Friday, May 8, 2015

The Deep Web, a Controversial Puzzle

Modified from Image Source
It was recently estimated from the New York Times that the deep web is roughly thousands of times larger than the surface web and is currently expanding at an exponential rate,is roughly doubling in size every two to three years. The Deep Web, also known as the Dark Web, and the Darknet, is considered by many people throughout the world to be an online criminal haven filled with drugs, hitmen, and other illegal items and services which in no way can help the world with its anonymous and untraceable users. I am confident to say that I disagree. The Deep Web has value. Even though bad and illegal things can happen on the Deep Web, it can be used such that users benefit from anonymity and can voice their opinions and other thoughts without any fear of prosecution. This has been proven true in many countries ranging from Africa to Asia and also the Middle East.

Why does the Deep Web have such a bad reputation? It can be looked at in many different ways. You could say that the technology that makes it anonymous is its greatest strength, but because of the negative ways that it can be used, anonymity is also its greatest weakness. There are many things that happen on the Deep Web that make it look bad in the eyes of the public, including online drug trafficking, forged money and documents (ie. passports,id’s,etc.), Guns explosives, organs, hired killers, and pretty much anything else that can be considered illegal. If someone wants to buy something from a website on the Deep Web, that website will most likely not use an easily trackable payment method such as a credit card, but is far more likely to use an anonymous online currencies, like Bitcoin. This “cryptocurrency” allows its users to spend it without ever giving away their identities in the purchase so it can't be tracked, and also tor which is the completely anonymous search browser which filters all your searches through many computers around the world so your location can't be tracked.Basically if there is a market for an item that is illegal there will be some way on the Deep Web where you can purchase it or get it through other means.

The next stage in our journey into how the Deep Web can help people is how it can actually aid people in their quest for anonymity.In spite of the criminal aspect of the deep web, it has been shown as a positive thing in other parts of the world. For example, in emerging countries, or countries where citizens are censored by their governments, the deep web offers a way to communicate with the outside world. This has been shown to help in emerging countries, or countries that are being censored by their government and need to get information out on the situation there. This tactic by people and companies has been shown to be successful before by The New Yorker newspaper or even the United States Military. People are able to send in tips to The New Yorker about what really is happening in places, and the military uses it for secure and anonymous connections for their internet and also for people tipping them off if somethings going to happen.

Tor and the Deep Web are also beneficial in many other ways, in a recent study by Pew Research Center it was found that “[s]ix in ten adults feel as though they ‘would like to do more’ to protect the privacy of their personal information online.” This included using fake names or screen names like a nickname online which isn't your real name like an online alter-ego), and also fake information like fake phone numbers, email addresses, etc. Taking these steps can increase people’s online privacy, but by also doing it on a completely anonymous search engine like Tor, it adds a layer of security and privacy. Tor gives no location information or your Internet Protocol (IP) address (a unique string of numbers which identifies each and every computer on the internet which can be used to track you), which is helpful to a citizen who cares about his or her online anonymity. By having the Deep Web it also gives people a sort of online ‘alter-ego’(as talked about above) where they can say and do whatever they want to without fear of prosecution from their government.

Many people are concerned about their privacy online, as evidenced in recent research statistics stating that 66% of people tested believe that the online security and privacy laws are not good enough with the constantly expanding technological industry. These laws need to be amended to account for more recent trends in technology so it is up to date. These trends also have to do with the recent popularity in the Deep Web with Identity theft and selling these stolen identities online. In another study and survey it was found that young adults ranging from the ages of eighteen through twenty-nine are more likely to have their identities stolen in this way of not being blatant of who they are online and giving out information. This problem could have been avoided if they had used the Deep Web where almost everyone there is anonymous and the only way something like that could happen is if you voluntarily gave out information. The Deep Web’s power for good and also bad is one of the main reasons why it is controversial and some people don't use it even though it can be effective in preserving your privacy. Overall I believe the ways people can use it to benefit far outweigh its negative connotations and controversy.

The Deep Web by definition is “the part of the World Wide Web that is not discoverable by means of standard search engines (aka. Google).” It is a place where good and bad things can happen. But so is the regular web, isn’t it? Internet anonymity is a very important subject, especially when talking about the Deep Web because it relates so closely to why the Deep Web is a place of good and not just evil and illegal activities. I am confident to say that the Deep Web is a place where users can benefit from this anonymity and can voice their opinions and other thoughts without any fear of prosecution even though there are some so called “rough edges” which can be fixed in time and with adaption with the Deep Web and the people who use it.



Conclusion, Updated[May,27,2015]

The Deep Web a part of the web where most normal internet users dare not to enter, it is a place that can be very controversial and for most people they consider to be bad, but for every bad side of something they're are also positives that can outweigh these negatives. This topic is very important to our class and our concept of digital citizenship with our constantly evolving age of technology and social media, but also for people who wish to be anonymous on the internet and to protect their identity and even benefit other groups of people by doing this. Over the course of this blog project it has taught me a few new things and also skills, also by doing this project i was able to see other peoples opinions on this topic of the deep web and how they can be interested in it and how it can be apart of people's lives also.Most of the comments that were given to me just helped me in solidifying my thinking that these positives outweigh the negatives, my opinion has not changed at all on the topic.Next, due to the comments and the constructive criticism i am now interested in ways that they can improve the deep web and its anonymity, i would also be more interested in the numbers of users it has.Overall, I have profusely enjoyed doing this blog project and putting something on the internet that relates so closely to our class digital citizenship and also all the people who use the internet and i would just like to be thankful for that.

