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The Web's Seedy Underbelly

Google is handy, but it doesn't show you everything the web has to offer.

Do you remember the good old days – just last year, when googling any word at all brought you an amazing array of pornographic associations? These days, our glitzed up internet experience is all Hollywood trailers, streaming TV, recipes, funny cats and glossy ads. Very PG and corporate and appropriate.

So it should not come as any surprise that there still is something insidious and dirty lurking in the digital world – it’s called the deep web, also known as Invisible Web, the Undernet or Hidden Web. This underzone contains content not available by standard search engines. It’s also called Onionland due to its layers of URLS – which means anonymous surfing. And I really really miss my anonymity. I haven’t accepted the modern concept that privacy is archaic and antisocial. For me, instead of self expressing all over facebook, I would prefer to don a trench coat and go snooping in dark alleys without having to explain my curiosity to, well, the authorities, whoever they may be.

An arrest was made recently that brought the seedy underbelly of the web to the forefront. Silk Road website founder and operator, 29 year old Ross Ulbricht was taken into custody in San Francisco. Known as the Dread Pirate Roberts, he founded and ran the Silk Road website, a bustling e-market where you could buy and sell drugs of all kinds, guns, identity "services", and, contracts for murder. Untraceable Bitcoin electronic currency only. Less than a month after Dread Pirate was arrested, Silk Road 2.0 was up and running. We’re definitely not in Kansas anymore.

It’s also a popular place for those who just want their communications private. There’s a loud chatterverse that gives a real gauge of the undercurrents in a population. An interesting news site, launched last year, it offers interpretation and insight of that subsurface chatter., claims to rummage the deep net and social media to find stories other media can’t. They use tech called Open Mind, originally designed for “law enforcement and public safety”. It’s more like spy tech to the vocative journalists and “Data Ninjas” who monitor and analyze deep net communications for the meaningful trend or story.

But if you did do that, you’d also need a passport which is where Tor comes in. It’s a free software you download as your gateway to the Deep Net. It keeps you layered in anonymity, and allows you to see web sites otherwise not available to you. I do caution, although it suggests your frolicking in the Deep Net will be unobserved, keep in mind the Dread Pirate was found and arrested.

So be very careful, some places could get you in a lot of trouble, even if you cover the webcam on your computer with a sticky note and think you’re wearing a virus-proof trench coat. Dangerous? Probably. Certainly interesting. For naked News, I'm Whitney St. John.