Going Underground: the secret world of the Deep Web

We can only see 10% of the internet, the rest is invisible “Deep Web”. Is this really full of drug dealers, pornography and hitmen?

 

What is “Deep Web”?

Let’s face it; the internet is vast. Type a phrase into Google (other search engines are available) – it tells you how many results link to that phrase. Even searching your own name can find tens of thousands of results (try it!)

However, what many people don’t know is that what we see is only the tip of the iceberg.

Only around 10% of the internet is “indexed”, which means search engines like Google and Bing can find it.

The other 90% of “hidden” content is the Deep Web.

The deep web has received a lot of negative press recently. Various articles focus on how it is full of dodgy illegal sites selling drugs, passports and weapons. As we’ll see, this isn’t providing the full story.

 

How does Deep Web work?

Deep Web: a laptop screen, password typed in

Password protected; most pages accessed via a password are part of the deep web

When we google something we’re actually searching an index. Think: a massive library of different web pages.

Stuff like your email inbox, online banking and website databases can’t be indexed. Anything which you go through a login page to access.

Deep web is more difficult to index as information is stored on databases, not specific web pages. Put simply: it’s hidden. With us so far?

So if most of the deep web is just harmless private material, why all the bad press? It’s all to do with people using it to become anonymous. It’s time to go underground;

Now you see me, now you don’t

Deep Web: a tracker puts her nose to the ground and sniffs

Using normal servers means your online activity can be tracked

When you visit a website using a regular browser you access the website data direct from that webpage.

This is quick, but your location and information you download is logged.

Meaning people (the government) can track where you are and what you look at. Creepy or what?

In the 1990s the US government developed a programme for anonymous file sharing.

They called it “Tor”, short for “The Onion Router” (we’ll explain the name, we promise).

 

This is how Tor accesses the deep web;

Scene from Goldeneye where Natalia tries to access deep web to reach Boris

Tor bounces your request from country to country; making it hard to trace

First you make a request to find a web page. The request to find the intended destination is wrapped in layers of encryption or code – like the skin of an onion. Onion layers, onion router – those computer guys sure had some wordplay skills.

Instead of going direct to the web page your request is bounced randomly across a network relay of computers all across the globe.

As your request arrives at a new location a level of encryption is unlocked. All the relay computer sees are instructions to send the request on to the next location.

In real world language; bouncing across different locations makes it near impossible to trace the user. Meaning you become anonymous. There’s even a version for smartphones. Ooooh, exciting.

Yes, using deep web to surf the web anonymously is legal. However, if you use it for illegal activity… well, go figure.

Is Deep Web the same as “Dark Web”?

Yes, and no. There’s a lot of confusion as “deep” and “dark” sound pretty similar, and lots of people use the terms interchangeably.

 

Screen shot of Deep Web site Silk road selling drugs, weapons and porn

Silk Road: the Amazon of the deep web.

The dark web is actually a section of the deep web. Dark web is used to describe a specific group of websites which use Tor encryption to hide their location.

Whilst dark web is part of the deep web, it is very different. Simples.

The most famous dark web site was Silk Road, described by the press as “Amazon for criminals”.

It was an anonymous online marketplace selling anything from illegal drugs to plastic explosive.

There’s even been reports of hitmen offering their services on the deep web. Mostly drugs though… or so we hear.

Deep Web: a gif of a cat in a pirate suit

If the deep web isn’t all drugs and porn… does this mean it’s all cat pictures?

Before it was closed by the authorities Silk Road users paid for their goods using an online currency called BitCoin. Rumoured to be the “next big thing” in the currency world, BitCoin also offers some anonymity if you’re clever with computers.

Is the majority of the web filled with pornography, hitmen and drugs? Not really. It’s been estimated that the dark web makes up only 0.01% of the internet.

So although 90% of the internet is deep web, only a tiny fraction of this is naughty sites like Silk Road.

Why all the fuss over people being anonymous?

With stories about spy agencies intercepting images from people’s webcams it’s no surprise that some of us want a little more privacy. Going anonymous can give us that.

