Darkfox: Access the Dark Web with Ease!

darkfox

NOTE: Darkfox will not help you access .clos, .rdos, .lll, or .loky domains. Those don’t exist!! It will help you access .onion, .I2P, and 127.0.0.1:8888 URIs.

by Ciphas

This may sound like an infomercial, but I swear it’s not.

Those of you who use darknets, in particular Tor, I2P, and Freenet, might have noticed that it can sometimes be inconvenient to have to run each one in a separate browser, or at least have to launch the programs separately.

Well, I found a program that makes it simpler to connect to any of these three networks with a simple command: it’s called Darkfox Launcher.

Its advantage is that it lets you access Tor, I2P, or Freenet without having to change your configurations every time. Plus, it’s very simple to use.

The GitHub page goes into a little more detail, but one of the most important questions it answers is: “How does Darkfox Launcher work?”

Here’s the answer: “Darkfox Launcher works by first changing the default profile of the Firefox Portable software and with that, changing the default network configuration. Once this phase is done, Darkfox will proceed by launching the Darknet proxy software to make the connection to the Darknet chosen by the user. When completed, Firefox Portable will boot to the default startpage of that specific Darknet.”

Darkfox is also a convenient way of quickly accessing one of these networks if, say, you need to contact someone through the network and don’t want to go through the process of installing, for example, I2P.

Included in its software package are these things: Firefox Portable Edition, and the proxy software from the Tor Project, the Invisible Internet Project (I2P), and the Freenet Project. If you’re unfamiliar with each of these, it might help to check them out individually first!

So what’s my opinion? I’ve been using it for a little while now, and while it does have a few bugs, I love it. (Besides, what software doesn’t have bugs, especially in the early stages?)

And you may have noticed that, since it’s on GitHub, Darkfox Launcher is also open source. To that end, if you want to fork it and contribute to the code, feel free.

Now, its downside is that it isn’t as secure as the actual Tor browser. So, if you’re doing some kind of hardcore whistleblowing, or engaging in illicit activities, I don’t recommend Darkfox for you. It’s still a work-in-progress, though, so future versions will probably have improved security features.

On a side note, this may just be nostalgia, but its UI reminds me of both the DOS command prompt and the Bash Unix shell. *Nerding out*

While it may not be about bells and whistles, I think Darkfox Launcher accomplishes its purpose well. For more information about it, check out the Darkfox Read Me: https://github.com/blacklight447/Darkfox-Launcher/blob/master/README.md.

If that’s not enough, take a look at its source code here: https://github.com/blacklight447/Darkfox-Launcher/blob/master/darkfox%20code

darkfox_sourcecode

Who knows? Perhaps in the future, it will have the ability to launch Tor and do your taxes.

How to Use I2P on Android Devices

by Ciphas

i2p_android

I’m well aware that not all “dark web” users prefer the Tor network (which I’ve mentioned in a few previous posts).

As I wrote about in How to Access the Dark Web with I2P!, I2P is one of the three most popular anonymity networks at the moment, next to Tor and Freenet. Out of those three, however, it’s arguably the most complicated to use.

That aside, if you already use it, and are interested in the Android app, it’s simple to download. Go to I2P – Android Apps on Google Play, and install it.

If you’re already familiar with using Tor on Android, then you may know the browser Orfox; download that first, from Google Play – Orfox.

device-2015-06-30-133152

As with the standard version of I2P, you need to configure your proxy settings to be able to connect to it on your mobile device.

Depending on which device you have, these may be in a different area, but this tutorial explains it quite well. (With the exception that the Orweb browser is outdated.)

To sum up – you’ll need to configure your proxy settings to 127.0.0.1 (localhost), port 4444 (HTTP). After this is finished, open the I2P app again and hold down the button that says “Long press to start I2P.”

i2p_longpress

Once you’ve started I2P, the app has to find peers on the network. This should only take a few minutes at most (depending on your connection, of course).

Finally, go to the “addresses” tab. There should be some default I2P sites (eepsites) listed there. You can add others if you wish. Actually, on my device, there was only one eepsite listed by default.

If you tap on the name of one of the eepsites, it may ask you which app you want to use to open it. Obviously, the tried and true Firefox is good. You can also use Orfox, as I mentioned.

Also, if you tap the “tunnels” tab, you’ll see which client tunnels and/or server tunnels are running. By default, some of the ones that run are the I2P HTTP/HTTPS Proxy, Irc2p, and smtp.postman.i2p (simple mail transfer protocol):

i2p_tunnels

You can, of course, customize it by adding your own client tunnels or server tunnels using the red “plus” button in the lower righthand corner (maybe that could be a subject for a future blog post…yesssss….).

Interestingly, the tutorial I referenced above recommends Lightning Web Browser, because it’s open-source and built for privacy, speed, and efficiency. It can also send traffic through Tor or I2P, and can be set to use DuckDuckGo or StartPage as its standard search engines. So give that one a try. If you’re curious about the source code, it’s here: GitHub: Lightning Browser.

Now, as for some other eepsites you can try out, here are some suggestions (but I haven’t vetted all of these, so some may not work):

https://sochi.i2p

https://speedie.i2p

https://sponge.i2p

https://nightfort.i2p

https://planet.i2p

https://oniichan.i2p

I hope that’s enough to get you started. Anyhow, have fun. I2P may not seem as “creepy” as Tor, but I would like to get a few more people to try it out, and maybe build more of a community on the network.

Enjoy your visit, friends!

A Darknet Dictionary (Work in Progress, with Links!)

darr5

by Ciphas

So, given that there seems to be a lot of confusion about certain terms connected with the darknet and/or dark web, I thought it might be useful to have a “darknet dictionary” here. I must give some credit for this idea to Deepdotweb.com, who featured a similar article at DeepDotWeb’s DarkNet Dictionary Project! This isn’t a carbon copy of theirs, but they inspired me.

Their darknet dictionary is an ongoing project, so I think I’ll do the same with mine. If anyone wants to suggest new entries (or corrections) in the comments, feel free! I just may add them.

NOTE: Some links below may be down.

2FA – Abbreviation for “two-factor authentication.” 2FA is a type of multi-factor authentication (MFA), i.e. a user is only granted access to a site after presenting multiple pieces of authentication. Although used on the clearnet as well, 2FA is used on many darknet markets (and other sites) to verify users’ identities.

