Ambitious Decentralized Projects That Aim to Create a Better Internet

The Internet is an interesting place. It started out as a network intended for file-sharing and has turned into a storehouse of information. It is a dynamic and  profit making industry, and generates enormous revenue. While providing an open platform for free expression, it gives everyone a chance to reach out to thousands of people, at an extremely low cost. This makes the Internet the most powerful media of this age.
The Internet is governed by a set of standards, that bind it and prevent it from falling apart. Furthermore, there are services that have an expertise in certain domains (Google in search, Facebook in social networking). These direct and indirect controls limit the capabilities of the Internet and can be a cause of discontent at times. There are a lot of variables in an ideal Internet, but when we rely on these services solely, most of those variables are locked. Once a user gets on the Internet and puts his personal data, everyone wants a piece of the pie.  Both Facebook and Google use out browsing behavior and personal data to serve personalized ads, and it is extremely hard to make oneself tracking-free.  Governments ask for private user data all the time and demand user-generated content to be censored.

This, has brought the need for services that are not under the control of a central authority. Currently, there are three such ongoing projects, and if they succeed, they have a chance of changing the Internet and the world.

An Interview with an OpDarknet Anon

By now a good chunk of you all will know about OpDarknet. This is a new operation by the nebulous collective of Anonymous to purge the DarkNet, also known as the deep web, which is a microcosm of hidden networks that is unreachable by conventional web crawlers.

For this reason, the DarkNet is a treasure trove for those interested in illicit information and materials such as illegal drugs, arms and ammunition and child pornography (CP).

The fact that innocent children are being exploited to feed the urges of a number of perverse individuals did not sit well with Anonymous and thus #OpDarknet was born:-

On October 6th, 2011 some of us Anon were doing research into encryption and security.   The ‘darknet’ sites of TOR, I2P, and Freenode peaked our interest.   We were aware that, TOR and I2P where originally designed to protect individuals from the oppressive governments of China, Iran and protect Free Speech.

What we discovered was quite the opposite.   An growing and large of community of pedophiles was abusing such systems for personal profit.   To demonstrate this, The Hidden Wiki’s “hidden” section, the ‘Hard Candy’ is stated to be:

* This wiki page discusses resources specifically for people who are attracted to children. This can include everything from discussion groups to ostensibly legal images of children in dresses to full-out child pornography. The term children here refers to children and teenagers.

To explain how popular this community of pedophiles is.   The total page views of the Hidden   Wiki ‘Hard Candy’ section as of October 20th, 2011 is a total 2,055,701.   The total view count of main index (non-pedophilia content) of The Hidden Wiki was 2,677,430 time.

Considering the scope of this mission and its success, we initiated a brief interview on the #OpDarknet channel of the anonops server on IRC with a user named arson’ representing #OpDarknet. This operation is a worldwide phenomenon, as most other Anonymous operations are with Anons in every continent (as stated by arson). Arson forewarned us that much of the operation is still secretive and that they may not be able to answer all the questions put forth by us.


Techie Buzz (TB): Pastebin data reveals that there is a huge amount of CP proliferating the DarkNet and most of the people there are staunch with their refusal to remove it since it is their “last safe haven” so to speak. Will it end in a stalemate?

Arson (A): I don’t believe it will. There are enough of us that operations go on around the clock nonstop, and we are gaining new supporters every day.

TB: And the process of your attacks will mostly be the same, i.e. DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service Attack) and when possible the unveiling of personal information of people involved in this kind of work, yes?

A: That I cannot say. What I can say is we will continue to take down the servers with any method necessary, and our research team will continue to dig up detail on the pedophiles.

TB: I see. This brings up my next question: is this attack only against CP or will it also continue to get rid of the the underground markets such as the silk road, the farmer’s market and the contract killers etc. on the DarkNet?

A: This is only against CP

TB: Is there any connection between this op and the shut down of /r/jailbait? I know this is a rather lame question but the two events occurred quite close to each other so I was wondering. (Also the fact that a news channel got wind of [almost] CP proliferating on the clearnet and thus debasement of a collective of the internet followed.)

A: To my knowledge, there is no connection between #OpDarknet and the shut down.

TB: How do you think the attack will affect the BitCoin (BTC) economy, since a very high amount of transactions are done using BTC in the DarkNet and the fact that you guys have struck a nerve there may put a pause to a majority of the transactions there since it might be deemed unreliable.

A: The majority of transactions have nothing to do with CP, and as for the illicit ones that do, they should feel evasive of buying or selling any sort of CP related material.

TB: This might be nitpicking, but considering that CP-related material proliferates every bit of the DarkNet (from whatever I can see, it’s either that, or drugs or misc. shady deals) which is bought by BTC won’t the BTC market fall?

A: You might say so, but in doing that, you’re saying that BitCoins rely on child pornography. Forgive me for sounding crass, but if that’s the case, then the currency is doomed at heart.

TB: Why the sudden turn of events to policing the DarkNet? Was there any trigger for this operation?

A: We vowed to fight for the defenseless, there is none more defenseless than innocent children being exploited.

TB: Thanks a lot arson. Any final words you’d like to add?

A: We aren’t doing it for the recognition, or the PR. We are doing this because it’s what is right and what should have been done a long time ago.

The Anonymous collective is hell bent on weeding out the smear of child porn from the DarkNet’s servers (specifically from Freedom Hosting) and it seems that they will punch through the staunch defense of the hidden web’s CP aficionados. However, if these people fled the searchable internet to the hidden one to pursue their ghastly pursuits, with enough time they may yet flee to a darker layer of the deep web to proliferate. Moreover, this is just a sprightly small step to be rid of the plague of child pornography and there are many miles to go before #OpDarknet sleeps. We hope the mainstream media picks this up and champions a campaign to get to the root cause of this exploitation. Kudos to #OpDarknet!