There's a little region of the internet that's so very secret that's it's not even indexed by the standard search engines, yet you can find it on Wikipedia without looking very hard at all. Its so secret that Time has a cover story on it this week. And if you think there's an awful lot in the real world to be disturbed about, wait until you see what's happening in the virtual world. It's as real as real can be.
There's plenty of good reasons the "deep web" actually even exists. While it's always been a vital tool for the intelligence community as you will see in the Time story, it's also being used now by anyone who wants to keep their online affairs of any sort private. With all the daily information flowing from Edward Snowden, the number of people who want the real privacy they thought they had is increasing and likely will for a good long time to come.
There is a Pew Study out that says 86 percent of us who use the internet have attempted to delete or conceal our digital history. That's a big number and I've got a little news for the naïve. Too late. Your digital fingerprints are there to stay. Forever.
Ever hear of "Silk Road"? According to Forbes, it's dead. But as the headline of their piece says, "Silk Road 2.0' Launches A Resurrected Black Market For The Dark Web." New and improved only a month after the Justice Department closed it down. Gosh the bad guys seem to move fast on the internet? Who knew there was a "popular bazaar for anonymous narcotic' sales using an anonymity tool you may not be familiar with called Tor and some good old "cryptocurrency" called "Bitcoin". "Tor" is about as easy to download as it is to read this piece. And the self described "innovative payment network and a new kind of money" "Bitcoin" is as easy as clicking on a link.
It gets worse... or better, depending on your own opinion of privacy. Do we want it? Or not? And what about the bad guys?
While there are plenty of people who aren't committing any crime at all other than being tech savvy and wanting a little privacy nowadays... there is a potential electronic bad dream happening at the same time where real bad people can hide. I think we all agree that child pornographers, assassins, and anyone selling a good old nuke just aren't the kind of people we want to have a place to hide? As things stand today with the FBI, NSA , and the DEA spending some serious tax dollars trying to crack it and one step seemingly behind some very very bad intentions and people... well, you just have to shake your head with concern and bewilderment that the "deep web" was created by the U.S. military. We created it. I'm sure we had to. But now the fox is in the electronic virtual henhouse.
"Dark web." Deep web" Lots of places to hide?
Talk about unintended consequences? So what's a web user to do who just loved the promise of a little privacy on the internet? How many people looked at Facebook as the bridge to the real you? The real real you. Where you go. Where you are. What you buy. Who your friends are. Remember the old commercial that asked, "It's 10 PM. Do You Know Where Your Children Are?" Indeed we do now and you don't even have to have security clearance for classified information or work at the Pentagon. No detective necessary.
That's not because of Facebook. Although if you want, you sure can volunteer it there. Our smartphones follow us everywhere.
Personally, I'm a bit of a Fourth Amendment nut. And that amendment is hurting. Arbitrary invasions of our privacy are there for the taking. And there are plenty of takers. But now we got "bitcoins," which in essence compromise trust in banks and government. Digital currency. From your digital wallet to whoever you choose. It's virtually anonymous and I have not been able to find a single case of counterfeiting yet? I'm sure that's coming. When money isn't traceable, it's both attractive and won't be leading us anywhere good anytime soon.
Since June 5 when the Edward Snowden leaks began and regular old internet users like you and me, who vote for elected officials, paid more attention, well... that basically leaves the topic of electronic surveillance and the antiquated laws that can not keep pace politically explosive. As the Time magazine cover story point outs, "Tor itself is left in a curious position of being funded by some parts of the federal government (including the State Department and the Department of Defense) while others (FBI and NSA) are trying to crack it."
That's enough to make your head spin in trying to determine where you draw the line to the pipeline that goes right into your bedroom.