In the coming decade, the Dark Web may become even easier to access than it is at present.
Many blockchain start-ups are planning to create new decentralised alternatives to the web services we use today. This concept is called the Web 3.0. Projects like Storj, Status, and Substratum all aim to make internet storage faster, easier and, most importantly, uncensored.
The team behind Substratum aims to create a completely decentralised, crypto-based web hosting system. The project replaces individual servers with hundreds of nodes which can be run by anyone. These ‘Network Members’ earn a currency called ‘Substrate’ by hosting website files on their computers, which is paid to them by website owners.
The decentralised nature of this internet protocol means that the Substratum network could become host to a new dark web; ‘The Dark Web 2.0’. A dark web powered by this protocol would be faster, more resistant to attacks and more anonymous.
Substratum have not specified anywhere on their website that their protocol is to be used for ‘dark’ activities, but on their GitHub page, I found this: ‘[Substratum] is a worldwide collection of nodes that securely delivers content without the need of a VPN or Tor.’ This quote heavily implies that the team understands the dark applications for their network and don’t seem to mind (fingers crossed!).
Substratum has raised $13.8 million. The team has recently released an open beta of the technology.
Storj Labs intends to create a decentralised cloud storage system. Their website boasts improved loading times, slashed prices, and immutability. Anyone can rent additional hard drive space on their computer to users of the Storj system. Stored data is encrypted to everyone except the person paying.
Anybody can store any data they want on a system which is impossible to censor. In addition, no one can read or understand that data without an encryption key which is only given to the publisher. This might create a dark cloud storage system – a ‘Dark Dropbox’, if you will, on which anyone can store any data in a format impossible to delete or trace.
Storj Labs have raised $35.4 million and are currently in their third testing stage.
Status is a crypto-powered messaging app. Using Ethereum to transfer messages between users, it is impossible to control or censor by a single party. All messages are encrypted and travel over a number of Ethereum ‘Decentralised App’ nodes.
This means you can send messages over the network safe in the knowledge that no eavesdropper could ever read them. The messaging platform cannot fall victim to government pressure (unlike anonymous email provider Lavabit, which had to close under pressure from the U.S. government).
Status is currently live with thousands of users, and you can use it today for free.
This ‘Dark Web 2.0’ sounds too good to be true, so what’s the catch?
None of these projects aim officially to create a dark web, but rather intend to make a new alternative to a particular part of the Clear Web. The Dark Web application of these projects isn’t intended by their creators – it’s just a lucky side effect.
These projects are heavily reliant on funding and confidence in their cryptocurrency. A dark web application of these projects could cause investors to lose confidence or the currency to dive in value. This might potentially lead to the whole project to collapse.
If these projects do succeed, however, they would massively shift how dark web activities are carried out. Through these projects, data can be made more secure and more anonymous, plus government control over information will be made almost impossible. I personally hope to see these projects succeed, and you should too.