Read and watch the full transcript of software engineer Kyle Terry’s TEDx Talk: The Dark Side of the Web: Exploring Darknets at TEDxSalem conference.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here: the-dark-side-of-the-web-exploring-darknets-by-kyle-terry-at-tedxsalem
The term darknet was coined in the ‘70s and it was meant as a way to describe networks isolated from ARPANET [The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network]. ARPANET eventually became the commercial Internet run by the private telecoms we all use today.
ARPA was created by the US Department of Defense and it was created to share data of other projects and research laboratories with the universities. And for those of you familiar with networking, it was the first packet switching network, which is the foundation to modern networking.
Now we’re not talking about the World Wide Web here. That didn’t show up until 1990 when Tim Berners-Lee set up the first web server at CERN. The Internet is a massive piece of hardware. It enables communication instantly on a global scale.
[He’s lying; it’s totally a series of tubes.]
[It’s absolutely massive]
And in fact, there are hundreds of cables spanning the ocean along with a ground to satellite communication and radio to radio communication, just to make this thing work. I’d like to tell people I sort of navigated the globe once and I start with that because it sounds a lot cooler than it actually is. What I did was set up a bunch of virtual servers around the world running Netcat and I clone the left computer’s hard drive to the right computer by streaming the data through the tunnel. And it’s so awesome that that works at all but I feel like people have ruined this for us. They’ve ruined it with spying and surveillance and there’s a constant need to watch everything we do.
So a lot of us are scared to read a certain page on the Internet or maybe download a publication that’s a little too leftist or rightist in content. And my hope is darknets help solve this problem. So I’m going to explore and share a couple with you here today.
When it comes to darknets, there are a couple different types. Historically they were meant to be private file sharing networks but these days they’re dynamic pages, rich with media content and pictures and videos. So they’re already familiar to us. With darknets, some are peer-to-peer, some are centralized but most are going for a decentralized model. And we’re looking for specific types of philosophy when we consider whether or not our network is a darknet. We’re looking for takedown resistance, that is the government or anyone else for that matter can’t just come in, unplug the thing and watch it disappear .We’re looking for anonymity, so nobody knows who’s reading uploading or creating content and content richness, because if there’s nothing to see or read or it all sucks, then really what’s the point of even having a darknet.
It turns out they’re pretty useful and they’ve been used for political safe haven, journalism, piracy, black markets but most importantly at least to me privacy. You’ve all heard of the Silk Road I’m sure.