Example: a username and password, plus a separate PIN or a security question.

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Active at Dark Markets? – A Tor hidden service set up by Dutch law enforcement to warn darknet market users that they are being tracked.

activedark.png

Ahmia.fi – A search engine that finds Tor hidden services and I2P eepsites. Also available on Tor at http://msydqstlz2kzerdg.onion/.

ahmia

Alienet – A VPN-based hidden network that offers messaging, mail, IRC, and hidden services. Not as well known as some other darknets, but it is real. Their site is at http://darknetproject.info on the clearnet, or https://unionsoe3yw6fxaq.onion on Tor.

alienet

AlphaBay – Currently one of the top darknet markets on the Tor network. Uses both multisig transactions and a traditional escrow system (depending on the vendor). Access it at this link: http://pwoah7foa6au2pul.onion/register.php?aff=41211

AlphaBay-Home-e1440639625779

AYW – All You’re Wiki [sic]. The Hidden Wiki with all CP links removed.

allyourewiki

Besa Mafia – A fake hitman service that (surprise, surprise) turned out to be a scam. Though a number of people paid to use their “services,” no one was ever hurt or killed. The admin of the site did escape with a number of people’s bitcoins, however.

besa

Bitcoin– A digital currency created by the mysterious “Satoshi Nakamoto” in 2009. Bitcoin incorporates encryption techniques to regulate the creation of new units, and to verify the transfer of funds. The smallest units of bitcoin are called “satoshis.”

bitcoins182way

Bitcoin billionaire yet?

Bitcoin Mixer – A service used to disguise the trail of bitcoins back to their original owner. Often used when buying and selling illicit goods on darknet markets. A few examples of bitcoin mixers are: BitCloak, Grams Helix, and BitBlender.

bitcloak

Blackbook – A former social network on the Tor network, modeled after Facebook. Used to be located at https://blkbook3fxhcsn3u.onion.

Blackbook

Black Market Reloaded (BMR) – A former darknet market on Tor, and one of the oldest, which is currently offline. Plans have been announced for it to restart.

black-market-reloaded-screenshot

Blockchain – A public ledger of all bitcoin transactions that have ever been executed. This applies to other cryptocurrencies as well.

blockchaininfo

BotDW – Boss of the deep web.

botdw

Candydoll – A term referring to non-nude photos of children in suggestive poses or sexy clothing. Softcore child pornography, more or less. (Also may refer to makeup kits that are designed for this style of photography.)

NOTE: The screenshot below is from one of the sites selling the makeup kits.

candydoll_makeup.png

Carding – The trafficking of credit cards, bank accounts, website accounts, and other financial or personal information. May or may not take place within larger darknet markets. Some vendors on the dark web specialize in this type of crime.

darknet_forum

Cheese Pizza – Another slang term for child pornography.

Cipherspace – The “hidden internet,” built on top of anonymity networks like Tor, I2P, Freenet, and others.

Clearnet – The “normal internet” accessible without special software or configurations. (e.g. Google, Bing, Facebook, Wikipedia, Twitter, Reddit, etc.) Also sometimes referred to as the “surface web” (though this term is wildly inaccurate and confusing.)

surface-web-anz-tech-anztech-pc-fix-in-manukau-computer-repair-in-penrose

Enough with the icebergs, already!

Cold storage – Keeping a reserve of bitcoins offline (e.g. on a USB drive or encrypted media) to prevent tampering or theft.

coldstorage_bitcoin

CP – An acronym for “child porn” or “child pornography.”

Cryptography – The art of writing and solving codes. With regard to the dark web, it is a means of encrypting data (messages, etc.) that you send over the network.

Daisy’s Destruction – An infamous film made by child pornography producer Peter Scully (see entry), through his company No Limits Fun. The film shows the sexualized torture and abuse of several young girls, one of whom is referred to as “Daisy.” However, the film has reached mythological status on the web, with the details and facts about it being blown out of proportion.

daisy

Darknet – An overlay network that requires specific software, configurations, or permission to access. Examples include: Tor, I2P, Freenet, GNUnet. Some of these networks (like Freenet) have both “darknet” and “opennet” modes, where you can choose whether to connect only to peers that you trust, or connect to anyone.

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Darknet Heroes League (DHL) – DHL is an escrow market comprised of old school vendors who were invited to sell there. Access it at http://darkheroesq46awl.onion.

dhlmarket

Darknet Market – A market hosted on an anonymity network (such as Tor) that often (but not always) deals in illicit goods. Popular purchases include drugs, drug paraphernalia (like pipes), firearms, hacked PayPal accounts, skimmed credit cards, counterfeit money, porn accounts, and fake official documents.

dream_market_drugs

Dark0de (a.k.a. Darkode) – A notorious hacking and cybercrime forum, originally hosted on the clearnet, which transitioned to the Tor network.

DarkodeKoS.png

Dark Mamba – A new “private military company” that claims to offer murder-for-hire services, run by the admin of the old Besa Mafia site. (i.e. another fake hitman site.) Located at https://darkmambawopntdk.onion.

dark-mamba

Dark Web – The part of the web that exists on darknets like Tor, I2P, Freenet, GNUnet, and other networks, and requires special software, configurations, or permission to access. The dark web is a small part of the deep web. The word “dark” does not refer to the content, but rather the fact that the networks are special access.

SIGAINT-attack

Dark Web News – A news site that reports on events that take place on the dark web. Also features bitcoin tutorials, links, and a comparison of darknet markets. Located at https://www.darkwebnews.com.

darkwebnews

DBAN – Darik’s Boot and Nuke – free erasure software that automatically deletes the contents of any hard drive it can detect, developed by Darik Horn.

dban11

Deep Web – The part of the web not indexed by traditional search engines, like Google. This term is often confused with “dark web,” but the two are not synonymous.

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Deepdotweb – A site that releases news, articles, and occasionally tutorials about the dark web (primarily Tor). They also keep an accurate, updated list of darknet markets that’s very reliable. Can be found at Deepdotweb.com or https://deepdot35wvmeyd5.onion.

