Questions regarding the Dark Web

As it stands, the Dark Web of the World Wide Web (WWW) is dominated by three major Darknets, computer networks coexisting and operating within the WWW. Those three are the Tor Project, I2P (Invisible Internet Project), and Freenet. While Tor and I2P began in 2002 and 2003 respectively, Freenet was established in March 2000. In essence, the Dark Web came into being at the beginning of the 21st century and based on ideas and concepts developed towards the end of the late 20th century.

Freenet was the creation of an Irishman, Ian Clarke, who devised it as a computer science project at the University of Edinburgh. The project was entitled “A Distributed Decentralized Information Storage and Retrieval System (1999).” It proposed the establishment of an algorithm to form the basis of a decentralized network of computers exchanging and duplicating information on demand anonymously. At stake was the Neoliberal conception of Freedom in the digital realm. The digital realm is designed to allow anyone with access to it the ability to intercept someone else’s computer and uncover anything from the kinds of information they are looking for on search engine to the specific words used in their messages. Every word chosen and every action taken on the digital realm leaves a virtual trail that anyone could follow.

Clarke argued that even though the WWW seems disorderly and chaotic in its infancy during the 1990s, this condition cannot be expected to last forever. As Parliaments, Market/Mixed Economies, and Fractional-Reserve Banking Systems encounter new ways of applying the digital realm to their own activities, the WWW will someday lose those characteristics, which it certainly did by the 2010s. This will cause the WWW to cease becoming a place where people could speak and think freely without fear of retribution. And with the WWW leaving virtual trails, Parliaments will find every justification to engage to protect Civil Society through censorship.

Thus, the rationale behind Freenet was to establish a truly decentralized computer network that could not otherwise be provided by the WWW. While this Author will not condone Clarke for later realizing Freenet, I can however understand why a decentralized computer network would become justifiable. In the paper itself, Clarke mentioned how most of the digital infrastructure comprising the WWW, including its IPs (Internet Protocols) and DNS (Domain Name System), remains controlled by an American organization contracted by the US Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Prior to October 1, 2016, NTIA contracted control of the WWW’s key infrastructure to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), an organization situated in California. When its contract with NTIA expired, ICANN was able to conduct its activities in the Private Sector, shifting its Mode of Production away from Production for Utility.

The problem with allowing a single organization like ICANN to control the WWW, Clarke maintained, is that it becomes easy for the entire WWW to shut down. In a world where billions of people around the world have come to depend on the WWW, the idea of the digital realm ending has become unthinkable for most people. The proposal outlined by Clarke would later go on to become Freenet, essentially bringing the Dark Web into existence.

From the standpoint of the Work-Standard, a different perspective can be entertained regarding the WWW. Having the WWW governed by a US corporation under Californian State Law raises the question of whether any Totality has the necessary Freedom of Action to govern themselves in the digital realm. One has to seriously wonder if letting a single foreign corporation wield so much power over a Totality’s access to the digital realm would be conducive to the loss of national sovereignty for their Council State. And even when the Council State decides to cut off access to the WWW for whatever Intent, one has to also wonder if the Jeffersonians have their own vested interest in promoting the Empire of Liberty through this arrangement. The image of the Liberal Utilitarian Panopticon becomes relevant here: if the Jeffersonians can spy on the online activities of the Council State and its Totality, why should that same Council State and Totality tolerate such spying offline? Is the digital realm an extension of the Real World or not? At the same time, why should the Council State be spying on its own citizens?

The Liberal Utilitarian Panopticon, when it was designed by Jeremy Bentham during the Enlightenment, was intended to resemble a prison. Whoever controls the Panopticon has the ability to spy on anyone without being spied on in return. The digital realm, so long as it continues to be defined by the World Wide Web, will continue to feature that concept. But does it have to be that way? Is a different conception of the digital realm capable of existing?

One cannot speak of a National Intranet without personal privacy. The World Wide Web has demonstrated its ability to erase the distinctions between national sovereignty and personal privacy. Any Totality and their State is vulnerable to having their own information intercepted for long as both have access to the WWW. The only way to regain the initiative is for a nation to maintain its own digital infrastructure conducive to its own National Intranet.

Categories: Politics

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