News service joins the dark side of the web
An investigative journalism group has become the first major news organisation to launch on the Dark Web.
Pro Publica, a non-profit investigative journalism news service dedicated to public interest stories, has launched a version of its site on the Dark Web.
But an Australian cyber security expert predicts mainstream media are unlikely to follow.
Associate Professor Philip Seltsikas of the University of Sydney Business School believes that as long as news sites are available on the public internet there will be a reluctance to offer services on the Dark Web because of its reputation.
“I can’t really see why this would become a trend as the public internet is still obviously available to users of the Dark Web, and as it is normally associated with illegal activities,” he said.
“It would be hard to imagine that mainstream news sites would see a need to invest in a Dark Web version of their sites.”
The Dark Web is infamous for illicit websites offering drugs, credit card details for sale and child pornography.
However it is a sphere of the internet that is accessible only via specific software, letting a user browse the web with anonymity.
Pro Publica web developer Mike Tigas told Wired magazine that the rationale for launching a version on the Dark Web was to give readers more choice in accessing content, especially in places like China where the internet is censored.
While the anonymity also allows greater protection for potential whistle-blowers when interacting with media organisations,
“everyone should have the ability to decide what types of metadata they leave behind”, he said.
“We don’t want anyone to know that you came to us or what you read.”
Mr Tigas argues that this will be the start of a growing trend as more and more media organisations offer Dark Web sites as a response to privacy concerns.
“Personally I hope other people see that there are uses for hidden services that aren’t just hosting illegal sites,” he said.
Another academic, Jamie Bartlett, director of leading UK think tank Demos, has predicted a large uptake in Dark Web users in coming years as people are increasingly concerned about privacy.
“The dark net is no longer a den for dealers and a hideout for whistle-blowers. It’s already going mainstream,” he said in a recent public lecture. “Facebook has started a dark net site.”