The New York Times has just announced that the internationally renowned publication is now accessible on the dark web. The media outlet is set to have its own .onion service, and users can only access the site through the Tor browser.
The news was surprising due to the reputation that Tor, along with the dark web, has developed in the recent past.
These hidden corners of the internet are associated with all forms of illicit activities including drug and firearms trade, the sale of malicious software and credit card scams.
But the great news is that not all dark web users engage in illegal activities. This case is one of the instances of a service that would be beneficial to many Internet users.
The strategic move will likely result in expanded readership for The New York Times. The age-old media house covers stories from all over the world, which are read by millions of people globally.
The reason for the expected increase in audience is that readers from countries that control internet usage and enact widespread censorship can be able to have access to this alternative service.
For this demographic, access to information online is especially challenging given the surveilling eyes of their governments. Local network monitoring happens in numerous countries around the world.
The decision can, therefore, be seen as a win for those who oppose internet censorship and support privacy.
In the announcement, The New York Times’ Information Security division stated that the new service will feature the same news stories and daily updates as the regular site.
Readers can now have the added benefit of getting news while staying anonymous.
Tor usage has increased significantly over the past few years. More and more internet users are embracing the security and privacy that this open-source tool provides.
The decision by The New York Times to leverage Tor was a secure communication experiment that may prove to be successful.
Readers will be able to access the website through a special and secure channel, resembling a Virtual Private Network (VPN), through the Tor network.
Internet users utilizing the Tor browser can access the news outlet at their onion service site.
The Tor browser onion service was developed to ensure that the readers enjoy security and anonymity and will not encounter any blocks.
The New York Times is not the only mainstream organization to incorporate anonymity tools in their operations. Other notable organizations that now have Tor onion services include social media giant Facebook and investigative journalism outlet ProPublica.
These two organizations developed custom tools for their respective services.
The New York Times’ onion service has been developed using the Enterprise Onion Toolkit, an open-source tool that automates a large part of the configuration efforts of bringing access to a surface web platform or site onto the Tor network.
The publication has explicitly stated that their onion service is experimental and will be a work in progress. This means that some aspects of the surface web platform are expected to be absent in the Tor version.
According to the announcement, certain features including comments and logins have been disabled. The features will be offered to users during the next phase of implementation.
The onion service is also expected to exhibit functional problems. Users should expect the occasional outages since The New York Times will be making small adjustments to the website’s performance.
The firm’s engineering team stated that this process is meant to improve the service. The publication seeks to ensure that the Tor site exhibits the same features as the official website.
The New York Times promised its readers regular updates on the progress made in this alternative venture. They called on internet users to provide constructive feedback and report any bugs through email.
The launch of a New York Times onion service could be influential if it turns out to be successful.
It may kick-start the trend of more mainstream organizations embracing anonymity services. What lies ahead is just a matter of speculation.