The Dark Web is Not Just for Criminals.
You have probably heard about the darknet or dark web. Most of what you heard is probably from a television show or popular culture. These tend to accentuate the criminal activities that go on in the darknet, but rarely highlight how it has helped news media or even students with academic research. All in all, the darknet has provides positive benefits to many groups other than criminals, terrorists, and drug dealers.
To be clear, we are not saying the dark web is a safe place, because it is not. There’s no short of criminal forums or malware marketplaces. Just like regular people use it to complete search free ads or a news agency uses it to collect information, there are also criminals who take advantage of the technology. So always remain vigilant if you are using the dark web.
Six Ways the Dark Web Serves the Public
So, there is no shortage of criminal activity on the dark net, but there are also some websites and uses that serve the public interest. These often do not get mentioned enough anytime the dark web is discussed. Here are six ways the dark web serves the public.
- A major component of the darknet is free and accurate information. ProPublica is an investigative-journalism company that specializes in issues of public interest. They operate primarily on the dark web. Since they host on the dark web, many people around the world can access their information. So, for people in countries where the media is censored, ProPublica is a great resource to get accurate and uncensored information. The journalism company was recognized for its work in 2010 when it won the Pulitzer Prize.
- The CIA. The United States’ intelligence agency built a presence on the dark web in recent years to encourage collaboration with anonymous sources. Using an onion site, the intelligence agency asks informants to provide any information they can regarding terrorist plots. The site also guarantees the protection of all information, including your identity.
- Academic Research. While the process students use to access research on the dark web is illegal to intellectual property laws, many students use it to find scientific sources. We recommend sticking to the legal methods of accessing academic research. However, the movement to demonetize academic research inspired the first freestanding research journal on the dark web. Time will tell how successful the journal will do, but they want and desire for free academic research is alive and thriving because of the darknet.
- News agencies are turning to the dark web to communicate with sources and whistleblowers. One website, called SourceDrop, allows journalists to communicate with anonymous sources. Plus, when a source submits a tip, the website deletes the IP address protecting their identity. Big news agencies like the New York Times, Washington Post, and Vice Media are using SecureDrop more and more.
- The dark web can also be about fun. There several websites that let people from around the world play each other in Chess. It is also completely free. Many of these sites also let players talk about strategies or play styles in various forums. Best of all, it is all anonymous, so your identity stays safe.
- IIT Tunnels. A student hosts a darknet website where he explored and mapped the secret tunnels at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. While he violated some trespassing laws, the website exists as another example of the dark web hosting pure and unharmful fun. Thousands of users spend time making up conspiracy theories or explanations for the tunnels. This is simple, wholesome, and tame entertainment on the dark web.
The Darknet Is Not All Criminals and the Black Market.
Popular culture makes the darknet to be evil. It often depicts it as this stomping ground for the worst of the worst in our societies. However, the truth illustrates that the darknet serves, in some cases, for the betterment of the public interest. Whether it be anonymous tips, free and accurate information, or a game of chess, everything on the dark web is not evil.
While we recommend avoiding the darknet and leaving it to the threat intelligence agents at the CIA, we want you to recognize that it can serve the public interest. Much like anything else, the darknet is a tool that can be used to improve lives or for selfish and criminal activities.