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Researchers Build a Browser-Based Darknet

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the easy-come-easy-go dept.

Security 163

ancientribe writes "At Black Hat USA next month, researchers will demonstrate a way to use modern browsers to more easily build darknets — underground private Internet communities where users can share content and ideas securely and anonymously. HP's Billy Hoffman and Matt Wood have created Veiled, a proof-of-concept darknet that only requires participants have an HTML 5-based browser to join. No special software or configuration is necessary, unlike with darknets such as Tor. Veiled is basically a 'zero footprint' network, in which groups can rapidly form and disappear without a trace. The researchers admit darknets are attractive to bad guys, too, but they say they think these more easily set-up and dismantled nets will be more popular for mainstream (and legit) users." In somewhat related news, reader cheesethegreat informs us that version 0.7.5 of FreeNet has hit the tubes.

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Worried, maybe. (4, Interesting)

arizwebfoot (1228544) | more than 4 years ago | (#28354217)

The researchers admit darknets are attractive to bad guys, too.

Yeah, I would be worried about all those sock hat wearing pedophiles out there.

Of course maybe Craigslist could use it to advertise their wares.

Re:Worried, maybe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28354273)

Wouldn't you be more worried about the more organized elements?

On the other hand . . .

Re:Worried, maybe. (3, Insightful)

arizwebfoot (1228544) | more than 4 years ago | (#28354289)

You mean, like, our own government?

Have you no shame?

Re:Worried, maybe. (4, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#28354811)

Have you no shame?

Is that still a requirement for a public office?

Re:Worried, maybe. (1)

GaryOlson (737642) | more than 5 years ago | (#28356243)

So that's where all those government regulations are created and distributed from. Shame has nothing to do with bureaucracy; it's all in how you bypass the legally approved process of governing.

Re:Worried, maybe. (3, Interesting)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#28356797)

"it's all in how you bypass the legally approved process of governing."

Kinda like how Obama fired that Inspector General, without following the law Obama himself voted in, where you have to give congress 30 days notice AND a written reason why the IG was being fired?

Nah...the govt. doesn't need a darknet or anything to bypass the legally approved processes...

They just count on the general public/press not caring, and so far, it seems to work.

Re:Worried, maybe. (4, Insightful)

hansraj (458504) | more than 4 years ago | (#28354353)

Yes, darknet is attractive to bad guys but so is expectation of privacy in general.

What is wrong with you guys? Bad guys only? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28354521)

You nerds always eschew and reason that sure it's Murphy's law that can happen, but what about when good justice is dealt on darknets like spreading this kind of content? [filebase.to] What about the little good that darknets help? You people all just focus on all the bad and it's sick. Why can't you all accept the fact that everything in Murphy's law is good?

You people? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28354653)

What do you mean "you people?"

Re:What is wrong with you guys? Bad guys only? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28354919)

That video was entirely disappointing.

Re:What is wrong with you guys? Bad guys only? (1)

boredomist (1570917) | more than 5 years ago | (#28357195)

I really, really, don't want to know what was in that video you posted

Re:Worried, maybe. (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#28354903)

And that's exactly the reason why this will be outlawed immediately as soon as a sizable portion of the population (in the western world, folks, I'm not talking about Iran, China and Burma here) uses it to circumvent the governmental snooping that's running rampart.

Can't outlaw it, you say? Because we're in a free world and thus they can't just simply outlaw encryption?

Ok, they won't. What we'll get is a law that makes you liable if you "faciliate the spread of pedophilia". After all, if you help a pedo you're in the wrong as well, ain't you? Since you can't really determine what kind of data you roll around in a darknet (it would kinda defeat the purpose if you could), darknet proponents would get their IP sniffed and law enforcement would download any kind of kiddy porn they could find in the darknet. As soon as the IP of a proponent can be linked to the porn (say, a chunk came from him because it was stored at his part of the cloud), the trap closes, the law enforcement can "prove" that darknet proponents are "only" in for the kiddy porn and thus darknet is an evil tool of child exploitation.

Gimme a single reason to believe this won't happen, I beg you.

Re:Worried, maybe. (5, Insightful)

Gotenosente (1496667) | more than 4 years ago | (#28355375)

I think you are probably right and this type of thing will be attempted. However, in that situation, I would think that one could argue they had no knowledge that that's what they were partaking in. After all, that's the design of the system, right? Hell, if I help out a guy with a flat tire who happens to proceed to rape a child, am I guilty of aiding a pedophile? No, because there are plenty of legit reasons why a guy would be driving around in a car. Just as there are plenty of legit reasons why someone would want to surf entirely anonymously.

Re:Worried, maybe. (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#28355549)

That would make sense. But do you think a judge will be able to tell the difference, more so when he is told that he should better NOT tell the difference? It will be made a tool that faciliates child porn, and no "honest citizen" needs it... do you think this argumentation wouldn't be used? And all too readily believed by those that don't really care too much as long as they got YouTube and Twitter?

The idea that something should be legal because it is usually used for legal means and only in exceptions for illegal ones is one of the past. The same analogy could be used for guns, cars, almost anything human made can be used for good and ill. The problem here is that darknets are by their very definition something governments cannot regulate or control, and thus they will bring all the firepower they have into the field to destroy them if they see wide public use. The only reason we haven't seen them cracking down hard on them is simply that the amount of people using (or even knowing about) them is minimal. If darknets become a tool usable (and used) by the average computer user, they will become a target of governments which are all too eager to control and monitor what their citizens do.

I.e. pretty much all governments on this planet.

