Monday, August 15, 2005

Darknet: Scared of the Dark?

Last night on SVT television (the state network) 6pm news we were informed of "new technology" that will make the internet a "paradise for pedophiles" and it is called "Darknet". Then a shadowy graphic of a pair of male hands moving over the keyboard which used a delay video feature to produce a sinister hallucinogenic effect.
The story went on to explain that Darknet was "en typ av mjukvara" a type of software, which allowed users to completely anonymous through ISP numbers being hidden in digital transactions, "aven fran experterna" even from experts.
An expert was interviewed, from ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking in Children for Sexual Purposes)and he was worried by such a development in technology, although he seemed to know not much about it.
Then a Swedish connection was established in a mathematician who played a part in formulating the maths surrounding Darknet. A complex equation was shown graphically during his short interview. He said in the interview it was nothing revolutionary in the maths.
Today the story has been removed from the SVT website news webcast (replaced by a story about workers cleaning up after a storm months ago in southern Sweden having a party).
I was interested by this story having followed things on the Darknet website for quite a while and not realizing what I thought was a book and "grassroots media network" was actually "a paradise for pedophiles". Looking more into it I can see it began with a fairly balanced New York Times article, which became a very unbalanced Svenska Dagbladet article, that was then taken up by SVT.
So what is Darknet?:
darknet n. The collection of networks and other technologies that enable people to illegally share copyrighted digital files with little or no fear of detection.
This could apply to many such networks that operate outside the big names like Gnutella etc.
Returning to the NYT article, I quote:

"Computer researchers say that the term "anonymous peer-to-peer," when applied to darknets, is actually a misnomer, because the networks must exist in the open Internet and thus must have identifiable addresses where they can be contacted by other nodes of the network."

So any network that is open can not be anonymous, closed networks can be so, but that is the same as secret societies which exist on our side of the screen. Darknet sounds more like a state of mind than a "type of software".

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