The Dark Net – Jamie Bartlett’s Guide To The Internet’s Murky Underbelly

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A comprehensive exploration of what lies beneath the surface net, The Dark Net is the newly materialized brainchild of Jamie Bartlett, the director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at think tank Demos.

In the short months since its release, the book has gone from strength to strength; drawing much of the expected controversy and interest, as well as being nominated for two separate awards.

Bartlett remains non-judgmental throughout, even as he describes the blackest corners of the darknet, and he balances out the good and bad that exists everywhere.

The Dark Net is as fascinating as it is disturbing, and Bartlett never shies away from the darker stories that his subject matter is known for.

The first page of his introduction tells the story of The Assassination Market, created by a man who goes by the pseudonym Kuwabatake Sanjuro.

He describes his first reactions on seeing the site, which greets you with a list of recognizable figures, with varying amounts of money beside their name.
The site has four instructions listed on its front page:

Your TOR usage is being watched

>     add a name to the list

>     add money to the pot under the person’s name

>     predict when that person will die

>     Correct predictions win the pot

Not the most useful bet I admit, however The Assassination Market is aptly named, and comes with a fifth instruction:

>     making your prediction come true is entirely optional

I found stories such as this encapsulating; Bartlett expertly recounts first hand tales of where his Dark Net exploration took him.

He buys marijuana from an online drug marketplace, and describes how it came in discreet packaging five days later.

He travels to Barcelona where he meets tech fuelled programmers vigorously searching for a more effective way to mine bitcoins.

He even meets up with a “camgirl” in Yorkshire who appears on thousands of screens around the globe, paid in tips from anonymous viewers.

He does not shy away from scarier aspects of the darknet as well, describing how quickly he was met with a link advertising a child exploitation website.

“Once I’d opened my Tor browser, it took me two mouse clicks to arrive at the page advertising the link,” he writes.

“If I had clicked again, I would have committed an extremely serious crime.

I can’t think of another instance where doing something so bad is so easy.”

Bartlett takes the reader on a rollercoaster ride through the darknet.

He doesn’t get bogged down in the heavy technical talk that inevitably comes with the Dark Net, however, it is written in such a way that experienced darknet users will still find the book thoroughly gripping.

He also remains non-judgmental throughout and finds himself by the end of his journey arguing for the benefits of the Dark Net; despite the flaws which he has seen first-hand.

He concludes by saying: “In the dark net, we can simply find more, do more and see more.

And in the dark net we have to be careful, cautious and responsible.”

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