prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

Swimming in the Deep End

Posted by prof e on November 17, 2013

Time magazine: The Secret WebTime magazine’s cover story this past week was about a part of the internet that remains hidden to most of us. Estimated to be 500 times larger than the “Surface Web,” the “Deep Web” has legitimate uses, e.g. confidentiality for journalists and their sources, anonymity for undercover police operations, a safe haven for political dissidents, and a place for ordinary citizens to store information safe from nosy busybodies. While Google, Facebook and a host of other internet companies continue to harvest and exploit our user-data for commercial gain, the Deep Web provides a counterbalance; freedom from the prying eyes of corporate and governmental operatives.

But this safe haven also provides cover for those who traffic in illegal drugs, weapons, fake IDs, child porn, and other forms of contraband. Secrecy and anonymity in the hands of criminals and evildoers yields potential for the worst kinds of behavior.

The technology that makes this possible is powerful encryption software (Tor) and untraceable digital currency (Bitcoin). The combination of these two technologies makes it possible to operate with complete anonymity and privacy–with virtually no chance of being identified by law enforcement officials.

The recent arrest of Ross Ulbricht, the person accused of operating the illegal drug trading website Silk Road, was only possible because Ulbricht carelessly interacted in the “Surface Web” where his actions were noted by FBI operatives.

Speculation abounds as to the future for nefarious activity online but odds are pretty high that the closing of Silk Road will lead to a virtual Hydra. In case you have forgotten your Greek mythology, Hydra was a serpent monster with many heads. The tricky part was that it grew two new heads each time one was cut off. According to an article at The Daily Dot, “The Deep Web won’t die. It’s just going to plunge even deeper.”

Here’s a short video that explains more about the Deep Web. Try not to be too distracted by the voice-over that sounds like it came from a 1970’s episode of The Twilight Zone.


15 Responses to “Swimming in the Deep End”

  1. Whitney Manchego said

    I’m sure that the “Deep Web” surfaced because of the N.S.A.’s and F.B.I.’s mission to profile everyone’s online activity, and perhaps use it against them or it’s simply just a matter of invasion of privacy.(Turow) People everywhere have a choice to use the internet anonymously through the deep web, but it also allows a huge amount of illegal activity to occur. So who is to blame here, the government, or the evildoers? The deep web has a smaller chance of existing if the government wasn’t building profiles on people’s internet activity. On the other hand, the “evildoers” are abusing the anonymity of internet use so as to not leave behind a trace of there crimes, whatever they may be. This just adds another excuse for the government to invade law abiding citizens’ privacy even further.

  2. Matthew Klamm said

    The “Deep Web”, a place to go to commit heinous crimes, or simply a place away from the constant attempt to profile us completely?

    It is no secret that everything we do online is used for advertising companies to build a virtual profile of us. At least this is true for everything we do on the surface web. I think that the article by Time magazine and the light that being shone into the deep web is a carefully designed and targeted piece of propaganda. I feel that this is an attempt to drive people away from the “Deep Web”, the reality of it though is that the only people that would be driven away because of this type of light is the legitimate patrons.

    To illustrate that point let’s consider a more concrete example. Say there is a part of a particular town that isn’t the best area but there is also an amazing local restaurant in the same area. The patrons of this particular restaurant know full well that some of the activities in the neighborhood are less than savory but they themselves do not partake in said activities. Let’s also say that for reasons of safety law enforcement cannot enter the neighborhood but they want to bring light to the activities that occur in that neighborhood so they start plastering it all over the news. Now, if one of the patrons of the above mentioned restaurant is seen going into that neighborhood, it will be instantly assumed that they are up to no good. Soon it would become easier to find a new place to eat than to be associated with the activities with that particular neighborhood. However, for those conducting business in that neighborhood, they will just continue doing what they do, knowing they are completely safe.

    Now lets bring this back to the internet. The activity done in the deep web is analogous to the activity in the neighborhood. The difference is that when we are in the surface web, our every action is recorded and used to build a profile of us. This is done to sell us to advertisers, which is what funds many of the websites we enjoy using, e.g. Facebook. Many people simply don’t want some company knowing everything about them, and choose to utilize a part of the web that is free from the eyes of advertisers. Many people, in today’s highly technically savvy world, are smart enough to realize that the so called “mass customization” and “profiling” (Turow) does not stop at advertisers; these profiles carry over into the government profiling us. The propaganda surrounding the deep web is designed to make sure people don’t stray out of the government’s watchful eye.

