Surfing the Deep Web

Time Magazine, November 11, 2013

THE DEEP WEB: by Lev Grossman and Jay Newton -Small

“Ten years ago the government built a totally private, anonymous network.  Now its a haven for drugs and child pornography…


Unlike conventional Internet browser’s, Tor’s allows users to surf the Web anonymously. But Tor is also the portal to illegal commerce sites like Silk Road.  Here’s how it works: (Graphic)

Silk Road (is) a wildly successful online bazaar where people bought and sold illegal goods–primarily drugs but also fake IDs, fireworks and hacking software.  They could do this without getting caught because Silk road was located in a little-known  region of the Internet called the Deep Web…

…the Deep Web is a specific branch of the Internet that’s distinguished by the increasingly rare commodity: complete anonymity.  Nothing you do on the Deep Web can be associated with your real-world identity, unless you choose it to be.  Most people never see it, though the software you need to access it is free and takes less than three minutes to download and install.  If there’s a part of the grid that can be considered off the grid, it’s the Deep Web…, a vital tool for intelligence agents, law enforcement political dissidents and anybody who needs or wants to conduct their online affairs in private…”

Some of the sources for this article (8 pages), which includes graphics, is “Tor Project: University of Luxembourg; Electronic Frontier Foundation; Bright Planet.”

One can surf ocean waves and surf the internet,  the latter metaphorical use is ubiquitous, almost replacing the original use of the term.

This is from the Tor site:  “Tor was originally designed, implemented, and deployed as a third-generation onion routing project of the Naval Research Laboratory. It was originally developed with the U.S. Navy in mind, for the primary purpose of protecting government communications. Today, it is used every day for a wide variety of purposes by the military, journalists, law enforcement officers, activists, and many others…

(…Users) protect their privacy from unscrupulous marketers and identity thieves. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) sell your Internet browsing records to marketers or anyone else willing to pay for it. ISPs typically say that they anonymize the data by not providing personally identifiable information, but this has proven incorrect. A full record of every site you visit, the text of every search you perform, and potentially userid and even password information can still be part of this data. In addition to your ISP, the websites (and search engines) you visit have their own logs, containing the same or more information.”

There is more on the Tor site.  A lot of it relates to privacy and firewall issues.



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