Re:Worried, maybe. (5, Interesting)

Gotenosente (1496667) | more than 5 years ago | (#28355727)

I share your fear. Here's what I think the key is: tie this type of tech up with something that almost all "good" citizens would be against from the start. Ie debut this as a vehicle for freedom of information in oppressive, countries. I think we have enough people in the US who believe that there is some sort of Axis of Evil out there that needs to be defeated by Freedom. Iran would be ideal, China would probably work. We need to give John Q Public a good first impression. Maybe an author writing a nice novel would be helpful too.

Re:Worried, maybe. (2, Informative)

Gotenosente (1496667) | more than 5 years ago | (#28356151)

"almost all "good" citizens would not be against"

If I give a killer a ride... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28355929)

I think an analogy would go smth like this. I'm a cab driver. I give a killer a ride. Have I participated in murder? No. It was a random event. Same with these P2P darknets that anonymize the bits.

However, you could find yourself, in the US, in front of a militant Christian judge who hates porn. Like what happened to that Hustler Magazine guy. Remember, the US is populated by Christofucks. It is a backwards place.

In Europe, the UK is hopeless. It's the most Big Brother state out there. Since the Brits only care about "shagging", drinking and smoking weed, you can't expect much from them. Germany is hopeless too. They like authoritarian states, as we know it, and they don't know how to deal with freedom.

Re:If I give a killer a ride... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28356407)

Funny how you dismiss America as "christofucks" and attempts at high morals, then disdain on Europe (which has a much lower religious attendance rate) as a bunch of lazy perverts. What do you want? Atheistic anarchy? That surely is a better way!

Re:If I give a killer a ride... (3, Insightful)

shentino (1139071) | more than 5 years ago | (#28356665)

Perhaps he saw that the terrorists have already won by getting our governments to take all our freedoms away.

Yes I said it.

The terrorists have won.

Re:If I give a killer a ride... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28357207)

Wait, whats wrong with Atheistic Anarchy? A world full of people who aren't willing to kill for a figment of someone elses imagination and don't rule over each other with an iron fist is a bad thing?

'You are wrong" and all goes downhill (1)

tecnico.hitos (1490201) | more than 5 years ago | (#28358095)

It doesn't matter which form of government they are in or which religion they follow, people will still try to rule over each other and will be willing to kill for a figment of their imagination.

They don't even need malicious intent for that matter. They just need to believe their opinion is "the best" or "for the good of all" regardless of other people agreeing or not. Any kind of belief (or government or even knowledge) will cause conflict.

When someone is defending its beliefs it might not even notice when it's crossing the line and going too far. It is subjective, after all. Then add self-justification and hidden interests...

Humility is an actual virtue.

Re:Worried, maybe. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28356047)

I think you are probably right and this type of thing will be attempted.
However, in that situation, I would think that one could argue they had no knowledge that that's what they were partaking in. After all, that's the design of the system, right?
Hell, if I help out a guy with a flat tire who happens to proceed to rape a child, am I guilty of aiding a pedophile? No, because there are plenty of legit reasons why a guy would be driving around in a car. Just as there are plenty of legit reasons why someone would want to surf entirely anonymously.

That might be enough to convince a jury, especially if the FBI doesn't find anything else incriminating on your systems.

But it is more than enough to get a warrant, your front door kicked off the hinges, and all your equipment confiscated for literally years. And you'll be lucky to get any of it back, ever, guilty or not.

As for your example above, they will approach it in the same fashion as P2P is treated. They will simply claim that it's "common knowledge" that most users of that service are involved in some type of shady business. It really pisses me off, but it seems that these days if you show that you are trying to hide anything, you are pretty much presumed guilty of something.

Re:Worried, maybe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28356475)

I think its more like you noticed a bundle of rope, a sleeping/unconscious kid, and a shovel in the back of their car as you were helping on the tire. Sure it might be coincidence, but in this day and age the probability points otherwise.

Re:Worried, maybe. (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#28356847)

"I think its more like you noticed a bundle of rope, a sleeping/unconscious kid, and a shovel in the back of their car as you were helping on the tire."

While that would certainly raise concern in most people seeing that....I don't believe anything in the circumstance you mentioned, would make the person that sees it legally bound to do or report anything, even if something DID happen later.

Re:Worried, maybe. (4, Funny)

Trahloc (842734) | more than 5 years ago | (#28357235)

I use to spend vacations with my family and sleep in the back of the truck while driving across country. In the back of this truck there was bundles of rope (never know when you'll need it), shovels (ditto), and an unconscious kid (driving thousands of miles made me sleepy when I was 8). I don't see anything wrong with that.

Re:Worried, maybe. (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#28356727)

Hell, if I help out a guy with a flat tire who happens to proceed to rape a child, am I guilty of aiding a pedophile?

If you help a guy in a costume-shop janitor uniform change a flat tire on a white van over the road from a school, then there's a good chance you are. There are still legit reasons for the guy to be in this situation (maybe he's just been hired as the janitor?) but there's enough reasonable doubt to be suspicious.

I'm not saying it's right that you could be punished for either of our scenarios, but you must admit that the primary purpose of darknets is sharing of material that is criminally punishable for whatever reason. No-one bothers with darknets just to download music or movies, even when doing so opens you up to a potential lawsuit. They bother when whatever they're up/downloading will send them to jail. In countries with abusive governments, political dissent fits in that category, but in the U.S. along with most 'western' countries, you're quite welcome to shout whatever the hell you want on the street corners and the government will only move against you if you threaten to kill someone. So in western countries the only real motivations for using darknets are paranoia or kiddy porn.

Re:Worried, maybe. (1)

Gotenosente (1496667) | more than 5 years ago | (#28356997)

So in western countries the only real motivations for using darknets are paranoia or kiddy porn.

