The results of a survey conducted by Centre for International Governance Innovation, a think-tank body in Canada, have shown that people wanted the dark web to be shut down.
The dark web is a collection of websites that are not indexed by popular search engines and it can be accessed only by using specialized software.
So much so, it has been used to secure many a dubious deal: from selling stolen identities and arms to dangerous and banned drugs.
However, the reputation of the dark net amongst the public has been on a downslide with the suspected connection of the online anonymity offered by these websites and the recent terror attacks.
Results of a survey that were released recently pointed to the fact that about 71 percent of the survey respondents stated that they wanted the dark web to be shut down.
The survey encompassed 24,000 individuals in over 24 countries. Of those Americans whose opinions were taken, about 72 percent surveyed responded that the darknet should be shut down.
The basic perception of the darknet tended to be negative among the majority that responded and the feeling that it is harmful was predominant. According to Eric Jardine, a Tor researcher and a CIGI fellow, most respondents felt that darknet did not belong to the class of useful technology.
However, the CIGI researchers offered a three-line description about the dark web: as a part of the web that may be accessed using specialized browsers and as a place that can be used by journalists, whistleblowers, and rights activists to put down corruption and exercise freedom of expression.
It was also a place used by cyber criminals for child abuse or to sell illegal drugs and arms and hide from law enforcement agencies. This was done to give a clear idea to the respondents as to the current status so that they can answer the survey questions with clarity.
Even with the researchers’ prompt in mind about the dark web, most of the respondents of the survey gave the opinion that it should be shut down.
Countries that were most negative in their responses were Indonesia, Mexico and India wherein 4 out of 5 favored shutting it down.
Even darknet-friendly nations such as Hong Kong and Sweden had close to 61 percent of the respondents voting for its shutdown.
According to Jardine, the negative perceptions have not been removed even after the close-down of Silk Road 2.0 and other bitcoin drug marketplaces and child exploitation sites.
Jardine also opines that the overall opinion of the respondents to close down the dark web is just a knee jerk reaction when they hear that it is being used for criminal purposes.
It clouds the mind to such an extent that the possibility of using the same dark web to rally against repression of human rights does not find a place in their minds at all.
The Tor Project spokesperson Kate Krauss however, opined that Tor allowed for freedom of human expression. This was in response to the CIGI survey.
Whereas countries that had a tradition of protest were more in favor of the dark web (e.g., Hong Kong), some other countries like Mexico and India where there were recent incidents of drug-related or terrorist violence were of the opinion that dark web should be shut down.
Though the CIGI survey took place earlier in time than the Belgium and Paris attacks, 76 percent of French respondents wanted dark web to be pulled down.
The numbers have gone up after the darknet related comments issued by the French Interior Minister after the Brussels airport attack. It was initially reported that the ISIS Paris attackers had purportedly purchased their arms from the darknet market though this was later discredited.
According to the survey, some respondents who felt that dark web should be closed down also had a feeling that they were being monitored when they were online (62 percent) and information was being censored (54 percent) by governmental agencies.
Paradoxically, the dark web tools are designed to counteract these two very problems.
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