    The question then becomes, is the deep web really as bad as “they” want you to believe. Are the Jews as evil as Hitler once claimed? Both situations come down to one thing, the government controlling what the people think about and what their opinions about those things are.

    Turow, Joseph. “Creating Portraits.” Media Today: An Introduction to Mass Communication. 4th ed. New York [etc.: Routledge, 2011. 540. Print.

  3. Matthew Klamm said

    Turow, Joseph. “Web Ads, Targeting, and Data Mining.” Media Today: An Introduction to Mass Communication. 4th ed. New York [etc.: Routledge, 2011.501 . Print.

  4. Samantha Baker said

    While the Deep Web is somewhat of a safe haven for illegal activities it also provides a balance to the surface web. The surface web is important to advertisers because it allows them to create profiles for customers and increase the sales of a particular product (Turow, 501). Even though people tend to dismiss ads they are still crucial to the businesses’ success. Many people are enraged at the collection and unauthorized use of their personal information, yet they enjoy the ease and relevance that is experienced on search engines. In contrast the Deep Web offers an alternative with more privacy in the form of identity tracking. The “Web crawlers” from search engines are unable to reach the information on the Deep Web due to its encryption software making it unavailable to the unaware or average citizen (Turow, 498). So some might argue that the Deep Web is only for the technologically savvy or criminals therefore provides no counterbalance of privacy to the common individual. Also, the difficulty to track illegal activities to their source by law enforcement detracts the positive uses of the Deep Web. Turow states that the “issue of digital privacy” is a problem like many other that will not go away quickly or easily (518). The Deep Web does not take away privacy but lends it which is also seen as a problem. So since there does not seem to be a simple solution it is safe to say that the Deep Web will become a growing component of the internet.

  5. Samantha Baker said

    Citation for last post:
    Turow, Joseph. Media Today: An Introduction to Mass Communication. 4th ed. New York: Routledge, 2011. Print.

  6. Mark Rizzo said

    Unless brought into the public eye by a bust with a site like SIlkRoad, the Deep Web is not something that I would picture the average american around the country to be thinking about on a daily basis. Of course, with the allowance of anonymity comes the allowance for potential malicious use. When it comes to black market deals, and distribution of questionable material, companies like BitCoin are not helping although I would hope that it wasn’t their business plan to appeal to the sketchy internet dealer demographic. Anonymity aside, once something is posted online, at least one person has saved it or shared it and nothing is temporary. That being said, if web companies find ways to try and keep out illegal business, two other ways around it will pop up in its place. I do not see it as a 100% controllable problem but rather more of a means of damage control. Trying to prevent as much negative activity as possible, with the time and resources allocated to the cause.

  7. Sarah Zarr said

    Filtering of Web content that could be considered offensive is a very controversial debate, more so than other media filtering (Turow 517). There seems to be a fine line between too much filtering and not enough filtering. It is hard to come to a conclusion because people have so many different ideas of what is considered offensive or what is too obscene. The 1st amendment right needs to be protected on the web, but other laws and rights need to be protected as well in the process. There are other laws regarding murder, pornography, trafficking, illegal drugs, and etc. that need to be taken into consideration with the issue of filtering content. If the content breaks those laws and regulations that harm people I think there should be filtering.

    The deep web helps to protect privacy rights (which is another big issue [Turow 518]) and helps to protect sensitive material and helps the FBI and other law enforcement find information and keep information hidden. It also allows traffickers, predators, and other criminals to do their dealings, which is a bigger problem than using the deep web for privacy and to hide information. It is becoming increasingly easy for predators to target children on the web and the deep web helps to cover their tracks. That is why I think there needs to be some sort of regulation. I think that if people release web content they should realize that it is going to be public and shouldn’t hide it in the deep web. Just because the content is hidden in the deep web doesn’t mean it is completely private and just because the crimes are hidden in the deep web doesn’t mean that the crimes are not hurting real people; so there should not be a place where criminals can cover their tracks so easily.
    -Sarah Zarr 12/3/2013

    Works Cited:
    Turow, Joseph. Media Today: An Introduction to Mass Communication. New York: Routledge, 2011. Print.

  8. Mark Rizzo said

    Turow Correlation:

    This blog entry relates to the textbook when it delves into corporate communications. Turow defines corporate communication as “the creation of a company’s image to its employees and to the public at large”(570). Upon reading this definition, my mind immediately went to Bitcoin. This is a company that gets recognition through stories with negative connotations. The fact that it is an untraceable way to distribute money to anyone, anywhere, makes it a popular form of currency for those in the black market. Without some sort of campaign to create a mental association of Bitcoin with anyone other than criminals is needed to give it more of a legitimate chance in more mainstream markets and to have people pay their real money for this virtual money.