One thing to consider is that nothing is as good at exposing the arbitrary and superficial nature of the borders between nations than a network of people communicating freely across the globe. What I'm getting at is that, yes, for me in 'States I probably don't need to worry about the powers that be knowing about my rather quotidian usage of the Net. However, it's not entirely unlikely for me to be in communication with someone in a nation that isn't so free, and can't feel safe communicating with me by any other means.

Re:Worried, maybe. (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#28357943)

Good point! I think that 'freedom arbitrage' (if you can call it that; the trading of information between two jurisdictions, one of which allows the information and one of which outlaws it) is probably one of the very few valid reasons (from a government point of view) to use secure / untraceable communications. That said, it only works if you're in the jurisdiction that allows the information that you're trading. The problem is that, unless international philanthropy becomes far more widespread than it currently is, it still won't be remotely as prevalent as avoidance of 'moral police' laws.

Re:Worried, maybe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28357221)

No, because there are plenty of legit reasons why a guy would be driving around in a car.

You mean a van, right?

If smth like Opera Unite... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28355739)

If something like Opera Unite or Azureus jump on this particular privacy/security bandwagon, then you will have gazillions users on the darknets doing the same non-pedophilic things they do.

It would be very hard to push the case for dealing in child porn.

I don't understand the technology correctly, but if it's anything like Freenet or i2p you only would carry the porn bits ocasionaly, that is, at random, because you are just a carrier for something you don't even know what it is because it's encrypted to your eyes and system. Pushing a court case like that is fucking crazy. Just throw away Western civilization for the last 200 years...Well, Bush tried...

Re:Worried, maybe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28356281)

For the same reason that they haven't used this rational to defeat p2p in general. Because in the USA, what you are describing will never hold up in court. All it takes is a couple of technical experts willing to point out the fallacy, and the whole case falls apart. Further, I think your tin foil hat may be on just a little too tight.

Re:Worried, maybe. (1)

BountyX (1227176) | more than 5 years ago | (#28357313)

In this situation, I think you would be considered an ISP/content provider, because others are connecting through you. That means they would have to serve you a DMCA notice first. This is currently the protection leveraged by Tor exit node operators, it has worked for me so far. If you were actually liable for facilitating the spread of pedophilia, it would be a legal can of worms, since the ISP would be liable, etc. If such liability existed the internet would collapse under it's own weight because it would be too much of a liability to provide content. Think about it, if you sent child porn through gmail to your friend, then google would be liable for 'facilitating the spread of pedophilia'. Gmail type service, furthermore, the internet, cannot, or would not exist under those circumstances.

Iran? China? (2, Insightful)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#28354245)

Is anyone in Iran reading this right now? OK, don't respond but do pass it on to your friends.

Ditto China.

Re:Iran? China? (3, Funny)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 4 years ago | (#28354479)

How about Germany? Britian?

Re:Iran? China? (1)

GaryOlson (737642) | more than 5 years ago | (#28356295)

How about Detroit MI?

Good (4, Insightful)

timpdx (1473923) | more than 4 years ago | (#28354247)

Now get it out to the protesters in Iran and spread it in China for that matter.

Talking in secret (2, Insightful)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 4 years ago | (#28354403)

I'm not sure how much use it is for people to talk in secret. They probably do that now, with family etc. As we can see in Iran right now, it takes people to have the guts and will to take to the streets and make their feelings known before things change.

Re:Talking in secret (4, Insightful)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 4 years ago | (#28354747)

Talking in secret in advance helps them to take to the streets at the same time and in the same place.

Re:Talking in secret (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 4 years ago | (#28355215)

Exactly.

If you take to the streets in ones and twos, it is extremely easy for the powers that be to pick you off as you pop up. However, if you can get a group of a thousand together, it's a lot harder for the powers that be to make them all disappear without anyone else asking questions. For example, we still talk about Tienanmen Square today.

Re:Talking in secret (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 5 years ago | (#28356687)

Tiananmen square is probably why we don't see massive protests in china today.

The government there proved it wasn't afraid to use lethal force to get its way.

Not surprising -- browsers are basically OSes (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28354295)

I'm not surprised that this functionality is able to be implemented. Essentially, Web browsers are operating systems that not just parse HTML and render that, but pass a lot of items off to subsystems to execute, such as Java, Flash, Google Gears, or other plugins.

Re:Not surprising -- browsers are basically OSes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28354577)

Microsoft realized that early on, which is why Explorer was integrated into Windows in the first place. And it's also why they're fighting to try to keep IE on top.

Re:Not surprising -- browsers are basically OSes (3, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 4 years ago | (#28354673)

Microsoft realized that early on, which is why Explorer was integrated into Windows in the first place. And it's also why they're fighting to try to keep IE on top.

No, Netscape and Sun realized that early on, which is where the concept of browser plugins, JavaScript, and ultimately, Java come from. Then they started wagging their tongues about it rather than sit there and quietly implement stuff (ala Google), so Microsoft.moved to "cut off their air supply" (direct quote from a Microsoft memo used as evidence in their antitrust case) by integrating Internet Explorer into Windows.

Re:Not surprising -- browsers are basically OSes (1)

anarche (1525323) | more than 5 years ago | (#28357911)

I'm not surprised that this functionality is able to be implemented. Essentially, Web browsers are operating systems that not just parse HTML and render that, but pass a lot of items off to subsystems to execute, such as Java, Flash, Google Gears, or other plugins.

Um, no. Browsers are nothing like operating systems. More like interdependent programs..

You mean? (3, Interesting)

bigattichouse (527527) | more than 4 years ago | (#28354313)

So legitimate users in Iran or China might be able to hook into a darknet that has a portal to the real world outside? Kinda like good old packet HAM radio used to.

