The dark web

The dark web is the hidden collective of internet sites only accessible by a specialized web browser. It is used for keeping internet activity anonymous and private, which can be helpful in both legal and illegal applications.

The history of the dark web is interesting. In the late 1990s, two research organizations in the US Department of Defense drove efforts to develop an anonymized and encrypted network that would protect the sensitive communications of US spies. This secret network would not be known or accessible to ordinary internet surfers

The Tor network or “The Onion Router”, lives on the fringe of the internet and serves as the underlying technology of the dark web—a collection of hidden sites inaccessible via a regular browser and not indexed by search engines such as Google. The Tor browser—a free download—is all you need to unlock this hidden corner of the web where privacy is paramount.

The 1960s to 1990s era highlighted a growing demand for both private Internet access away from the government eye and easy accessibility of any content that one desired. Tor was the answer to both these demands. 

In 2008, a Tor browser began to be developed, which would make Tor both easily accessible and user-friendly. Once the Tor browser was released, it was only a matter of time until more and more dark websites would begin to pop up.

Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency, without a central bank or single administrator, that can be sent from user to user on the peer-to-peer bitcoin network without the need for intermediaries. Bitcoins facilitate untraceable purchases on the dark web.

A cryptocurrency (or “crypto”) is a digital currency that can be used to buy goods and services but uses an online ledger with strong cryptography to secure online transactions. Much of the interest in these unregulated currencies is to trade for profit, with speculators at times driving prices skyward

Before cryptocurrency was invented, illegal transactions on the dark web were hard to complete, seeing as customers could potentially be located thousands of miles away and neither party wanted to risk using credit cards or PayPal for transactions because they leave paper trails. Bitcoin was released in 2009.

The future of the dark web is uncertain. As governments continue to crack down on its usage and illegal activity scares innocuous users away, we could potentially see major shifts in the dark web in the coming years. The online world changes so frequently that you cannot afford to get left behind or be left unprotected. 

The truth about the dark web

The truth about the dark web is that in addition to offering extreme privacy and protection from the surveillance of authoritarian governments, it facilitates a growing underground marketplace. This virtual place is a haven for sophisticated criminals that use it to traffic drugs, steal identities, supply child pornography, and other illicit products and services.

And with untraceable cryptocurrency as the primary means of payment, it makes it hard to track and trace them too. The dark web isn’t completely bad, illegal, or dangerous. Whistleblowers, journalists, activists, and law enforcement officers use it.

I was asked to cover a Year 9 lesson on Global Perspectives and to choose something that followed on from the “Impact of ICT”. I thus chose this topic. My Powerpoint slideshow for the lesson is embedded below. For more information, please contact me.

Perhaps far more interesting is the ability to program. Programmers are the people who shape the future. They create almost everything we use in this virtual world. It is the language of computers and all they do. It has become a basic requirement for acquiring many jobs these days


The dark web

Author: Piers Midwinter
I am an artist and a teacher. I am currently teaching at a Cambridge International School in Vietnam.