Beneath the sea called internet, there lies a secretive network called Darknet accessible only through specific software, authorizations, and configurations. Non standard protocols and ports lead to darknet that intentionally hides itself from the searchable web. Special software veil such networks ensuring encryption and anonymity between users. Domains and protocols used by darknets are impossible to uncover by average webizens. Some of the most popular darknets are Freenet, I2P and Tor and the operation of each differs from the other. Apart from these a number of smaller peer-to-peer networks also exist that haven’t gained much reputation yet. Darknet is undoubtedly a haven for illegal & nasty activities as it shelters weapon dealers, perverts and sick content like child pornography, animal abuse videos etc. But the bigger problem lies in the approach of people. Human actions can turn a technology into a boon or curse and darknet has mostly fallen prey to the wrong approaches, earning reputation as the hub of dark activities. However, some judicious use of this clandestine network has also revealed the brighter facts about darknet.
1. Darknet grants an important right- “Free Speech”. Not all countries enjoy the right to speak freely without being censored or prosecuted. The Tor project has revealed that darknets have protected dissidents in Lebanon and Arab Spring nations from political reprisal.
2. Darknets, specifically Tor and I2P, have also hosted blogs in countries with repressive governments that oppose exchange of ideas and free communication.
3. A hidden service of Tor allows whistle-blowers to communicate with reputed magazines securely and anonymously. Tor also offers secure email servers that let you send messages anonymously, without even revealing your location. SIGAINT and OnionMail are two such servers.
4. Hidden services are also used by some militaries to develop online secure command and control centers.
5. Darknet is the home to a variety of services for spreading critical information. It harbors libraries full of political literature, file-sharing and secure messaging tools, anonymous boards focused on intelligent debate and many more.
6. Some hidden servers also sell legal goods like apparels while some are simply someone’s personal blog or play music.
7. Darknets also offer hidden sites like Jotunbane’s Reading Club and The Tor Library where one can read banned books without purchasing them.
Finding these hidden networks is almost impossible, until someone associated with the same guides through the procedure of entering a darknet. Technology can spread its wings to unimaginable extents, invading bright as well as dark arenas, depending on where we direct it. There are organizations which exploit its potential to achieve nasty deals whereas others help in making the lives better by delivering revolutionary services. It’s us who decide its course of action and it’s us who bear the consequences too.