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DisconnectA clearnet search engine that prevents other search engines from tracking your searches. It used to be the standard search engine on the Tor browser. Located at https://search.disconnect.me/.

disconnect_search

DNStats.netA site that monitors the status of various darknet markets and a few other sites on the Tor network. Located at https://dnstats.net/ on the clearnet, and https://dnstatstzgfcalax.onion/ on Tor.

dnstats

Doxing – The act of researching and posting someone’s personal information (e.g. phone number, address, full name) on the internet. Takes place on both the dark web and clearnet.

doxbin

Doxxters, The – A group who offers a doxing service for pay. Located at https://doxxtereufvckkiz.onion.

doxxters

Dream Market – Another top darknet market hosted on the Tor network, which uses a traditional escrow system. Access it at http://lchudifyeqm4ldjj.onion/?ai=1675.

dreammarket-drugs3

DuckDuckGo – Currently the standard search engine used on the Tor browser. Is popular with privacy-minded users. Located at https://duckduckgo.com/ on the clearnet, and https://3g2upl4pq6kufc4m.onion on Tor.

duckduckgo

Dump – The sharing of stolen data, such as usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, and bank account data. Also takes place on the clearnet, but is more infamous on networks like Tor.

dumpsad

Eepsite – The name for hidden services hosted on the I2P network. They end in the domain name .i2p.

eepsite

Freedom Hosting – A former Tor specialist web hosting service which, at its height in 2013, was the largest hosting service of its kind. Was the target of an attack by Anonymous, as well as a large law enforcement operation headed by the FBI. Has since been succeeded by another service dubbed “Freedom Hosting II.”

freedom_hosting

Freenet – A peer-to-peer network for censorship-resistant communication, touted as an alternative to other networks like Tor and I2P. It features anonymous messaging, email, social networking, and site hosting. A typical Freenet URI looks like this:

USK@MYLAnId-ZEyXhDGGbYOa1gOtkZZrFNTXjFl1dibLj9E,Xpu27DoAKKc8b0718E-ZteFrGqCYROe7
XBBJI57pB4M,AQACAAE/pyFreenetHg/31/

Download it at https://freenetproject.org/.

freenet_mainpage

Freesite – The name used for Freenet’s hidden services.

freenet_fms_setup

FullzIn carding terms, “fullz” refer to full database records of personally identifiable information. Such things might include names, addresses, phone numbers, bank account information, social security numbers, passwords, etc.

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Galaxy2 – A popular social network on Tor. It is a follow-up to the original Galaxy social network, created by “Lameth.” Located at https://w363zoq3ylux5rf5.onion.

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GNUnet – A free software framework for decentralized peer-to-peer networking. It includes P2P applications, such as chat, file sharing, and VPN.

gnunet_screenshot

Grams – A Tor-based search engine for darknet markets, which helps compare goods, prices, and vendors. Tor link: http://grams7enufi7jmdl.onion/

grams-black-market-search-engine

HANSA Market – A darknet market with a multisig escrow system. Tor link: http://hansamkt2rr6nfg3.onion/affiliate/110

hansa_market

Hard Candy – Slang term for an underage girl – roughly age 12-16, on both the dark web and clearnet. Also can refer to child pornography featuring girls of this age.

Harry71’s Onion Spider – A popular link repository on Tor. Is respectable because it’s updated daily, and the links are generally accurate and active. Tor link: skunksworkedp2cg.onion

harry71_onion

Helix Light – A bitcoin cleaner available from the developers of Grams. Tor link: http://grams7enufi7jmdl.onion/helix/light

helix_light

Hell – Infamous hacking forum formerly hosted on the Tor network, where users share hacking tips as well as stolen data. There is another site currently going by the same name, but it is actually a clone site made with a stolen private key from the original site.

Hidden Wiki – Name for a popular wiki on Tor that links to and describes some basic Tor hidden services (for noobs). The main one is located at http://zqktlwi4fecvo6ri.onion/wiki/index.php/Main_Page. There are several other sites that use the name Hidden Wiki as well, but this one is usually the site in question.

hiddenwiki2

Hitmen/Assassins – A service that’s supposedly easy to find on the dark web. All of the sites offering these services have turned out to be elaborate scams, but the myth continues to be perpetuated by creepypastas and rumors.

hitman_network

Hurtcore – Most extreme form of child pornography, involving such things as physical injury and rape, which can be found on the dark web. Avoid at all costs.

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Credit: allthingsvice.com

I2P – An overlay network and darknet that allows applications to send messages to each other anonymously and securely. Download it at https://geti2p.net/en/.

I2P_router_console_0.7.7

L33TER – A vendor shop started by L33Ter, vendor from most of the early darknet markets. Specializes in digital and physical products. Located at http://l33ter2w7q4bytfh.onion.

l33ter

LE – An abbreviation for “law enforcement.”

Litecoin – A peer-to-peer cryptocurrency that is based on bitcoin. Find out more at Litecoin – Open source P2P digital currency.

litecoin

Lux – Username of Matthew David Graham, convicted (and imprisoned) owner of child pornography sites PedoEmpire, Hurt 2 The Core, and Love 2 The Core (among others).

matthewdgraham

Mesh routing network – Networks made up of radio nodes arranged in a mesh topology. Examples include Netsukuku, GNUnet, Hyperboria, and CCNx. Many of these are still in beta mode and have not been officially released, but they have been advertised as alternatives to the traditional internet structure being used right now.

netsukuku

Multisig – An abbreviation for “multsignature.” The requirement for more than one key to authorize a bitcoin transaction.

multisig

Credit: deepdotweb.com

not Evil – The premier search engine on Tor. Was originally designed to look like a parody of Google. Located at https://hss3uro2hsxfogfq.onion.

notevil-chat

Onionland – A nickname for the Tor network.

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OpenBazaar – A decentralized peer-to-peer marketplace that sells a variety of goods for bitcoin and currently runs on the Tor network. Not a “darknet market,” per se, but uses a similar concept.

openbazaar

Operation Onymous – An international law enforcement operation targeting darknet markets and other Tor hidden services in 2014. Supposedly shut down over 400 sites (although many were clone sites).

xzfzwwhgrbpgguhzhkiu

Outlaw Market – Another of the top darknet markets on Tor. Sells drugs, digital goods, weapons, and other merchandise. Access it at http://outfor6jwcztwbpd.onion/indxx1.php.

outlaw.png

Pedo – A slang term on the dark web for “pedophile.” Refers not only to the people themselves, but related sites and materials. (e.g. PedoEmpire)

PedoFunding – A now-defunct website on Tor run by convicted freelance photographer Richard Huckle. Huckle has since been imprisoned, and received 22 consecutive life sentences.

