“Google is the most accurate browser available on the Net. You can find anything by surfing on it”. Well, that’s absolutely false! Actually Google can only search up to 0.3% of the digital Web, and that’s also because the Web we commonly use – called the surface Web – constitutes only about 4% of the whole web. The remaining 96% is represented by the deep Web – the web that is untraceable by search engines and normal users – which includes also the dark Web, aptly named for its hosting of illegal content and activities.
Simply put, what keeps the deep Web alive is Tor (acronym for The onion Router) free software – originally created in the 1990s by the US intelligence –, which guarantees complete anonimity when surfing. Tor, in turn, relies on what is called the Onion routing, a computer system which encrypts messages in layers, like those of an onion, hence its name.
As you can see, the Deep Web is perfect for privacy-conscious users. Privacy on-line is far from being the great obsession of our digital era. Have you ever asked yourself where those commercial ads and pop ups come from? Who even asked for them? Computers contain images and information about our lives that can be visualized by governments and many companies without our agreement. Nothing to hide, nothing to fear? Think again. Personal information can be used to change or even destroy your life, and privacy is not guaranteed at all, especially on social media. Is an observed life a free life?
The Ross Ulbricht case is a good example of how the deep Web works. Ross Ulbricht was the founder of Silk road, a deep web site which used to act as an underground exchange market for many kind of goods. This was also the first large scale anonymous online community and online market system based on customers’ reviews. Are certifications from your government safer or more trusted than 100,000 customers’ reviews? I don’t think so.
Unfortunately Ross Ulbricht’s project took a turn for the worse…but that’s another story.
The deep web means freedom in addition to… financial security! Take Bitcoin for instance. Bitcoin is an unregulated currency system, in fact, new digital money, used for any transaction not only on Silk road but on the deep Web in general. It’s not under the control of banks and governments and is not based on trust like modern bank systems. Not at all, it is based on pure mathematical numbers: codes and algorithms. For each transaction there are digits. Try to undermine that, it’s quite impossible. No matter how powerful your army is, it will be useless if you’re incapable of getting to the bottom of that mathematical issue!
The deep Web is being demonized by media right now because of the dodgy businesses it hosts, like arms trafficking, drug trade…Well, so what? Anyone could commit any kind of atrocity with a hammer or a chainsaw! I mean, any digital crime committed nowadays already existed before the web was invented and anyway, crimes just make up a small part of the deep Web.
The deep Web is, for example, the only way for many journalists working under dictatorial censorship to communicate with the rest of the world. This is the case of many middle eastern countries where people have found a way to speak out via the deep web and denounce their condition.
The Deep web is not all about shady dealings and it’s simply unfair to dismiss the whole thing as a criminal project. Did you know that academic, governative and universities archives represent the biggest part of it? So, it is a source of knowledge as well.
As I see it, the deep Web has set us free and has shown once more that “people have the power”.