Re:You mean? (2, Interesting)

grassy_knoll (412409) | more than 4 years ago | (#28354491)

If I'm reading TFA correctly, wouldn't that require access from inside Iran/China to a HTML 5 based browser outside of Iran/China?

I like the concept, but similar to Iran shutting down SMS service [trend.az] it seems possible at least this could be disrupted.

Re:You mean? (2, Insightful)

jefu (53450) | more than 4 years ago | (#28355179)

Short of shutting down the network a nicely distributed service could be very tough to disrupt. And while communications to the rest of the world are undoubtedly important, for the Iranians right now, internal communications are likely to be much more important.

Re:You mean? (1)

MentlFlos (7345) | more than 5 years ago | (#28356459)

Kinda like good old packet HAM radio used to.

mmmmmmmmmmmmmm, ham ::drool::

Bad Guys (5, Insightful)

aaandre (526056) | more than 4 years ago | (#28354351)

Of course secrecy is attractive to bad guys. Problem is according to current legislation we are all bad guys, always crossing some obscure irrelevant law we don't know about.

So one man's secrecy is another man's privacy and protection from overreaching criminalization.

Oh, and anything you write or view on the internet, say over the phone, purchase, sms about, dial on your phone, etc. is saved and archived forever, by default, unless you make a special effort to enforce your right of privacy. Even that special effort does not guarantee protection and furthermore, that effort is not difficult to notice, and boom, you are someone with something to hide, i.e. one of the bad guys.

War is peace. Doublegood peace.

Re:Bad Guys (4, Informative)

plover (150551) | more than 4 years ago | (#28354509)

And don't forget that just because you think it's safe doesn't mean that it actually IS safe. Check out the BlueCoat proxy [bluecoat.com] , which is a corporate web proxy/filter that also works on SSL connections (via man-in-the-middle attack.) All your company has to do is drop their own root certificate on your machine, and unless you're in the habit of checking the sites providing your signature, you may never spot it. (Fortunately Firefox displays the certificate's site name next to the padlock icon.) There's also nothing stopping a corporation from installing a key sniffer or remote observation software on their equipment, which includes your desktop.

Just in case you were thinking that you were "safe" blowing whistles on a darknet at work.

I guess the "Post Anonymously" box isn't going to help me now anyway.

Re:Bad Guys (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#28354679)

Fortunately Firefox displays the certificate's site name next to the padlock icon.

Out of the box yes. I don't know about the one which the IT department ships. Posting from an ubuntu system I installed myself using an ISO I downloaded at home.

Re:Bad Guys (1)

Wingman 5 (551897) | more than 4 years ago | (#28355593)

Any computer you have lost control over is unsafe. Treat a corporate/school issued computer the same as you would treat a random computer you sat down at in a coffee shop. You don't know what has been done to it so don't do activities that require sensitive information or anonymity.

Re:Bad Guys (2, Informative)

OpenGLFan (56206) | more than 5 years ago | (#28357341)

I guess the "Post Anonymously" box isn't going to help me now anyway.

I know it's an offhand comment, but it already doesn't help you. /. still stores who you are; you can't moderate and post in the same story, even if you checked "post anonymously."

Re:Bad Guys (5, Informative)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#28354941)

I have something to hide. It's called my private life and it's nobody's business. Not yours, not some company's and most certainly not my government's.

I think it was Franklin who said, if the people fear the government, it's a tyranny, if the government fears its people, it's liberty. I think the US (and a good portion of the rest of the planet) would need a few leaders like the founding fathers of the US. If they could see what came to their dream, what they fought for, died for and had others die for, I think they'd get fed up enough to start over.

Corporations and Consumers (2, Interesting)

castrox (630511) | more than 4 years ago | (#28355121)

In case you didn't notice, the latest trend is that there are Corporations and Consumers. You are probably part of the Consumer segment and so a product of Society and can be sold to the Corporations.

That's where we're headed people!

Re:Corporations and Consumers (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#28355573)

Heading? We're there already. Just because it can get worse doesn't mean it ain't bad already.

Re:Bad Guys (1)

anarche (1525323) | more than 5 years ago | (#28357949)

I have something to hide. It's called my private life and it's nobody's business. Not yours, not some company's and most certainly not my government's.

Really, and what do you do in your private life?
Watch illegally dl'd movies: someone else's business
Smack your children a little too hard: somebody else's business Do I need to go on?

I think it was Franklin who said, if the people fear the government, it's a tyranny, if the government fears its people, it's liberty. I think the US (and a good portion of the rest of the planet) would need a few leaders like the founding fathers of the US. If they could see what came to their dream, what they fought for, died for and had others die for, I think they'd get fed up enough to start over.

"I had the best laid plans since the start of America" - Robert Smith

I do agree that we need better leaders in the western world.

The "boundary" between the good and bad guys is (1)

Klistvud (1574615) | more than 4 years ago | (#28355247)

an artificial one. The main job of every efficient government is to make us ALL feel guilty and scared. In other words, to make us all "bad guys", so they can legally go after us and manipulate us at will.

The efficiency of a government is strongly related to the number of citizens it perceives as the "bad guys", such as "copyright violators, patent infringers, software pirates, tax evaders, road speeders, people parking wrongly, walkers on grass, flashers, hackers, elevator farters"... The more categories of such "outlaws" a government can come up with, the more efficient it is.

Modern governments have become quite cunning in that they will consistently deny all that: they will explicitly assert that they are furthering feelings of pride and civil courage as opposed to feelings of guilt and fear, and they will try to hide behind memes such as "rule of law" or "democracy". But words are easy. We should always judge them by their deeds.