Thank You, BowdenE


  1. Hello, BowdenE! I appreciate your discussion of the good and bad aspects of anonymity that are characteristic of the deep web. Another good point of the deep web that deserves to be mentioned is the wealth of quality information contained in databases and academic sites that are not readily searchable by Google, Yahoo, and so on. There is a helpful, although rather simplistic infographic published by CNN that shows what content we are missing when we search. At the risk of sounding "preachy," this deeper level of databases is why we encourage students to use them for research. Has your awareness (from working on this project) of the need for more privacy changed your view of the deep web? Thanks for a very thought-provoking article!--Ms. Riches

  2. Fascinating. It's kind of like dark matter in the universe: there's something invisible out there that we can only recognize when it affects the matter we can see.

  3. What's up, BowdenE? You did a quite a nice job writing this article. Besides the fact that the Deep Web really intrigues me, I like your article because it shows an opinion that you don't see very often. Most people would say that the Deep Web is a downright dreadful place infested with evil crooks and other nasty stuff. You, on the other hand, provided an opposing opinion that made things interesting. As you may have seen in my blog post on the Bitcoin, I do not like the Deep Web. If you read this article on the Silk Road Trial, you can see one of the most concerning crimes that occurred because of the Deep Web. Nice job, once again. I really connected with your topic, because it has so much to do with my Bitcoin post. Cheers!

    1. Hello Kattikes, Thanks for the comment and the compliments.I agree with you that the Deep Web can be a horrible place, but mostly it depends in which way your looking at it.I also enjoyed the article you linked which has to do with my topic and also yours. The Deep Web even though it can be controversial is still very beneficial to people in the right situations and the right place, Overall thanks for the comment, and good luck with your topic.

  4. Hello BowdenE, I love the way you compared the positives and negatives of the deep web. I totally agree with you that although the deep web may be used for illegal activities, there is always a good side to everything. Based on this blog, I understand that you're not condoning deep web activities, but you're also advocating for more freedom on the internet without fear of prosecution. I find this article very controversial and I'm very interested in your opinion of this topic, just the same as Kattikes. This may be a helpful article on the Silk Road which could help you if you want to furthur develop this article. Good job and keep up the good work BowdenE.

    1. Hello Jonathan Pelster, Thanks for the comment and the compliments. I agree that the Deep Web is a very controversial topic and is a great tool for people who advocate for more internet freedoms. Thanks for the link to the website although in my eyes it really dosen't relate or help much at all.Overall thanks for the comment and good luck with your topic.

  5. Hello BowdenE,
    Interesting topic! Prior to reading your blog, I did not know anything about the deep web. You did a very good job at explaining what the deep web is, and now I feel like I have a better understanding. You also did a very good job at showing the many different viewpoints people have on this topic. I agree that people should not be afraid of getting in trouble when using the internet, but I am also worried that anonymity could possible encourage people to be mean to others online. Do you think that people could use this anonymity for bullying? I found this article about cyberbullying and how anonymity can promote it. I found your blog very interesting because I have not heard much about. Good work!

    1. Hello Dr.Ew, Thanks for the comment and the compliments. I agree that the Deep Web is a controversial topic and i'm glad you learned something about it. I agree that there are pros and cons to everything including this anonymity that the deep web gives you, you bring up a good point that people could use this for bullying, but i really don't see this as being an issue because that sort of defeats the purpose of the anonymity of it and people there do not know who you really are. Also thanks for the article. Overall thanks for the comment and good luck with your topic.

  6. BowdenE, like many other commenters here, I find your perspective on the Deep Web intriguing because it is not often considered a good place. However, your argument about the benefits of anonymity (and by extension, the preservation of your privacy) are compelling. Do you have any specific examples of positive use of the Deep Web? Unfortunately, the only stories that make headlines are the ones about criminal activity. The article you reference about the New Yorker and the military using "strong boxes" to collect information from whistleblowers or to set up secure command centers sounds fascinating. But how easy is it to find that stuff? The same article also says, "Like a demilitarized zone or a lawless land, it’s not a place most people visit—nor should they." So I'm curious how the average person goes about exploring the Deep Web with good intentions. This website on Tor metrics posits that over 350,000 Americans use Tor daily. (there are some other cool stats there, too) What are MOST people who visit it doing on the Deep Web?

  7. Hi BowdenE! I really enjoyed you point of view on this topic. I had never heard about the deep web until this article and I love reading about something new that is going on in my daily life! I totally agree with you on how there are postive and negative aspects of the deep web. Although I didn't find interesting article I found a picture that is better than an article that perfectly describes what you are talking about in the deep web. A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Anyways, there is little boxes in this picture that explain what it is trying to say. You should check it out!

  8. Hi BowdenE! I found your topic very interesting. I agree with you that Deep Web can be good or bad and like that you listed them separately. But in my opinion, Deep Web's benefits are really hard to be used. Here's a link to a notice posted by popular science about shutting down their comments. Trolls and spam bots can be found almost everywhere, and they are always a big problem for sites that allow people to post stuff anonymously. For myself, as a Chinese citizen, I used VPN to access servers that are censored by Chinese firewall, and sort of understand "the deep web offers a way to communicate with the outside world" Thanks again, for posting such a great article.

  9. Don’t go looking into stuff like that. The deep web can be fun but the DARK web is where you want to stay out of. I use the tor browser which is one of the most common, although don’t rely on ANYTHING to be completely anonymous because as you just have read, even the most experienced get caught,

    Tim Martine


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