In the wake of the San Bernardino shooting and the government controversies surrounding ethics in technological privacy, our web privacy – or its lack thereof – is under the spotlight. Sure, the public has heard of recent government surveillance in our social media and they are furious over this breach of privacy.
But, wait. Before you all make assumptions and protest over FBI’s recent actions and its secretive espionage, I should probably bring a particular part of the internet to your knowledge. It’s called the “deep web,” and it has something to do with this situation than you would think. Ironically, though, it also does not.
It might come as a surprise to you (or it may not) that the internet we have come to know today is only a deceptive façade of what it really is; it’s a tip of the iceberg. Simply put, the deep web is essentially the rest of the internet. Its contents are not accessible by internet search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, and etcetera. Furthermore, surfing in the deep web utilizes Tor network, which essentially is an anonymity network that lets any of its user's surf without government surveillance – not because the government chooses to be lazy, but because it is literally hard to track users in this network. Deep web sites may be encrypted or require passwords to access had they been encountered by the normal web, but this does not mean that they are different than normal websites. In fact, with enough craft and experience in keeping anonymity, it is very easy to hack social media accounts through this medium (Remember? Your accounts are only password-protected).
Unfortunately, mischievous acts done in the deep web do not end there. In addition to hacking social media accounts, ill-motivated users have used and still use this medium to hack security cameras, steal credit card information, and even hire hit-men to commit criminal activity. The deep web is also the hub for terrorists and terrorist groups to communicate with each other, for international mafias to sell illegal drugs on an international scale, and for human traffickers to sell their human “goods”. It is also home to many redrooms – a.k.a. recorded crimes of murder and torture – which are the notorious characteristic of horror/thriller movies, but in real life. These are the underlying happenings on the internet, and to think that they are merely several clicks away from affecting innocent people’s lives is extremely unnerving.
So, what does this have to do with the government? Well, as you may have guessed, the mastermind organization behind this ability for humans to explore beyond the known internet frontier is the United States Navy. This was one of the government’s first-ever programmed loopholes to access the internet in its entirety, undetected. Today, as the world watches FBI’s every action about the San Bernardino shootings, the government has yet again produced another loophole to access offline data in private devices. What I find particularly ironic in the midst of all these privacy breaches is the fact that the government still cannot control its first online loophole – murderers, pedophiles, and hackers roam about freely in the deep web, and most of them are not caught. Also, you really can’t do anything to stop this; if you download the software to access the deep web, and you surf the deep web without much caution, you are susceptible to digitally disclosing all that you own dearly. Let’s all thank the government for creating this privacy loophole and making it available for the potentially-evil world to use (not).
Now that you are knowledgeable about this subject matter, you may resume expressing your disappointment in the government as you will. Nevertheless, the internet is terrifying. Be safe out there!