Re:Bad Guys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28355811)

Many of the people who seek political power go into that job as they wish to gain power over others and all that power brings them. Power is the power to control others. So its no wonder these power seekers apply that same thinking to the Internet and every other aspect of life. They want to be in control. Therefore the people in power fear any information spread which undermines their chances to hold onto power.

The people in power don't care about individuals, they care about groups of people moving together. Because groups of people can stand up against political power. Also groups of people can make other people listen to them and so the groups can grow ever more powerful (if not acted against, undermined and ultimately divided). That's why the people in power use divide and conquer tactics to sow ideas of division in groups because fragmented groups are less powerful to stand against them. So they target core people in groups to discredit and appear to undermine to then fragment groups.

Which brings us to the core problem. The Internet has the power to bring groups of people together like never before in history. Therefore freedom of thought on the Internet is a direct threat to the people in power. Everyone in power, in every country. Not just police state countries. All people in power don't actually want like minded people to form into groups of people and when they do they want to monitor the groups to then be ready to undermine the groups if they need to. These groups can (and do) threaten the power grabbing schemes of the people who seek ever more ways to gain power for themselves. (Here's a good starting point to find more info on the whole (often hidden) field of political tactical undermining called "Opposition Research").
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opposition_research [wikipedia.org]

1984 was a cautionary tale about the true nature of power. Most people don't seek power, so its a cautionary tale for most people. But for the minority of people who are so driven to seek power over other people; they don't need an instruction manual. Their core psychological behavior defines why they behave the way the do. People who seek power over others, almost by definition seek to control other people, so they seek to remove choices from the people they gain power over. They don't actually want a fair world. They tell us its for our own good to help us. But its not, its to help them. They personally gain at the expense of others as they gain ever more control. These people don't want fairness and equality. They want to be in power and fear others being in power over them.

Ultimately the political elite are ending up showing us all how relentlessly driven they are to seek power for their own personal gain. So the more they clamp down on people the more they reveal their deep need for power over others and the more they make everyone ever more angry at them because they get controlled ever more. Its happened throughout history, but the people in power now have the ability to clamp down on opposition views like never before.

The control they have now is nothing compared with where the world is going in even just the next decade. We are certainly coming to the end of people leaking info on government corruption. For example, Imagine a few years from now when they can use automated profiling and data mining software to monitor and warn the people in power when anyone lower in chains of authority use words the people in power decreed are not to be allowed to use online or even just say on office phones. Soon after it'll be applied to us all. It doesn't even need to be perfect profiling. It simply needs to be warnings (or even just the treat of monitoring to silence critics). Soon people will not be able to speak openly about their thoughts and views online. Its already happening in the UK. For example within the past few months a nurse was fired for blogging about mistakes in managing the health service and even today a police detective was punished, silenced and his blog deleted because he dared to blog about the way policing is being forced to change in the UK. The people in power find ways to silence critics in any way they can. A favorite tactics is to get people on not enough taxes payed, but then tax law is so complex and wide enough in definition to use to imply whatever the people applying the rules want it to sound like and in doing so, they make life harder for the people who speak out and they make it sound like the people speaking out are evil wrong corrupt people who break laws so don't believe them. Its all part of the game of undermining political opposition.

Anyway, here's the police detective news story today on the BBC.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8103731.stm [bbc.co.uk]

Knowledge is power. The Internet is knowledge. Therefore control of the Internet is power.

Re:Bad Guys (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 5 years ago | (#28356541)

I'd have to say you got your tin foil on a little tight. The sheer volume of information you claim is being archived would be impractical to impossible to keep, even with storage space prices plummeting. You really think they are so out to get you that they are spending trillions to record everything forever? Sure it is stored temporarily. It has to in order to get it to you, but logs and cache gets flushed unless there is a reason to keep it.

Re:Bad Guys (3, Interesting)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 5 years ago | (#28357709)

I don't think you have thought that through enough. What is your basis for your claim of it being impractical? Remember, we went to the Moon. I would think that was the definition of impractical at the time. However, if you can disregard the conspiracy theories, we actually did step foot on a soundstage, I mean the Moon.

Storage capacity? There are plenty of examples of extremely large storage arrays at universities and data centers that did not cost anywhere near "trillions" of dollars to build and construct. 500 million dollars would be enough to construct a data center with a few Exabytes of storage at today's prices. Let's say $100 per Terabyte. $200M worth of hard drives would get you 2 Exabytes of non redundant storage capacity. Using an appropriate RAID setup you could even gain redundancy and lose less than 10% of that storage space. You got $300M left to build the rest of the data center. It's possible. Just Google for news about Exabyte data centers being constructed.

Take a phone conversation for example. Let's say 2.5 kB/s is the data rate. If a person talked 16 hours a day, that would put them at a 144 MB storage capacity per person per day. Let's just assume 250 million people a day are talking. That would put it at 36,000 Terabytes of storage. I know that sounds big, but that's only a few percent of a *single* Exabyte. A data center with multiple Exabytes could store weeks worth before filling up.

Now of course why would you even want to keep RAW data? You wouldn't. Let's convert it to text instead. You could assume about 130 words per minute spoken on average, which should be pretty conservative. Assuming Unicode text, with no compression, an average word length of 10 characters (twice the real amount?), that would take you from 144 MB per person per day, to......... 2.5 MB per person per day. That's quite a reduction right there. Now we only need ~625 Terabytes to store the text of every single voice conversation every day.

Hmmmmm. It's starting to seem like that $500M data center is capable of storing quite a few years worth of transcripts. About 9 years worth to be exact. So let's say...

60 MILLION DOLLARS PER YEAR.

That's it. Just for voice transcripts. Even if I am off by a whole order, that is only 600 million dollars per year. A far cry from your "trillions" of dollars estimate is it not?

