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Pioneered in 2002 by the US Navy for protecting government communications and soon adopted by techies across the world, the Tor software system has built a reputation as the “dark internet” – an ungoverned and seemingly ungovernable space where web users can surf with complete anonymity.But as whole companies could be operating from one address, calculating the true usage is impossible.
As the Government calls for Google and other major web companies to block “harmful” content and online links to child pornography and extremist material, fears have been raised that increased policing online is pushing users towards the proxy, which obscures the identity of both users and the sites it hosts.After downloading a Tor browser, which gave him “deep web access, which search engines like Google don’t access”, and entering a numerical address “which can be found pretty easily online”, he found himself on Silk Road.“You sign up like any other site: username, password, etc, and that’s it, you’re there,” he said.That is why the Government is convening a round-table of the major internet companies, and demanding that more is done.”But one computer security consultant, who spoke on condition of anonymity, explained that when an online service was taken away, people were pushed underground.“Following Government collusion with record companies and copyright holders to crack down on file-sharing copyrighted material, users were led to using networks like Tor previously only used by computer geeks and people seeking out illicit material. The people who are targeted by this type of legislation will spend hours and go to every effort to seek out material.”A UK-based blogger who uses Tor for both his writing – so that anything he writes can’t be traced, making him immune to extended online libel laws – and to host a forum on internet security, said that people who have increasing concerns over how their personal information is used were turning to proxy sites like Tor.
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