PGP An encryption standard created by Phil Zimmermann in 1991. The initials stand for “Pretty Good Privacy.” PGP is frequently used to encrypt and decrypt messages on the dark web.

public-key

PlayPen – A large child pornography site that, in 2015, was seized by the FBI and used to catch pedophiles who were accessing the site. This has been one of the more controversial cases, as some have questioned the legality of the FBI’s actions.

Qubes – A security-focused operating system that aims to provide security by isolation. One of many distros that can help provide security and anonymity. Official site: https://www.qubes-os.org/

r3rc1-nalu-desktop-1

/r/darknetmarkets – A subreddit dedicated to information and discussions about darknet markets.

/r/deepweb – A subreddit dedicated to factual information about the deep web and dark web (as opposed to urban legends).

Red Room – A series of mythological sites on the dark web that supposedly feature live torture and murder (see “Shadow Web”). Entrance to these sites (in theory) requires bitcoin, as well as special credentials, such as a password given by an administrator. They are, more or less, an extension of the urban legend of “snuff films.”

All of the ones that have become public knowledge have turned out to be scams, yet many creepypastas and YouTube videos have continued to perpetuate the myth.

darkredroom

Scam/Scammer – In the context of the dark web, someone who purports to be selling certain goods or services, and doesn’t follow through, or misrepresents their intentions (e.g. a drug vendor who never delivers their goods, or a “financial service” designed for identity theft).

sheep-scam1

Credit: Deepdotweb.com 2013

Scream, Bitch! – A hurtcore forum on the Tor network. For those of you thinking of joining, registration is closed.

sb_darkweb

Scully, Peter – An infamous Australian pedophile and producer of child pornography, most notably the film Daisy’s Destruction, which has achieved internet notoriety. Scully had formed his own production company to make these films, called No Limits Fun.

peter_scully

Shadow Web – A fictitious part of the dark web perpetuated by creepypastas and YouTube videos. Supposedly features live torture and murder shows for those who pay the right price. A number of sites on Tor claim to offer access to the Shadow Web, but they are all scams. Here’s one example: Shadow Web Gateway 2.0

shadowweb_3

Silk Road – An online black market, considered to be the first modern darknet market. Launched by founder Ross Ulbricht in 2011, the site was shut down by feds in October 2013.

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Silk Road 3 – An escrow market that used to go by another name, but adopted the Silk Road brand. There has been much speculation as to whether or not the market will exit scam or will be taken down, but it is still currently running. Located at reloadedudjtjvxr.onion.

silkroad30_login

SSH – Stands for “secure shell.” SSH is a cryptographic network protocol for operating network services securely over an unsecured network. As with PGP, SSH uses public and private keys to authenticate users.

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Suicide Apartment – Members-only social network on Tor (which used to exist on the clearnet). It’s meant to be a site for people who are suicidal and want to find someone else to “leave the world with.” The only way to become a member is to receive a voucher from an existing member.

suicideapartment

Tails – A popular Debian-based live operating system that many dark web users install for extra protection. “Tails” is an acronym for “The amnesic incognito live system.”

tails_screenshot

TLA – An abbreviation for “three-letter agency.” Includes federal agencies such as the CIA, FBI, NRO, NSA, DEA, DHS, and others, who are looked upon with suspicion in the dark web.

hidden_site_seized.png

Tor – An anonymity network on which many “dark web” sites are hosted. The name “Tor” stands for “the onion router.” Frequently, people who say they’re on the “deep web” are referring to Tor. Download it at https://torproject.org.

tbb-screenshot3

TorBay – A Tor-based social network and forum which more or less replaced Blackbook.

torbay

Torch – A simple Tor search engine. Located at https://xmh5752oemp2sztk.onion

torch_search

Traderoute – A traditional and multisig escrow marketplace on Tor.

traderoute

Valhalla (Silkkitie) – Originally a Finnish-only darknet market, now available in English. Valhalla is invite-only, and offers both traditional escrow and multisig transactions, 2FA, and PGP. Requires a referral link to register as either a buyer or a vendor.

silkki

Vendor Shop – Smaller shops started by some of the major darknet market vendors, usually specializing in certain types of items. Examples: Mollyworld and MegaPack.

VPN (Virtual Private Network) – A private network which extends across a public network (internet). Many experts recommend using a VPN in addition to using Tor! (hint hint)

vpn10

Welcome to Dark Web Links and More! – Link list for Tor hidden services. Notable because they do not accept submissions of CP links, and also feature links to Usenet groups. Access it at https://jdpskjmgy6kk4urv.onion/links.html.

welcometodarkweblinks

Zion Market – A newer multisig darknet market without user wallets. Buyers have the option of selecting 2-of-2 (the server and vendor have the keys), or 2-of-3 (the buyer also has a key). Uses 2FA, automated PGP, and Bitmessage alerts. Access it at http://zionshopusn6nopy.onion/_reg23.

zionmarket

Zocalo – A former darknet market specializing in marijuana, hash, and various paraphernalia associated with it. Recently closed due to lack of business.

zocalo_market_weed

Zork – A 1980’s text-based RPG that is now playable on the Tor network (via the not Evil search engine).

zork

P.S. As I said above, this list is far from finished. So I’ll either add more entries in later, or do a part 2 to the post. Anyhow, hope you had fun, and feel free to add your suggestion

Interview: Eileen Ormsby, Author of Silk Road & All Things VICE

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Photo credit: Philip Gao Photography

I must say, it’s always interesting (and enlightening) to meet people who actually know their stuff when it comes to the dark web. Not long ago, on Twitter, I had that opportunity.

Eileen Ormsby, the Melbourne-based author of Silk Road and All Things VICE, was the perfect person to talk to regarding the ins and outs of the dark web in all its shady glory. According to her, her interest in the dark web emerged as a result of doing research for the Silk Road book, and eventually led to the creation of the blog.

9781742614090

Given that I, too, am aiming to find the truth about the dark web amongst all the disinformation, it seems that Ormsby and I have something in common.  We even touched on my “favorite” dark web myth, red rooms!

Secrets of the Dark: What were your initial experiences on the dark web? Did you use Tor or some other service?

Eileen Ormsby: Yes, started with Tor and, specifically, Silk Road. It was some time in 2011 when a friend who was using it showed it to me. Instant fascination!

silk-road-site (1)

The original Silk Road Marketplace

SoTD: You have interviewed a number of individuals who are involved in various aspects of the dark web. Which interviews did you find to be the most informative or interesting?