I don't even think you would need the transcripts either. Not all of them. Analyze them for keywords, context, blah blah blah and you can start to keep databases of relationships between people and categorize them based on the content of their speech. The information just became more valuable, and a lot more CONDENSED.

Now let's say it costs ten times that to analyze SMS, purchase records, blogs, etc. We are still a far cry away from your impractical threshold.

Put simply, Google, Yahoo, MS, are already in the business of working with that much data and processing it.

BUT, BUT, BUT WHY?

That's the real question. Would the government, the big bad government, even be interested in a database that had relationships, political and religious views, spending patterns, movement patterns (grocery store, then the bank, etc.)?

I think the answer is yes. Either in the guise of security, protecting the children, defeating the terrorists, defeating the communists, defeating some sort of 'ism, there is a continual pressure to provide these "tools" to government. I don't think "tin foil hat" arguments are going to cut it much longer.

Clearly it's possible on a technical basis to store and process this much information, and at least in other governments, there is clearly the desire and motivation to use such abilities.

but logs and cache gets flushed unless there is a reason to keep it.

Do you know that for a fact? Everywhere? DNS records from local ISP's are VALUABLE. Targeted advertising is a big thing right now. Don't forget commercial motivations to store data. It's tempting too, and has nothing to do with tin foil hattery. Slashdot has all my posts.

The Telecoms rolled over and gave it up for the intelligence community on demand. They won't even get in trouble for it. So why would it be so impossible to believe they would not keep giving phone records and SMS texts over to the government on demand? I don't think that is unreasonable to believe. Maybe it is not happening it, but it is plausible. Your position is they could not use it effectively because the data is too vast to deal with it.

Consider VISA, MasterCard, Discover, AMEX, etc. How impossible is it to believe they are not allowing direct access to their records by government intelligence agencies. Can you say it with absolute confidence that they are not? I can't. There must be tremendous pressure to access that data.

I would suggest you do your own math on this, because it is becoming quickly apparent that it is not only possible to do it, but it is becoming more economical all the time. There is evidence as well that there IS concerning lapses in our privacy in the last couple of years on a large scale.

Sounds like it uses a centralized web server? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28354361)

FTA: "It connects the user's HTML 5-based browser to a single PHP file[...]"

0.7.5 of FreeNet? Pah! 0.7.4 of I2P is better! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28354363)

Sod it - I've got karma to buuuurn!

(Ok I checked the anon button...)

BUT seriously folks, I've been using I2P [i2p2.de] for a year now (just upgraded to 0.7.4 seconds before I read this post) and it blows the crap out of FreeNet for sheer speed and ease of use. Just make sure to have a lot of RAM on your machine and crank the bandwidth up real good. The more the give, the more you get!

HTML5 (3, Interesting)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 4 years ago | (#28354365)

Which browsers (please include note if it's beta) support HTML 5?

Re:HTML5 (3, Informative)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 4 years ago | (#28354579)

None that I know of, but Firefox, Safari, Chrome, (and Opera?) should have rudimentary support for parts of it, like the video tag, and the canvas tag.

Not that I know if that's what they're referring to though.

All major browers today have very poor HTML 5 support though. It's still not even a finalized standard.

Re:HTML5 (1)

Celeste R (1002377) | more than 4 years ago | (#28354677)

Which browsers (please include note if it's beta) support HTML 5?

Opera has supported it the longest; the newer (or newest) versions of Firefox and Chrome are also supporting most (if not all) of it.

IE is falling far behind, but that may change with the release of their next version.

Re:HTML5 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28357129)

Strangely enough, it seems that Opera, too, is falling far behind in HTML5 support. No video! (That old experimental build doesn't work with the current spec.) It's very disappointing. Or are they just holding back for the release of v10?

Re:HTML5 (4, Informative)

tholomyes (610627) | more than 4 years ago | (#28354861)

Here's the details on which browsers support what parts of the new features of HTML5 thus far: http://www.quirksmode.org/dom/html5.html [quirksmode.org] .

According to quirksmode, it appears that Safari 4.0 has the most complete support, followed by FF 3.5b and IE8. Chrome and Opera do not appear to, at least as far as supporting the new features is concerned.

Re:HTML5 (3, Informative)

tholomyes (610627) | more than 4 years ago | (#28354881)

Also note quirksmode's caveat:

"The compatibility information above is only for the HTML5 features I tested; they do not necessarily say anything about the browsers' overall HTML5 support. The number of tests will slowly expand."

Re:HTML5 (1)

miruku (642921) | more than 5 years ago | (#28355617)

"While the entire HTML 5 standard is years or more from adoption, there are many powerful features available in browsers today. In fact, five key next-generation features are already available in the latest (sometimes experimental) browser builds from Firefox, Opera, Safari, and Google Chrome. (Microsoft has announced that it will support HTML 5, and as Vic noted, "We eagerly await evidence of that.") Here's Vic's HTML 5 scorecard:

http://radar.oreilly.com/upload/2009/05/html5.png [oreilly.com] "

http://radar.oreilly.com/2009/05/google-bets-big-on-html-5.html [oreilly.com]

But what about the quality? (1)

jd (1658) | more than 4 years ago | (#28354443)

I'd (almost) rather use a darknet built over SMTP than use Freenet, which is horribly, horribly, painfuly, agonizingly sloooooow!

TOR, to me, seems to be about the right sort of level of speed and security. I know of no obvious problems with it (other than you can't use applets that call home). This is not to say it's perfect, or that people shouldn't do research, but if there is a benchmark that systems should reach or exceed, I'd consider TOR to be the one to beat, not Freenet.

