More than any other technology the world wide web has changed our planet. Enabling a myriad of other technologies while bringing the world closer together, it is transformative but the web itself continues to evolve and transform. Not only has the technology behind the web changed but the way we use it and the way the information contained within the web is used has also changed.
These changes have seen the rise of a new type of internet, the deep web and the dark web. With the rise of these new webs a new name was given to first web, it is now known as the Surface Web. To clear up any confusion here is how you tell them apart.
The Surface Web – The Internet as we know it.
The Surface Web is the web we have all grown to love; searchable, easily accessible and not particularly private. It is accessed via any number of browsers and the information or content we add to it is extracted and analysed in a new art form called big data.
The Deep Web – Hiding under the Surface
Simply put everything that is not searchable is a part of the Deep Web. Search engines use several techniques to find and catalogue the content that makes up the Surface Web; links from existing content, web spiders use site maps to scan sites and they also search social media. Typically, Deep Web content doesn’t allow these mechanisms to take place, excluding them from the search engine indexes. More private Deep Web sites also use logins and other security measures to further restrict who can access the content. While most users spend much of their time surfing around the Surface Web it actually on constitutes 4% of the web, while the Deep Web makes up 90%.
The Dark Web – Hidden under the Onions Skin
The infamous Dark Web is anything that isn’t searchable and requires an special browser to access it. Technically the Dark Web is a subset of the Deep Web as it is non-searchable content. To access the Dark Web you need to use a TOR (The Onion Router) browser (or similar) that’s built on encryption technology to keep you anonymous. Some dark web sites also require a special protocol be used to access the site, like a secret door knock even knowing the address and using the right browser isn’t enough.
With no search engines to simplify finding your way around the Dark Web exploring is a process of working through lists of links or being handed links by members of private sites. The Dark Web has become infamous for the illicit activity that takes place under its cover of darkness but there Is far more to the Dark Web than guns and drugs. Having said that you do need to take precautions, it is highly recommended that your use a good VPN service while exploring the Dark Web.
Reference: MakeUseOf – The Best Dark Web Websites
The Future of the Internet is Dark
In the early days of the Internet, before search engines existed, the Surface Web was much like the wild west. There were no rules and very little tracking of user information. The Dark Web is a lot like those early days, and as the Surface Web becomes more tightly regulated and governed people will go to the Dark Web for more of their online entertainment.
This shift can already be seen within the fringe news communities. More and more conspiracy media websites are moving to the Dark Web as they are branded fake news on the Surface Web. In the future the ability to express yourself, be radical and push the boundaries will become an exercise carried out in the darkness. This will leave the Surface Web with social media, mainstream news, cat videos and online shopping.
You can expect controversial sites such as 4Chan, LiveLeak and WikiLeaks to shift to the Dark Web in the near future. The may even have to develop a way to separate the back-end and front-end of the website so they can move addresses quickly, something torrent sites have been attempting to perfect for a while.
If you have ever searched for your own name using Google you may have noticed that much of your online life is actually available for all to see. Privacy on the Surface Web is now not even an illusion, it is a distant memory. Every comment you make is being used to build a history of who you are. Even private comments and information you think are private will turn up in databases used to build a history of a person known by their IP address. Cambridge Analytica is a prime example of this, they simply paid Facebook a large wad of cash to gain access to this information and now it is apart of many databases around the world.
China is the first government in the world to implement a scheme of scoring its citizens based on the information gathered on the Surface Web, called the social credit system. The system monitors everything its citizens do online and rewards or punishes them depending on their score. Don’t for a minute think that they are they only government doing it, they are just the first to publicly implement it. If you have gone for a job in recent years you can be sure your online life was checked and scored. So the future of the Surface Web is public information. The sensible amongst us will ensure only the things we are happy for anyone to know about us is published there.
While the Surface Web isn’t going anywhere it will continue to become more restricted, and more tightly governed. In order for people to find the freedom that existed during the early days of the internet the Dark Web will continue to grow in popularity. Attempts to control the content of the Dark Web are an ongoing battle for governments around the world and they definitely should continue to clamp down on criminal activity but that won’t stop its growth.
Other new technologies such as block chain and quantum computers will continue the webs evolution. Block chains will secure information while quantum computers may allow governments to peer past even the strongest encryption. Both pushing and pulling the web in different directions but this is the beauty of the Web, it is as much a reflection of who we are as it is a reflection of our technology.
Reference: Wikipedia – Cambridge Analytica
Reference: BrightPlanet – Clearing Up Confusion – Deep Web versus Dark Web
Reference: MakeUseOf – The Best Dark Web Site You Won’t Find On Google
Reference: CNET – Guide to the Dark Web