First let’s get some things straight. The internet is a system of computer networks, and your computer is also in this network. The World Wide Web (WWW) is a service provided within the internet that makes it possible to create and browse content on the internet. We can differentiate three basic methods of working with this content or three elements of the web.
Surface web = the part of the World Wide Web that is indexed by robots. This means, for example, that you can Google a school’s webpage or a PDF with a presentation from your teachers. While working on the surface web, information about us may be collected. For example, Google knows what we’re looking for, how we use various web pages, and then offers us an advertisement accordingly.
Deep web = the part of the World Wide Web that is not indexed. The reason for this may be a problem with indexing, or the fact that the author of the pages does not allow indexation. We can find ourselves in the deep web when, for example, someone sends us a link, or simply when we’re logging into our email, internet banking, Moodle, or Edupage. Even here, however, information about us may be collected.
Dark web = a part of the deep web which requires special software for a person to connect to it. The content is not indexed here either, but, contrary to the deep web, everyone is anonymous here. This means that if you publish some information or interact with someone here, no one should be able to monitor or track you.
The evil dark web?
Thanks to its name alone, the dark web has the reputation of being a dark place – the underworld of the internet. Thanks to the fact that it’s difficult to monitor, it is a fact that the dark web mediates things like drug trafficking, pornography and other unpleasant things. You can read something about this in the news: Rusové dopadli pachatele první vraždy objednané přes darknet; Nákup konopných drog se přesunul na darknet, uživatelé si vytvářejí zásoby; Protidrogová centrála odkryla prodej drog z Česka přes „darknet“ do celého světa.
The good dark web?
This, however, is just one side of the coin, and it’s very important to consider the other. The dark web provides space for something that, in reality, we commonly see value in – freedom and democracy. The existence of such a space may be fundamental for people who live in countries with an undemocratic regime. Have a look at some of these documentaries on young people in Belarus or a rap group in Cuba.
It’s also important for those who don’t agree with monitoring users by using data on platforms such as Google.
The Tor project
The Tor project is an idea from a currently non-profit organization that operates the Tor (The Onion Router) browser. You can picture it as a Google browser with other functions and based on other principles. Tor is not a gateway to the underworld, and you can find any website from it that you would visit by using Google.
What does the browser promise? Privacy and safety on the internet, i.e. protection against tracking, surveillance and censorship. The browser thus erases your digital footprint (which Google tracks). No one knows what part of the globe you’re connecting to the internet from (while Google knows this exactly).
What is naturally more difficult is searching. You can’t simply use Google on Tor; addresses are transformed, and they look more like this: mlkmdk88.onion than like this: muni.cz. Thus, the disadvantage is that, contrary to Google, it makes the acquisition of information more difficult, and it does not attempt to organize it, as that is impossible in order for it to function.
You can watch this animated video about Tor.