There are other overnets and underlays which, if you added encryption and randomized routing, would become darknets. Very interesting stuff and very useful in this paranoid age.

v-- (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 4 years ago | (#28354565)

v-- people below will point out that Tor provides no security but group anonymity.

Re:But what about the quality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28355395)

A huge percentage of the Tor exit nodes out there are run by government organizations.

Re:But what about the quality? (2, Interesting)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#28356893)

This is my worry about things like Tor - as I understand it, the anonymity is provided by bouncing encrypted packets between nodes, and is predicated on the nodes not collaborating. As soon as you have one entity running N nodes, any request for any bounce length less than N becomes a simple client-server transaction and the server (probably Government-run) has a good chance to know what the client is downloading. Can anyone more qualified comment on this?

Easier is better (3, Insightful)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 4 years ago | (#28354449)

If its easier to use, you will definitely see more people using it who are legitimate. Tor and other darknets are a pain in the ass to use, and they clearly have a larger proportion of people using it for more nefarious purposes. The reason is simple: they *need* to use it because they are bad guys. Good guys, unless they fully comprehend the threats against them, are less likely to go to the effort. Hopefully this works out and is secure. It would be a big plus for people who don't want to deal with the hassle, not to mention, they don't want instantly incriminating software on their machine. My guess is that the Chinese and Iranian government minders don't like you if they see you getting your hands on anything like a Tor/Freenet software package.

Re:Easier is better (2, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#28354981)

Defining "good" and "bad" in this day and age ain't so simple anymore. A lot of "good" guys break the law.

Someone blogging about human rights in China? A bad guy, according to the Chinese government. Someone writing instructions how to use your hardware in the way you want it and not in the way its manufacturer wants? A bad guy, according to pretty much any western government. Someone telling people how to circumvent internet filters? A bad guy, in pretty much any government's eyes.

Any of those guys "bad" by your definition?

Re:Easier is better (1)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 4 years ago | (#28355117)

"Good" guys need to use it too, they just don't know why yet.

Late April Fools' joke? (2, Interesting)

castrox (630511) | more than 4 years ago | (#28354589)

Is this a late April Fools' joke? How does this supposed system work? It seems there must be a hosted PHP file somewhere - that server needs to have logs, at least if it's inside the EU and however you slice that you're toast.

Basically it seems to work sort of like a BitTorrent tracker that directs your client to other clients. So by what mechanism do you choose who to include in the "net"? If I understand correctly you sort of create channels for different purposes or groups. By using a introductory key? And how do you communicate that key? By encrypted e-mail? So any agencies that listen in on you very easily can see who you communicated with prior to your request for so and so domain holding the darknet PHP file? And how tough is that encryption? Ordinary SSL?

It connects the user's HTML 5-based browser to a single PHP file, which downloads some JavaScript code into the browser. Pieces of the file are spread among the members of the Veiled darknet. It's not peer-to-peer, but rather a chain of "repeaters" of the PHP file, the researchers say.

Spreads the file onto multiple peers? Is it possible for this file to run out of entropy in any way??

Re:Late April Fools' joke? (0, Troll)

jhfry (829244) | more than 4 years ago | (#28354765)

You have this many questions and then ask if it's a "late April Fools'" joke?... You realize you look like an ass now right. Lose the snarky comments, get your questions answered, then spew away about how bad of an implementation it is... until then you look stupid.

I bet people said similar things about all kinds of revolutionary technologies that they knew nothing about... and they have all since eaten their words. You just set yourself up to be one of those people if this is indeed everything they suggest it could be.

Oops, tripped on the wire (1)

castrox (630511) | more than 4 years ago | (#28355063)

Gosh, I just see a fair many obstacles to this tech which has many similarities to other systems (judging by the many references to other similar systems in TFA) and thus doesn't sound very revolutionary. But this one is browser based, so I guess, as TFA points out, it lowers the barriers to entry to a darknet. To me, this sounds like what it's about. Just click the link and be one with the dark side? Otoh the question is how it's supposedly used.

I admit I may look like an ass, but unless you've been hiding under a stone lately you'll have noticed that anything having to do with browsers and built-in tools is the shit of the century. So I guess my bullshit-o-meter gave a red reading. For some reason I'd rather like a solution below the application layer, so I can use all protocols while being anonymous. But we have that already. Almost at least, TOR has exit nodes that can easily be hosted by Bad Men.

Another interesting tech is OneSwarm, but it's not browser based and so not revolutionary.

i allready have a darknet (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 4 years ago | (#28354595)

just ctrl alt backspace and type in lynx :D

Re:i allready have a darknet (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 4 years ago | (#28354767)

Hmm, just asking for a password. And my keyboard doesn't seem to be working any more. Stupid Ubuntu.

Re:i allready have a darknet (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 4 years ago | (#28354841)

Well enter works... I don't get this stuff at all.

combined with Opera Unite! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28354627)

So, according to The Fine Article, you need to share a PHP file between members of the ephemeral darknet. Now, where did I read about sharing files between peers easily???.... Yes, of course, it was Opera Unite, released just today! Plus Opera 10 supports HTML 5.

So Opera Unite + HTML5 + this technique = immediate and easy darknet

Much easier that setting up TOR if you asked me.

AC

Attractive to bad guys? (2, Informative)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | more than 4 years ago | (#28354685)

The researchers admit darknets are attractive to bad guys, too

So is encryption. So is privacy. So are knives. So is food. So is living another day. It's not wrong just because it can be used to ill ends.

Or, to be all profound and Latin and stuff: abusus non tollit usum.

