I’ve just heard for the first time about Tor, the anonymity network which allows users to browse the web in complete anonymity, free from surveillance from anyone who might be monitoring their comings & goings, messages, sites visited and wahtever else they might be doing in cyberspace. It does this by routing traffic randomly through relays provided by a volunteer network, adding layers of encryption like an onion skin (hence the the term “tor” as in The Onion Network). Because of this freedom from surveillance it is, not surprisingly, very popular with those who would rather no-one knows what they’re doing on the net, including spies, criminals, whistleblowers and the terminally paranoid. It also allows access to the so-called Deep Internet, the 96% of the web that is not visible to ordinary browsers and is allegedly home to various nefarious activities including drug trafficking, child pornography and subversive politics, even terrorists and killers for hire. Since I’m not terminally paranoid and I really don’t care who watches where I go on the web (good luck to them, they’ll risk death by chronic boredom.), I don’t really find this sort of thing personally necessary, but the idea of a subterranean network is fascinating. It sort of conjures up the feeling we all had back when the Web was new and everything you found while surfing was fresh and exciting, and we all felt very subversive while doing it, it’s a feeling that just doesn’t exist anymore with the now ultra-commercialized Web.