BBC Horizon: Inside the Dark Web

Twenty-five years after the world wide web was created, it is now caught in the greatest controversy of its existence : surveillance


With many concerned that governments and corporations can monitor our every move, Horizon meets the hackers and scientists whose technology is fighting back. It is a controversial technology, and some law enforcement officers believe it is leading to risk-free crime on the dark web — a place where almost anything can be bought, from guns and drugs to credit card details.

The first aspect of the conversation examined by the film is Britain’s GCHQ — The Government Communications Headquarters — which is a federal security agency whose mission statement reads “[The Agency] is constantly working to keep Britain safe and secure in the challenging environment of modern communication.” The reason cited in the film as being the sole one the public has any knowledge of the agency’s existence is because Edward Snowden leaked the information in his infamous documents.

Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited as the inventor of the Internet itself, explains that he sees the dangers being presented as the World Wide Web develops over the time. He makes the point that we have to understand, in regards to surveillance, that it is not people that are monitoring our internet activity in the initial tiers of these security agencies’ efforts — it is computers, or the algorithms housed on them, that flag behavior designated as worth looking into further and then alert human security officials that perhaps there is reason to delve deeper.

The film’s focus turns from government surveillance to that being conducted by commercial entities — big business acquiring as much information as it can about your search, traffic, and interest-related habits that allow them to target paid advertising into the path of your digital trailblazing for products that you just might be willing to hand over some of your hard earned money for. The aforementioned government agencies often acquire this information for their own monitoring purposes as well.

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