    Turow, Joseph. Media Today: An Introduction to Mass Communication. New York: Routledge, 2011. Print.

  9. Ronell McNeal said

    The fact the government has so much control over what we see on social media or what we can search made peole what some form a privicy. Turow talks about it in chapter 7 saying “Most tenagers and young adults participating in online social networks dismiss concerns about personal privicy” (mass media revolution). Alot of people dont focus on the fact that with some things you put on social media the world can see. Depending on who see’s it they can do a number of this as in trying to find you, reporting you to a job or school, some may even go out of the way to set you up. So the people that wanted complete privicy took it to the next level. Who’s knows if the deep internet started out as a place of illegal stuff but the fact someone one or group made it to have privicy people see it as a way to do what ever they want and now its full of illegal things on it. The government i feel uses the fact that parents want their kids safe to get us to pass of on acts that allows them to take away everyone privicy. I know there are somthings that need to be policed such as kids bing harrased, but that more of the parents job to do that not the government.

  10. Holly Fransua said

    It seems like the deep web has taken the place of the black market, but has been made even better because of the impossibility of not being able to track transactions that have occurred or track what is going on in the deep web. Tourow on page 492 states that “it has become common for more people to use the internet from reaching out from home or from work in the U.S.” So there could be some advantages of this type of resource like not having to deal with commercial corporations as well as not being able to track your personal information so that it wouldn’t get stolen or someone being able to use it against you. Although the slight advantages there are obviously many disadvantages like the illegals mentioned in the article. I feel that the goods are vastly out weighed by the negatives in the deep web and that it is mainly used as a safe haven for crime and criminals.

  11. Holly Fransua said

    Works Cited:
    Turow, Joseph. Media Today: An Introduction to Mass Communication. 4th Ed. New York: Routledge, 2011. Print.

  12. Luis Reyes said

    After reading this blog post about the deep web i can come to the conclusion that it can used for both good and bad things. Although it is primarily used for bad things because of its secretive nature, i believe that its secretive nature can also provide people with many other positive perks and uses. In this article it says that the deep is not monitored by the big companies that rule the surface web, without these companies watching the consumers every move and collecting data about them the consumer can browse and surf the net without distraction and without worrying about their privacy. In our lecture book Turow refers to the “ways in which the industry is changing because of computers and the web”(515). What turow is saying when he says this is that with the use of computers and the internet the industry in media is continuously changing because of the fact of how fast the technology is moving.

    Works Cited:
    Turow, Joseph. Media Today: An Introduction to Mass Communication. 4th Ed. New York: Routledge, 2011. Print.

  13. Rick Quintana said

    I like the article in Time magazine about the deep web, it seems like it was hidden but in reality it has always been there only in a different form. The other form it took was known as the black market. Long before the web product was delivered and transported in secret. People knew about it, but did not want to confront it and make a stand against it. Now in the last decade as technology progressed and the access of the web people are being exploited, raped, murdered, sold, and enslaved, with more countless acts against to each other. We have progressed to make a stand to help fight those who can’t use the same technology that keeps the hidden web hid. Filters need to be in place to keep innocent eyes such as children from very corrupt individuals, as stated by Turow (517).

  14. Rick Quintana said

    Citation for last post:
    Turow, Joseph. Media Today: An Introduction to Mass Communication. 4th ed. New York: Routledge, 2011. Print.

  15. amdeary said

    All the references to the Deep Web remind me of the black market, to be honest. A place where murderers and thieves go to exchange ideas and trade their specific skill sets. Who knows what could be going on in these dark recesses?

    But, as the book mentions, the Judicial branch has stated that the internet deserves the “utmost protection” under the first amendment, so my question is: how far would they be willing to extend that protection? If two men plot a murder on the Deep Web, but the actual murder never occurs, are they still protected under freedom of speech? Or would law enforcement officials try to track down these anonymous plotters, and attempt to charge them with conspiracy to commit murder? The whole idea of this secret Deep Web poses more questions than it answers for me, personally. I doubt it will ever go away, but I don’t think that publicizing the whole trade via Time articles is the best course of action, either.

    Turow, Joseph. Media Today: An Introduction to Mass Communication. 4th Edition. New York: Routledge, 2011. Print.

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