EO: Probably the most interesting for me was my interview with the administrators of Atlantis when they were trying to break Silk Road’s stranglehold on the darknet markets. They contacted me and asked for the interview – in fact, several times before I agreed to do it.  They’d been asking whether I would carry their paid advertising (no) and then were always sending me snippets of news to put on my blog. They sent me previews of their infamous Youtube commercial before it was put on. They were really marketing hard, desperate to get some sort of good publicity because Silk Road monopolised the market and their customers were a really strong, loyal fanbase. Nobody trusted Atlantis, even though they offered a smoother interface, lower commissions and better customer service.

Eventually I agreed I would interview them provided it would be real-time, candid and I would not make it positive if I didn’t feel it should be. I agreed to give them a hearing and be fair. It was all done over real-time encrypted chat (I think it was cryptocat, which is now defunct after being proven to be not that crypto after all!) [actually, it’s back up again! – ed.].

It lasted several hours and I did, indeed, feel it was candid. I think they were trying to make a better market, but it failed because of distrust among DNM users and loyalty to Silk Road.

Other than that, I interviewed or engaged with most of the staff of Silk Road from time to time, including [Dread Pirate Roberts] 1&2 and still remain in contact with several of them to this day – the difference being that I now know the real identities of many of them!  I was in constant email contact with Peter Nash, the Australian moderator, during his time in prison in the US and served as his communication to the outside. He gave me an awesome interview when he got out.

SoTD: What are some of the urban legends and dubious information that, in your experience, continue to pass around about the dark web? (e.g. hitmen services, red rooms, bizarre things for sale)

EO: The one that is most persistent is the myth of the “Red Room” – live streaming of torture/rape that ends in the murder of the victim and which people can pay to watch, or even bid to type in commands for the torturer to carry out (highest bid wins!).  People have this idea of Hostel with webcams exist[ing] all over the dark web, but you just need an invite to get into them.  It’s ridiculous.  They don’t exist.  They certainly wouldn’t exist on Tor.  But people are desperate to believe and they always come back with “You can’t prove they don’t exist, people are crazy, therefore they must exist.”  Picture my eyes rolling here.

I don’t think many people are taken in by the hitmen sites anymore, though the press loves playing up the fact that there are sites offering up hitman services. And of course, after the Ross Ulbricht trial, people kept pointing to his alleged attempts to have hits carried out as pointing to him trying to use ‘hitman sites,’ which wasn’t the case at all.

People are always asking where they can find markets for exotic animals. Obviously the illegal trade in exotic animals exists, and some communications and transactions may well take place over Tor, but there are no markets like the drug markets where you can go and look at a picture and then put a tiger or ocelot or something into your basket and buy it with bitcoin.

SoTD: Have you used networks other than Tor to explore the dark web? (e.g. I2P, Freenet, GNUnet, Netsukuku)  If so, how did the experience compare?

nerdageddon_updated

Nerdageddon on Freenet

EO: I used I2P and Freenet back in the beginning when I was researching the dark web in general, but they just weren’t as user-friendly as Tor and didn’t have the user base.

SoTD: What kind of research did you do when writing your book Silk Road (beyond just visiting the website itself)?  What did you discover in the process?

EO: In a lot of ways, I didn’t do any research at all.  I was in there from the early days, an active part of the community.  I spent part of pretty much every single day in there for two years.  I got involved in stuff.  I spoke to people, sometimes they came to me with their stories.  It was totally organic.

As well as the ground-level stuff, I got involved with a lot of the academics involved in researching cryptomarkets. Dr. Monica Barratt was one of the first – we’re still friends today – and she has probably done more rigorous academic analysis of the darknet markets than just about anyone in the world. Nicolas Cristin was another one who could be counted on for impartial analysis. There’s now a large circle of people involved in cryptomarket research and we have a very cool private forum where we share stuff.

SoTD: Have you found that you needed to increase your knowledge of internet security in order to research networks like Tor (i.e. to protect yourself and your identity)?

EO: Well, I’ve always hidden in plain sight.  Once I came out on Silk Road, I used the name OzFreelancer everywhere on the dark web. Everyone knew who I was. I always thought being up front about who I was to be the best way. Of course I have second logins for everything under different names, but they are usually for lurking rather than contributing.

The one thing I’ve found invaluable and that everyone – not just journos or DNM users but everyone – should take the time to learn is PGP. It is the one thing we can still count on.

SoTD: On your blog All Things VICE, you seem to get a lot of comments from the owner(s) of the Besa Mafia website; do you have any inside information as to what the truth is about the site? Is it a scam, honeypot, or what?

EO: LOL, yes I have inside information which I can’t go into detail about at the moment, but it will all come out at some point. Yes, they are a scam, but a very successful one – they have stooged a lot of people out of money.

besa_mafia

Besa Mafia’s website

SoTD: In spite of the negative attention that darknet markets have received, do you think that they have any positive aspects?

EO: The drug markets certainly do. They offer a safer alternative for people who are going to do drugs anyway. There is no possibility of any violence. The vast majority of the time a buyer knows exactly what they are getting, because of the feedback and rating system – if someone is selling 25i as acid or pipes as ecstasy, they will very quickly be called out for it and their ratings will plummet. That’s not the case in a nightclub, or even friends-of-friends, where you just blindly accept that pill, powder or tab is what the seller says it is.

SoTD: Have you explored some of the darknet markets that are still in business, such as Alphabay, Dream Market, Valhalla, Python Market, or Hansa Market? If yes, what was the experience like?

applemarket2

Apple Market

EO: Yes, all of them. And they are boring. Which is exactly what a market should be to stay in business. One of Ross Ulbricht’s biggest mistakes was being too damn interesting and developing a cult following. It really got up the nose of the TLAs and they threw a ridiculously disproportionate number of resources into tracking him down and prosecuting him. There’s been several markets far larger than Silk Road ever was, but law enforcement just don’t care (or at least don’t care enough) because they are quietly running as a commercial enterprise and don’t have any political or disruptive motivations. They certainly don’t have enigmatic leaders posting rousing calls to arms with devout followers drinking the Koolaid. None of us journos are writing about them much, so they are out of sight, out of mind for politicians.

