US government funds controversial Dark Web effort

The dark web is know as the go-to place online for anybody wanting to buy illicit goods. This hidden corner of the internet has an infamous reputation for hosting marketplaces that sell everything from guns and drugs to fake currency and forged ID documents.

But it turns out that the U/S/ government is also financing the main route in. CGTN’s Phil Lavelle explains

There are three layers to the web: the surface web is the most obvious one that we’re all familiar with. These are sites that are indexed – which means that they show up on searches via the likes of Yahoo, Google or DuckDuckGo. The second level is the deep web: again, sites we can all access but with specific addresses and login credentials. Think internet banking or medical records.

The dark web (or dark net) sits separately to that – it’s a collection of websites that are totally hidden to all except those who know what they’re looking for. You also need specialist software. The most common is a highly encrypted browser called Tor.

And for years, while the likes of the FBI have been trying (and, in many cases, succeeding) to close down lucrative dark web sites like the infamous Silk Road, their own Government has been paying for the browser’s development.

According to The Guardian, which went through the Tor Project’s tax filings, the company received some $1.2 million in 2015 (the most recent records available.)

That was down from two years earlier, when the figure hit $1.8 million. And all while the Department of Defense is bankrolling attempts to find weaknesses in the software, according to court reports.

So why would a Government be funding something that its own law enforcement is trying to penetrate?

“Originally, it was created by the U.S. Navy as a means for intelligence agencies to look at websites in different countries without being noticed and having their web traffic analyzed and watched. Many times, it would also be used for communicating with sources in those…

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