The internet is a hotbed of controversy as of late. I first started taking notice during the SOPA crisis of 2012 which focused on shutting down websites that could take money away from big corporations (gosh wouldn’t that be just horrible). This issue has bubbled up to the surface again with legislation involving Net Neutrality, which is aimed at opening up “Fast Lanes” that benefit, you guessed it, big corporations. The United States Government seems to not get the message. The citizens of the United States, and the world do not want government intervention on the world wide web. Yet, they continue to do so, and by doing so they are doing their best to hinder free speech and open expression on the internet, or at least the internet most people are aware of. Increasingly, free speech instead takes place beneath the surface, on the Deep Web.
The Deep Web poses an interesting predicament. On one hand it is the model free internet. It uses Bitcoin, which decentralizes the monetary system and provides an anonymous way to conduct business, it is self relegating because nobody is in charge. However, it also puts a heavy emphasis on crime and illegal activities including Drug Markets and Child Pornography. This detracts from the true purpose of the Deep Web which is to support open communication without government interference but unfortunately the negatives of the Deep Web have brought the Government into the Deep Web.
If we as an internet community want to have true online privacy one of two things needs to happen.
- Continue through legal means
○ If we choose this option we need to hold back on our impulses, we need to stop pushing the limits on the deep web. We need to establish legitimate sites and change the overall image to one of free expression instead of a place for Child Porn, Drugs, and Human trafficking. Also, we need to vote in politicians that support Net Neutrality and similar legislation. Currently certain Democrats in the senate are working to rid fast lanes from the internet. Politicians that vote for legislation like this are more likely to support online privacy and equality in the future.
- Completely Detach from the Government
○ If we as a community choose this option we need to invest time, effort and money into improving protection and security. As it stands now when you use the Tor browser you resign yourself to having slow speeds and subpar content, this needs to change, mainly because it needs to attract a wider audience in order to further support it. More importantly the Deep Web community needs to enlist the support of Google and other large tech companies to provide their expertise to development.
While the Deep Web is the biggest supporter of a free, equal, and private internet its users may be helping the people that want to take it down. Its image promotes crime, which has to change no matter what. Bitcoin is heavily involved in the Deep Web, supporters of Bitcoin also need to realize that if they want Bitcoin and the Deep Web to be legitimized by the majority of the public they have to do legitimate things; start websites such as News and Social Media, create a better GUI, remove the crime from the forefront, and try to gain support from major tech companies.
As it stands right now most of the websites on the Deep Web are either not useful to the common clearnet user, or foster illegality, by adding websites that serve the same purposes as those on the clearnet we can appeal to wider audience. The importance of a good GUI (Graphic User Interface) is subtle, but most importantly it will give these Deep Websites an edge on return customers. The average American that knows what the Deep Web is, associates it with crime, I don’t think I need to explain why this is bad, while I’m not saying we need to get rid of it, because the purpose of the Deep Web is to provide a place free of restriction, I just think the Deep Web community should try to make its image more of a place to discuss and browse free of prying eyes. If we can complete the tasks above we can hopefully draw the attention of big tech which will further add improvements. Hopefully we can harness its potential in the future to create an open and free internet.