Internet-sourced scandals involving politicians are becoming more common and complex. In this analysis, we explore whether the dark web has played a role in this trend.
We know that the dark web certainly played a role when it came to the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
In fact, one could argue that it might have been the election in history that was most affected by the internet.
This doesn’t seem like a hyperbole when one considers that there is still information, years later, that ekes out regarding how the Trump campaign’s hire of Cambridge Analytica helped to influence the election through Facebook, which boasts a massive reach of 2.2 billion monthly active users.
While the internet has certainly changed human civilization forever, and has been essential to technological development for decades now, it is more obvious than ever.
This was the first time in recorded history that a presidential candidate was directly asking a foreign government to influence an election, after all.
Many who do not even know much about election campaigns are familiar with the fact that they are expensive undertakings that require extensive connections, fundraisers, opposition research and lots of money.
However, this was a much more forward and crass appeal than most. There are many who opined that this was the reason that Trump appealed to the public, and ultimately won.
There are certainly explanations that many would not consider cynical or conspiratorial in nature.
It might be that politicians simply aren’t aware of the dark web, and thus don’t really feel the need to refer to it or be threatened by it.
There certainly is something to be said for the fact that the U.S. government might not be the demographic that is up to date with emerging technologies.
In fact, today, the average American is 20 years—that’s right, two decades—younger than their representative in Congress.
Specifically, the average age of a representative is 57 and the average age of a senator is 61.
If one considers that cryptocurrency has been around for almost 10 years, and that lawmakers are just now urging for guidance and a clear regulatory framework regarding the sector—this explanation might make sense.
There is certainly the possibility that politicians aren’t aware of emerging technologies, and do not find them relevant until their constituents do so.
While there certainly have been scandals involving politicians, it doesn’t seem as though the dark web has played any meaningful role.
For example, Rachel Hundley—a California politician serving on the Sonoma City Council—was threatened with emails suggesting that she should drop out of a political race, it didn’t involve the dark web.
After all, the individuals sending the emails wanted her to drop out of the race, first and foremost, and were using scantily clad photos of her at Burning Man festival as leverage.
If the photos were published on the dark web, for example, the move would have been too blatant—and it wouldn’t serve the purpose of the criminals.
Instead of backing out of the race, she created a video addressing her accusers, calling them “faceless cowards.”
Is the dark web only a tool that is worthy when it comes to presidential elections? This certainly could be a logical conclusion, considering the fact that hacker groups such as Anonymous tend to be global and decentralized, and thus their efforts have to be diverted accordingly.
While local elections have not received attention on the dark web, the hacker group Ophillary was encouraging that hackers penetrate Hillary Clinton’s email database systems as much as possible.
Of course, that encourages the growth of threat intelligence firms to combat these efforts with darknet monitoring services for political campaigns and other entities.
It’s not hard to see that a decentralized network of hackers would be more interested in presidential elections than local council members.
However, how do we know that every hacker is on the same page? Do they all have a common enemy?
We know that since Anonymous is global and decentralized, there are bound to be members that disagree when it comes to politics.
In fact, a polarizing candidate such as Trump actually did cause a rift in the organization. How would a coordinated attack work in this case?
If one faction of the group started working towards destroying the credibility of one candidate, would the other faction respond?
While it is clear that hacking and political elections have much more to do with gaining access to social networks and gathering data than it does to do with the dark web currently, time will tell whether that trend will change—and how and when it will change.
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