I don’t mean to say that LE doesn’t still work on arresting DNM dealers and, where possible, closing the markets. It’s just that the political pressure to close them down is off.

Ulbricht_Passport

Ross Ulbricht, a.k.a. Dread Pirate Roberts

SoTD: There are many, many so-called “horror stories” that pass around about the dark web; do you have any of your own to share from your research?

EO: Haha, none! I did get bombarded by the owner of Besa Mafia (hitman site) after my article about them, with emails telling me he knows where I live and was sending people around to “beat and rape” me, but I was never really worried that he would go through with it. My partner on the other hand gets nervous about what I do sometimes.

Of course, there’s been disturbing things. I attended the court hearings of people involved in hurtcore sites. I heard and saw things that I need to put in little compartments of my brain that I lock away and rarely visit. But never any of the creepypasta stuff people love to boast about on Reddit.

SoTD: Do you think that Tor is still a good tool for journalists to use, or as a privacy tool for people living under repressive regimes? (e.g. North Korea, ISIL)

EO: Absolutely. Every journo should have a working knowledge of Tor, VPNs and PGP. Especially PGP.

SoTD: Given that darknets and other privacy tools are still being developed, do you think that something else may eventually replace Tor?

EO: Yes. I’m not clever enough to know what though.

SoTD: Answer this question once and for all: is it called the “deep web” or the “dark web”? Or are they two entirely different things?

EO: They are two different things. You know when you hear that stuff about the deep web being 500x larger than the surface web? That’s true (well, I don’t know the exact figure – nobody does – but it is massively larger). But that is all boring stuff, being anything that’s not indexed by search engines. So anything behind a paywall, or password protected, backend stuff for companies, etc. The dark web is a very small part of the deep web. Teeny tiny. It is just a media-friendly way of saying Hidden Services.
I have to admit, I hate seeing people use “deep web” when they mean “dark web.”

 

Me too, Eileen!  Me too.  Well, I encourage you to check out All Things VICE.

And next time you hear some crazy rumors about the dark web…check there first.

 

 

How to Access the Dark Web with I2P!

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What?  You mean there’s another way to access the dark web?  YES!

I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating – Tor is not the only way to access the so-called “dark web,” but it seems to be the most popular at the moment.  In fact, there are many ways to do so.  Oddly enough, many of the trending articles that discuss the dark web act as if Tor is the only way to reach it.

“Dark web” is essentially a metaphor for all the sites built on top of encrypted networks that require special software, configurations or permissions to access.  I must clarify this, however – Tor, I2P, and Freenet are completely separate networks.

On previous posts I’ve mentioned Freenet, but there are other options too, and I2P is one of them.  The reason that it probably doesn’t have the same reputation as Tor, or even Freenet for that matter, is that it’s a bit more complex to learn and use.  (At least that’s my guess).

So, downloading I2P is the easy part; just go to Download – I2P and install it!  The site offers packages for the following OS’s:

  • Windows
  • Mac OS X
  • GNU/Linux/BSD/Solaris
  • Debian/Ubuntu
  • Android

The tricky part, as you may have guessed, is the post-install work!  Courtesy of their homepage, I’ll offer the steps:

I2P_post-install-work

After running the installer on Windows, simply click on the “Start I2P” button which will bring up the router console, which has further instructions.

On Unix-like systems, I2P can be started as a service using the “i2prouter” script, located in the directory you selected for I2P. Changing to that directory in a console and issuing “sh i2prouter status” should tell you the router’s status. The arguments “start”, “stop” and “restart” control the service. The router console can be accessed at its usual location. For users on OpenSolaris and other systems for which the wrapper (i2psvc) is not supported, start the router with “sh runplain.sh” instead.

When installing for the first time, please remember to adjust your NAT/firewall if you can, bearing in mind the Internet-facing ports I2P uses, described here among other ports. If you have successfully opened your port to inbound TCP, also enable inbound TCP on the configuration page.

Also, please review and adjust the bandwidth settings on the configuration page, as the default settings of 96 KBps down / 40 KBps up are fairly slow.

If you want to reach eepsites via your browser, have a look on the browser proxy setup page for an easy howto.

Did that read like a foreign language to you?  Congratulations!  It did to me too, at first.  It may make more sense once you actually get into the process of setting it up…or not.

At first, I’ll admit I was somewhat intimidated by I2P, given that you couldn’t just install it and run it without a lot of configuration and forehand knowledge, but now that I’m more educated in that area, it’s kind of fun (believe it or not).  Or maybe it’s because I’m a nerd, I don’t know…

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If you find the homepage’s instructions a bit too technical, there are a number of other sites that “translate” the setup tutorial into a simple guide. Deepdotweb featured one of these guides in this post: Full guide: How to access I2P Sites & Use TheMarketplace.i2p

The Tin Hat also offers a great tutorial here: How To Use I2P | I2P Tutorial & Setup Guide.  Plus, they explain how the network works in layman’s terms!

the_tin_hat_I2P

Screenshot credit: thetinhat.com

Once you have the network up and running and you open it in a browser (e.g. Firefox), you should see a page like this:

I2P_router_console_0.7.7

Credit: 2009 Wikimedia Commons

As it says, that’s the I2P Router Console, and from that page you can configure just about everything about your connection, how much bandwidth you’re using, and what IP address your “identity” appears to be (not unlike Tor, actually)!

Let the Right One In

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I had to include at least one creepy image.

Now, I have to confess that the part where I got held up was when I tried to access actual I2P sites (known as “eepsites”).  I knew I was connected to the network, so that wasn’t the problem.

According to the official I2P FAQ, under the question explaining what eepsites are:

An eepsite is a website that is hosted anonymously – you can access it by setting your web browser’s HTTP proxy to use the web proxy (typically it listens on localhost port 4444), and browsing to the site.

I did this, but I was still unable to access a number of the eepsites (or at least the featured ones on the router console).  Therefore, my thought was that the sites themselves were down.

Either that, or my firewall settings were preventing me from accessing the sites – I plan on modifying those and giving this another try.  Of note: eepsites also tend to go down often (not unlike .onion sites), so that could also be the problem.

But Wait…There’s More!

I2PBote-inbox-0.4

Like its darknet cousin Freenet, I2P offers several main features:

Email/Messaging: I2P has a few different messaging services.  The main ones are a built-in email application and I2P-Bote, a secure messaging platform somewhat akin to Freenet’s FMS (Freenet Messaging System) application.

