchange. Some view this space as a haven for freedom, while others view it as a threat to global security. Many entrepreneurial minds have seen the potential in such a space, and have taken to setting up online shops, which sell Assault Rifles, forged passports, stolen PayPal accounts, counterfeit money (Euros, U.S. Dollars, Yen, Pounds, anything really), and many more illegal commodities. Many wonder how such a thing can be possible, because even though it is on this Deep Web, it is still on the internet. It is made possible through an internet browser called Tor. Tor has the same functions as big name browsers like Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Firefox; but it does not have the same limitations. Meaning Tor has access to every site on the internet, including Deep Web sites. Tor also provides anonymity to all its users through what they call “The Tor Network.” The Tor Network is a series of volunteer computers that take your internet connection, ping it through three different computers across the globe, and then shoot it out at the other end. This disguises your IP address (your cyber fingerprint) and makes it seem as though you are browsing from a different computer in a different location. This network allows users to anonymously browse and host websites all over the internet.
The most famous, or infamous, of these websites is a marketplace called The Silk Road. The Silk Road is essentially the largest drug market in the world. However because there are so many people on the Silk Road, both buyers and sellers alike, arrests are incredibly low. In October 2013, the FBI was able to take down the Silk Road site and arrest its owner, William Ulbricht. Ulbricht was charged with money laundering, computer hacking, and being connected to an international drug conspiracy (Kien-Meng Ly 603). However, within two months the site was back up at a different web address, the new site is commonly referred to as The Silk Road 2.0. The Silk Road 2.0 was recently shut down by a joint effort by the