Deep Web: activitists in guy fawkes masks protest against internet censorship

Activists use the deep web to spread their message

Despite creating Tor the US government now wants it shut down to stop criminals trading anonymously on the deep web. Oh, the irony.

Yet the dark web isn’t just used by criminals.

Activists and journalists working in China and other countries with strict censorship laws use Tor and deep web to spread their message.

Even Facebook got in on the act. It created a dark web version of the site for those living in countries like Syria and China which ban Facebook.

The website Wikileaks was set up by activist Julian Assange to expose government and corporate misconduct. It used deep web encryption so that whistleblowers could anonymously supply evidence.

The problem: though some see whistleblowers and activists as freedom fighters, others see them as lawbreakers.

Seems like this argument will continue going round in circles.

 

Deep Web learnings; the internet is not just for porn.

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Public Nudity; how stripping off can get you arrested

Tan lines are a nuisance. But going topless or partaking in public nudity can get you into some serious trouble.

 

Public Nudity = being naked in a public place.

Public Nudity - two girls and a guy stand nakedWe’re born naked. We get naked to wash. Some people sleep naked. Naked is not a big deal.

Except, it really is. Public nudity is offensive to many people. In the UK it’s not actually unlawful to get your bits out; but you can be arrested for “breaching the peace” if you are using getting nekkid to harass or scare someone.

So; walking naked in the hills or remote countryside is fine. Public nudity in a shopping centre or outside a school will get you arrested.

 

Is public nudity just for hippies and nature lovers?

Public Nudity - haters gonna hate

Naturism is not unlawful in the UK, but some people still find it offensive

The word “naturist” describes someone who engages in public nudity. This is not to be confused with a “naturalist” which is someone who studies nature. As far as we know, you can be both. Even at the same time.

Public nudity dates back centuries. Lots of cultures found clothes a bit of a drag. Spartans would exercise and compete in sporting events in the nude. In Japan going topless was accepted until the 19th century.

Today many countries have nude beaches. France is famed for its relaxed attitude towards public nudity; people regularly sunbathe topless. Germans are notorious for letting it all hang out in the sauna. This tradition dates back to Roman times however, so we can’t really lay that at Germany’s door.

Britain can seem a little more prudish. Despite having four million naturists in the country the Victorian attitude to nudity still prevails. However events like the Manchester Naked Cycle Ride celebrate nudity when hundreds of people cycle around the city naked. We’re not sure how this started but one thing is for sure; the saddle sore must kill.

Explore: the top naked festivals.

Public nudity has also been used as a method of getting news coverage. Activists and protesters often use their naked bodies to gain attention for their cause.

 

Why are we talking about this?

Public Nudity shown in a photo of Eleanor Hawkins in Malaysia

The photo which got Brit Eleanor Hawkins arrested

Eleanor Hawkins, a British traveller; has been arrested in Malaysia after stripping off at the top of a mountain.

Hawkins had climbed Mount Kinabalu with other travellers and decided to strip off for a celebratory photo. She and her fellow climbers have now been arrested on charges of public indecency.

To make matters worse; 18 mountaineers died on Mount Kinabalu six days after the photo, when a 5.9 magnitude earthquake hit. One Malaysia official has blamed Hawkins and the other travellers for offending mountain spirits. Mount Kinabalu is a world heritage site; and is considered a sacred site by those in the country.

Whether you agree with the idea that Hawkins’ nudity somehow caused the earthquake or not, she and the other travellers are in big trouble. We don’t know what she knew about the mountain’s sacred status or what the outcome of her trial will be. But this isn’t the only story about Brits getting naked abroad.

The party island of Magaluf has announced tough new laws where naked revellers can be charged up to £500. The crackdown on public nudity came after videos were released last year of Brits getting up to no good.

 

What people think?

Twitter reactions to the Eleanor Hawkins public nudity story

Reaction on twitter have been varied

What we learned; if getting naked, it’s never a good idea to take photos.

Public nudity; are British attitudes to public nudity to blame for the events in Magaluf and Malaysia? If we were more relaxed about it at home would people be less likely to get ‘em out abroad?

 

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