I2P-Bote is a P2P email service; there is no central server that stores your personal data. Email messages are stored in encrypted form on the computers of other I2P-Bote users, which is how it differs in its structure from standard email services.  No one with the ability to read your emails actually stores them on their servers.

If you check out the link above, it breaks down many of the security features of I2P-Bote, including its encryption method(s), and anonymity components.

I2P-Bote, as opposed to standard email services like Gmail or Outlook, uses cryptographic keys as destinations (i.e. randomly generated numbers and letters.)

sy10500b

This end-to-end encryption is the default with I2P-Bote.  Beyond that, I2P-Bote also sanitizes email headers, taking out any unimportant information, and encrypts what’s left (e.g. the subject line).

I don’t know about you folks, but I find that very reassuring!

IRC (Internet Relay Chat): Some of you are probably already familiar with IRC – it’s been around since the internet’s early days (1988, believe it or not)!  The difference with I2P is that it has an IRC service that allows users to chat anonymously.  Similar services exist on Tor, by the way.  I have yet to use the chat service, but I plan on doing so in the future (and perhaps writing a separate post about it).  According to The Tin Hat’s how-to guide:

“Often controversial topics are talked about in these channels, but nobody is afraid of offering what may be a very valid, but unpopular opinion, pushing you to explore new ideas from new perspectives.”

And I can’t help but be reminded of an episode of Numbers while reading that line where they said this:

numbers_irc

Uhh…no it isn’t.  But I digress.  If you do end up using I2P’s IRC, The Tin Hat recommends the chat rooms #salt and #i2p-chat, which you can connect to by setting your IRC client (such as X-Chat) to 127.0.0.1 on port 6668.  If you already have experience with this, feel free to give me some feedback on how it went!

Torrents: Oh my God, you can torrent over I2P?  Yes – in fact, some would say that gives it an advantage over Tor, which strongly advises against torrenting over their network.

I2P offers The Postman Tracker and I2PSnark.  The former is a lot like The Pirate Bay, and the latter is very similar to µTorrent.  Again, I have yet to try out this feature, but according to my research, the torrenting feature only provides more cover-traffic, which actually improves your anonymity (as opposed to Tor)!

I2P also gives the user an advantage in that they can use it as a proxy for clearnet torrents, like BitTorrent or µTorrent.  That way you’re less likely to get some ominous letter from the RIAA, or have others users spying on your torrents.  It’s not 100% foolproof, but I’d say it’s smarter.  

Beyond that, there is an I2P plugin for the Vuze torrent client called I2P Helper; if you intend to use I2P primarily for torrenting, then it works very well in this context.  I2P Helper allows you to download torrents from both the clearnet and the dark web simultaneously.  To boot, you can configure Vuze to use I2P by itself, or an already running external I2P router.

One of the positive things about using I2P for torrenting is that there is very little child pornography or other questionable material on the torrent trackers (despite claims to the contrary).  Rather, there are quite a few sci-fi books, programming books, leaked government documents, movies, and music.

Its downside, however, is speed, which on average is about 30KBps (compared to roughly 1-2 MB/s on most other torrenting sites).  The trade-off, of course, is the anonymity factor.  You’re much less likely to get discovered and sued by angry record labels and movie studios if you’re using I2P, as opposed to their “cousins” on the clearnet.  So the choice is yours.

Give Me Links!  Give Me Links!

09_Browse_to_Site

All right, you asked for it!  I haven’t vetted any of these links, so enter at your own risk. These links are courtesy of DCJTech.info: DarkWeb Link List.  I have to admit, they’re much easier to remember than most .onion addresses, aren’t they?

Directory (I2P)

File-Sharing and Torrents

Gaming

Messaging

Miscellaneous I2P Sites

OutProxies

Search Engines (I2P)

Shopping (I2P)

Social

Is that enough links to get you started?  Well, I hope you have fun checking them out.

As for me,  I do hope to explore I2P more in the near future; it seems perfectly suited to nerds like me!

With that…it’s off to the darknet again…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lost in the Dark Web? Me Too!

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by Secrets of the Dark

I recently read a couple of great posts on Illegally downloaded blog (by author Deku-shrub) regarding the nature of the so-called “deep web/dark web,” etc. – specifically, the ones in question are Internet writings about misunderstandings and Literally the best blog post ever.

In the former, he expresses his frustration over “unashamed use of ambiguous terminology when it comes to describing nebulous memes such as the so called ‘Deep Web’.”  In the latter, he describes how he “created the Wikipedia page for ‘Skunked terms’, a wonderful label…for words that have undergone a marked change from one user to another’ and ‘are likely to be the subject of dispute.'”

As I’ve explored networks like Tor, I2P, and Freenet more, I’ve started to become almost as frustrated with people throwing around such terms loosely (even on the dark web itself!).

It seems that what got the general public (who were previously unaware of the dark web) talking about this sort of thing was the 2013 shutdown of the Silk Road marketplace by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.  Prior to that, in 2011, Gawker published an article called The Underground Website Where You Can Buy Any Drug Imaginable, which created a lot of buzz around the Silk Road, and the Tor network in general:

silk-road-site

While I’m not denying that such things exist (they still do), I think it’s the misinformation that annoys me.  So personally, when I use the term “dark web,” I generally mean networks like Tor, I2P, Freenet, GNUnet, Retroshare, ZeroNet, and OneSwarm.  And when I use the term “deep web,” I generally mean sites that aren’t indexed by standard search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo!, and Ask.com.  As I mentioned in a previous post, Tor has its own search engines as well, such as Ahmia (clearnet URL) and not Evil

As the infographic up top explains, the dark web also includes alternative networks such as SIPRNet, JWICS, and NSAnet, used by the U.S. government to transmit top secret information.

Here are a few screenshots of the networks above:

Candle_Tor

Tor (Candle Search Engine)

i2p

I2P

pad_screenshot

ZeroNet

Screenshot-OneSwarm_2_-_Mozilla_Firefox

OneSwarm

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GNUnet

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RetroShare

Not so terrifying, are they?  I don’t claim to be an encyclopedic expert on the dark web (just yet), but I have explored several of these networks (Tor, I2P, and Freenet, specifically), and they aren’t always as scary as the horror stories make them out to be.  In fact, if you had the know-how, you could literally create your own darknet that was only meant to be accessible to a select few people.  That, too, would technically be part of the dark web.