Re:Attractive to bad guys? (2, Funny)

hansraj (458504) | more than 4 years ago | (#28354865)

I was going to fiercely argue against all that you wrote, but your punchline was in Latin so now I have to agree to every word you say!

Re:Attractive to bad guys? (1)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 4 years ago | (#28354995)

Pants. My favorite example is pants. Many crimes are very hard to commit without pants.

Re:Attractive to bad guys? (1)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 4 years ago | (#28355145)

Rape?

Re:Attractive to bad guys? (1)

nausea_malvarma (1544887) | more than 4 years ago | (#28355171)

Not all crimes require pants. What about streaking?

Re:Attractive to bad guys? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28355187)

Many crimes are committed by criminals who take off their pants, therefore, we should make it harder for everyone to remove them!

Re:Attractive to bad guys? (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#28355485)

Dihydrogen monoxide [dhmo.org] is the correct answer.

Tomatoes are way more dangerous than darknets (3, Funny)

Rick Bentley (988595) | more than 5 years ago | (#28355775)

Ninety-two point four per cent of juvenile delinquents have eaten tomatoes.

Eighty-seven point one per cent of the adult criminals in penitentiaries throughout the United States have eaten tomatoes.

Informers reliably inform that of all known American Communists ninety-two point three percent have eaten tomatoes.

Eighty-four per cent of all people killed in automobile accidents during the year 2004 had eaten tomatoes.

Those who object to singling out specific groups for statistical proofs require measurements within in the total. Of those people born before the year 1850, regardless of race, color, creed or caste, and known to have eaten tomatoes, there has been one hundred per cent mortality!

In spite of their dread addiction, a few tomato eaters born between 1850 and 1900 still manage to survive, but the clinical picture is poor-their bones are brittle, their movements feeble, their skin seamed and wrinkled, their eyesight failing, hair falling, and frequently they have lost all their teeth.

Those born between 1900 and 1950 number somewhat more survivors, but the overt signs of the addiction's dread effects differ not in kind but only in degree of deterioration. Prognostication is not hopeful.

Exhaustive experiment shows that when tomatoes are withheld from an addict, invariably his cravings will cause him to turn to substitutes-such as oranges, or steak and potatoes. If both tomatoes and all substitutes are persistently withheld-death invariably results within a short time!

The skeptic of apocryphal statistics, or the stubborn nonconformist who will not accept the clearly proved conclusions of others may conduct his own experiment.

Obtain two dozen tomatoes-they may actually be purchased within a block of some high schools, or discovered growing in a respected neighbor's back yard! - crush them to a pulp in exactly the state they would have if introduced into the stomach, pour the vile juice into a bowl, and place a goldfish therein. Within minutes the goldfish will be dead!

Those who argue that what affects a goldfish might not apply to a human being may, at their own choice, wish to conduct a direct experiment by fully immersing a live human head* into the mixture for a full five minutes.

* It is suggested that best results will be obtained by using an experimental subject who is thoroughly familiar with and frequently uses the logical methods demonstrated herein, such as:

(a) The average politician. Extremely unavailable to the average citizen except during the short open season before election.

(b) The advertising copywriter. Extremely wary and hard to catch due to his experience with many lawsuits for fraudulent claims.

(c) The dedicated moralist. Extremely plentiful in supply, and the experimenter might even obtain a bounty on each from a grateful community.





THE DREAD TOMATO ADDICTION Mark Clifton This essay originally appeared in the February 1958 edition of Astounding. The dates in this version have been modified (all dates plus 50 years).

Very Useful (3, Interesting)

jefu (53450) | more than 4 years ago | (#28355125)

Currently to do shared chat/video chat/audio/documents... most systems are dependent on servers of one sort or another. Making something that could work on a more peer-to-peer level would be very useful indeed as it would help alleviate (though probably not entirely eliminate) the reliance on servers that are often under someone else's control. If you doubt the usefulness of this, just look at what is happening in Iran right now.

Let me know... (1)

actionbastard (1206160) | more than 5 years ago | (#28355681)

When it works with lynx.

Small-P2P-clouds have arrived (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28355821)

You guys seen Opera Unite? It's kinda like that I think. The only parts missing are the crypto design.

The point being that darknets and p2p small-clouds are here. They are here.

What will The Powers That Be do? Outlaw html? Outlaw crypto? You can't. Crypto is mathematics. There's no way you can outlaw math or science. Unless they want the Middle Ages back - and some politicians in Europe (particularly UK and Germany) and the US would like that very much.

What worries me is the well-meaning politician (who doesn't want to protect children, right? Or people against terrorism?) who is a moron in tech terms and thinks such things are feasible. No they aren't. Unless you take my right to write (source code, maths, etc.)

But beware. Knowledge is to be outlawed in the near future. They have tried this before with Phillip Zimmerman's PGP. They will do it again.

HOW? (2, Informative)

rosvall (672559) | more than 5 years ago | (#28356477)

Since there are zero details in TFA, i'm just going to speculate that one of three things is going on, in order of increasing probability:
1. HTML 5 creates all sorts of fantastic new ways to communicate anonymously through a central server. In that case, please fill me in. In genuinely interested.
2. The researchers have implemented something like the dining cryptographers protocol in js and php.
3. TFA is utter bullshit

A Seriously Important Requirement (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 5 years ago | (#28356737)

A seriously important requirement for any darknet is the ability to conceal your IP address from the other participants. I don't yet see how that happens here.

Dark reading indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28356947)

I had to turn off the stylesheet to be able to read TFA. That site is broken in all browsers except IE. And they want to be HTML5 advocates?

fuck a fUcker (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28357103)

If you Have [goat.cx]

Cool (1)

guliverk (1566849) | more than 5 years ago | (#28358045)

Cool !!11!!
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