While the mainstream media has pretty much killed the reputation of the dark web, it’s actually not just a place to buy drugs, sex, and hitmen. There are a number of legitimate uses for the dark web, and although the majority of users do indeed use it for illegitimate/criminal purposes, as governments erode our privacy and it becomes harder and harder to protect your personal information online, my gut feeling is that more and more people will turn to using the dark web as a means of improving security/privacy.
The dark web basically consists of websites that purposely don’t want to be seen by popular search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, and so on. In fact, they so don’t want to be seen that they limit accessibility, and generally speaking, only people who use TOR (or similar) to browse anonymously are able to access it. TOR is basically software that (from an observers point of view) bounces your location around the globe, across the networks of a huge number of volunteers – this way, governments and authorities can’t properly track who is browsing what sites.
But it’s not only people who want to break laws who might want to use TOR to protect their privacy whilst browsing the dark web. Here’s a quick list of legitimate uses for the Dark Web that you may not have considered.
Dissidents in Authoritarian Regimes
While this kind of activity is technically illegal in many countries, those of us living in the free world can surely get on board with this kind of usage of the Dark Web. By making their websites difficult to find and making its users anonymous, the Dark Web and TOR can help dissidents communicate and organize and decrease the chances that they get shut down and thrown in jail or executed. Surely that’s a good thing.
Weird but not Immoral Books/Writing
There a huge number of book clubs on the Dark Web, where people get together to read controversial works. For example, someone might want to read Lolita – just out of interest – but having a record online of reading Lolita could be troublesome for a lot of people. The Dark Web gives people a opportunity to read controversial works without fearing that others will find out, which could lead to misunderstandings. The same applies to writing – there are plenty of people who like writing erotic fan fiction, for whom anonymity is extremely important. The Dark Web gives these people the privacy they need to pursue their creative ventures without having to worry about being exposed.
Plain Old Message Boards
Don’t forget that anything like the Dark Web starts off as a bunch of tech proficient nerds trying something new. Similar to IRC, and even social media sites like reddit or digg (when they first started), the first people to use any particular technology are typically tech savvy nerds. As such, you can still find a whole bunch of legit message boards, where nothing of particular interest happens, where nerds just talk about nerd stuff. Tech news, cryptocurrencies – everything like that, but nothing particularly objectionable or illegal. Also, one of the advantages of the Dark Web is that the style of web design is typically very basic (Because TOR can be quite slow). As such, message boards on the Dark Web are typically very straightforward, easy to use, and hassle free.
For more detailed information about the Dark Web, this subreddit is a great resource.