So, then, what about all the “horror videos” like Top 15 TERRIFYING Deep Web FactsHorrifying Deep Web Stories “Why I Quit Hacking”, etc.?  Based on my personal experience, I’d say they contain some truths, some half-truths, and some flat-out lies.

For example, the Top 15 video mentions bitcoin as if it’s this “evil currency” only used for illegal goods.  It is used in many drug and gun sales on darknet markets, but like any currency, it’s not bad in and of itself.  This may seem like common sense, but the reason that bitcoin is used so much on darknet markets is that it’s harder to trace than something like a credit card (but not impossible).

In my personal experience – yes, the dark web does contain some disturbing things, but some of it is merely personal sites made by techies, or sites like Wikileaks, which you can also find on the clearnet.

I realize there are worse things out there, but it’s not hell on earth…or if it is, I haven’t been there yet.

1280px-The_Garden_of_Earthly_Delights_by_Bosch_High_Resolution

This is what the rest of the dark web looks like.

 

Interview: Arne Babenhauserheide of pyFreenet & Infocalypse

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I had the good fortune of “meeting” Arne Babenhauserheide (can you say his name three times fast?) on Google Plus recently…at least as closely as you can meet someone online.  (Yes, he’s the smiling guy above.)

He’s contributed code to The Freenet Project, a peer-to-peer anonymity platform originally designed by Ian Clarke.  I was curious about his background in coding and developing, what his connection to Freenet was, and his views on internet privacy, so we chatted over Google Plus, and went into detail about a few of these ideas.

By the way, I’ve linked to a few English posts on Arne’s blog, Zwillingssterns Weltenwald, if you’re interested in checking those out!

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How did you first discover Freenet?

Arne Babenhauserheide: I’m not sure.  My oldest communication archive is from 2007, when Freenet 0.7 was released with the friend-to-friend structure called “darknet”.  Plans for this had started in 2005, where Google trends shows the first spike of searches for “darknet”: Google Trends: “darknet”

I already used 0.5 – I remember being unhappy that many sites disappeared with the switch to 0.7 – but I can’t really put a date to that anymore.

I was active in the Gnutella community before discovering Freenet, so it’s likely that I learned about Freenet from other Gnutella users or developers.

I wrote my first article about Freenet in 2009, the first English article in 2010: Simple positive trust scheme threshholds

How do you think Freenet compares to other anonymity networks like Tor, I2P, and GNUnet in terms of privacy, usability, and functionality?

AB: Different from Tor and i2p – Freenet provides hosting without needing a server.  This means that you don’t need to be able to secure a webserver against arbitrary anonymous [sic] to be able to publish.

GNUnet is closest in purpose to Freenet.  The main difference is that Freenet developed its features together with users and following user demand.  At least two of its features were written following requests from users: the update mechanism for websites in Freenet and the Web of Trust to defend against spam.  The latter was developed because an earlier forum system which was easy to spam actually got spammed: People realized that anonymity without spam resistance means freedom to use spam bots to suppress all discussions they don’t like.

Different from GNUnet – Freenet provides anonymous equivalents to most things you find in the normal internet (We call the non-anonymous internet the “clearnet”).

You said you contributed some code to the Freenet Project.  What area of Freenet were you developing? (e.g. forums, links, etc.)

AB: I’m currently maintaining pyFreenet, which makes it easy to use Freenet from Python and which provides several tools, like an optimized commandline tool for managing websites in Freenet.

Also I’m maintaining Infocalypse, a plugin for versiontracking [sic] tool Mercurial which allows programming over Freenet, including pull-requests and getting the code from someone else by simply calling

hg clone freenet://USER/PROJECT

This functionality was created in Google Summer of Code 2011 by Steve (I was mentor for that project).  Steve is now the maintainer of Freenet.

Also I did some statistical calculations to optimize aspects of Freenet, and I talk to people. ☺ Last December I went to the privacy workshop from the EU Parliament as representative of the Freenet Project: STOA: Protecting online privacy by enhancing IT security and strengthening EU IT capabilities

Finally, I’m doing all kind[sic] of stuff I consider important.  My most recent work is finalizing the simulation for mitigating the Pitch Black Attack: Mitigate the Pitch Black attack (the simulation works).

There’s lots of stuff in Freenet which is partly done and just needs someone to put in a medium amount of work to make it actually usable.  Lots of low hanging fruit where putting in some effort can have a huge effect.

Is it recommended, in general, to have some familiarity with coding if you’re browsing darknets like Freenet?

AB: I don’t think so.  If you can browse the web, you can use most things in Freenet – thought you need some tolerance for web interfaces which look as if they were written in the last century.

Do any of the sites on the network disturb you? (Such as some of the ones on Linkageddon [the uncensored link list on Freenet])?

AB: There are some sites on Linkageddon where the descriptions hint at stuff which would disturb me.  I do not look at these because that’s the only way to get rid of stuff on Freenet: when no one accesses it, it gets replaced by new content.

If I could get rid of sites without killing censorship resistance – a central requirement for free speech and freedom of the press which is one of the core requirements of real democracy – there would be some sites I’d remove.  But I can’t give myself the ability to censor without giving it to everyone else.  And once everyone can censor (essentially decide for others what they are allowed to see), no one can speak anymore.  Would you invest in writing something useful when it when it could disappear at any moment just because someone you don’t even know does not like it? [Good point, AB!]

What gives me peace of mind is that this does not help large scale criminals or such: People who can launder money can already publish anonymously.  Some of these already own media cartels.  They don’t gain anything extra from Freenet.  Giving free publishing to everyone via Freenet levels the playing field.  And once money is involved, they make themselves traceable via normal police work, so this does not help organized crime.

Also I recently went afoul of someone by telling him that killing politicians does not help against injustice, because it gives those politicians an excuse to increase their powerbase.  It wasn’t long in that discussion that I was threatened that my websites would be destroyed.  Back then I deeply wished I had had this discussion in Freenet.

Anonymity helps those who are threatened with physical violence.  And if you have children you’ll really not want to have Neonazis, Islamists or Corporate Lawyers at your doorstep for ridiculing their lies.

So you decide to keep quiet and leave the digital space to aggressors.  And censorship takes hold.

Freenet helps me against this: In Freenet I can speak freely.

And for this, I have to grant all other people that same freedom.

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