A web of proxies, shifting domains and member only websites. A darknet refers to any closed, private group of people communicating; however, since 2002 the term has evolved to more specifically refer to file sharing networks in general, whether that network is private or readily accessible to the public. The phrase "the darknet" is used to refer collectively to all covert communication networks.


Originally coined in the 1970s to designate networks which were isolated from ARPANET (which evolved into the Internet) for security purposes, darknets were able to receive data from ARPANET but had addresses which did not appear in the network lists and would not answer pings or other inquiries. The name is derived or related to the term black box, which meant a system or device whose contents were unknown.

The term gained public acceptance following publication of The Darknet and the Future of Content Distribution, a 2002 article by Peter Biddle, Paul England, Marcus Peinado, and Bryan Willman, four employees of Mickeysoft.

The Mickeysoft researchers argued that the presence of the darknet was the primary hindrance to the development of workable DRM technologies. The term has since been widely adopted and seen usage in major media sources, including Rolling Stone and Wired, and is also the title of a book by J.D. Lasica.


When used to describe a file sharing network, the term is often used as a synonym for "friend-to-friend" -- both describing networks where direct connections are only established between trusted friends. However, "darknet" is also commonly used in a broader sense to describe any private file sharing network. The most widespread file sharing networks, such as Kazaa, are not true darknets since peers will communicate with anyone else on the network. Popular darknet software includes Nullsoft's WASTE and Freenet. The current version of Freenet, unlike typical darknets, claims to be capable of supporting potentially millions of users using an application of small world theory.


Crypto-anarchism expounds the use of strong public-key cryptography to bring about privacy and freedom. It was described by Vernor Vinge as a cyberspatial realization of anarchism. Crypto-anarchists aim to create cryptographic software that can be used to evade prosecution and harassment while sending and receiving information in computer networks. Timothy C. May wrote about crypto anarchism in Cyphernomicon: What emerges from this is unclear, but I think it will be a form of anarcho-capitalist market system I call "crypto-anarchy."

Using such software, the association between the identity of a certain user or organization and the pseudonym they use is difficult to find, unless the user reveals the association. It is difficult to say which country's laws will be ignored, as even the location of a certain participant is unknown. In a sense, the encrypted anonymous networks (the "cipherspace") can be regarded as an independent lawless territory or as an autonomous zone. However, participants may in theory voluntarily create new laws using smart contracts or, if the user is pseudonymous, depend on online reputation.

One motive of crypto-anarchists is to defend against surveillance of computer networks communication. Crypto-anarchists try to protect against things like telecommunications data retention, the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy, Room 641A and FRA among other things. Crypto-anarchists consider the development and use of cryptography to be the main defense against such problems, as opposed to political action.

A second concern is evasion of censorship, particularly Internet censorship, on the grounds of freedom of expression. The programs used by crypto-anarchists often make it possible to both publish and read information off the internet or other computer networks anonymously. Tor, I2P, Freenet and many similar networks allow for anonymous "hidden" webpages only accessible by users of these programs. This helps whistleblowers and political opposition in oppressive nations to spread their information.

Thirdly, the technical challenge in developing these cryptographic systems is tremendous, which interests some programmers into joining the projects.

Crypto-anarchism and lawsEdit

Crypto-anarchists argue that without the ability to encrypt messages, personal information and private life would be seriously damaged. A ban on cryptography is equal to the eradication of secrecy of correspondence. They argue that only a draconian police-state would criminalize cryptography. In spite of this, it is already illegal to use it in some countries, and export laws are restrictive in others. Citizens in the United Kingdom must, upon request, give passwords for decryption of personal systems to authorities. Failing to do this can result in imprisonment for up to two years, without evidence of other criminal activity.

As processing power increases, this legislative key-surrender tactic can be circumvented using automatic rekeying of secure channels through rapid generation of new, unrelated public and private keys at short intervals. Following rekeying, the old keys can be deleted, rendering previously-used keys inaccessible to the end-user, and thus removing the user's ability to disclose the old key, even if they are willing to do so. Technologies enabling this sort of rapidly rekeyed encryption include public-key cryptography, hardware PRNGs, perfect forward secrecy, and opportunistic encryption. The only way to stop this sort of cryptography is to ban it completely — and any such ban would be unenforceable for any government that is not totalitarian, as it would result in massive invasions of privacy, such as blanket permission for physical searches of all computers at random intervals.

To truly enforce a ban on the use of cryptography is probably impossible, as cryptography itself can be used to hide even the existence of encrypted messages (see steganography). It is also possible to encapsulate messages encrypted with illegal strong cryptography inside messages encrypted with legal weak cryptography, thus making it difficult and uneconomical for outsiders to notice the use of illegal encryption.

The usage of strong cryptography and anonymizing computer networks makes it difficult to detect any trespassing of the laws.

Plausible deniabilityEdit

Crypto-anarchism relies heavily on plausible deniability to avoid censorship. Crypto-anarchists create this deniability by sending encrypted messages to interlinked proxies in computer networks. With the message a payload of routing information is bundled. The message is encrypted with each one of the proxies and the receiver public keys. Each node can only decrypt its own part of the message, and only obtain the information intended for itself. That is, which node is the next hop in the chain. Thus, it is impossible for any node in the chain to know anything else but the previous and next node in the chain or what information they are carrying to the receiver as those parts of the information are hidden. The receiver also does not know who the sender is, except perhaps by another destination, digital signature or something similar. Who originally sent the information and who is the intended receiver is considered infeasible to detect. See onion routing for more information.

Thus, with multiple layers of encryption, it is effectively impossible to know who is connected to any particular service or pseudonym. Because summary punishment for crimes is mostly illegal, it is impossible to stop any potential criminal activity in the network without enforcing a ban on strong cryptography.

Deniable encryption and anonymizing networks can be used to avoid being detected while sharing illegal or sensitive information, that users are too afraid to share without any protection of their identity. It could be anything from anti-state propaganda, reports of abuse, whistleblowing, and reports from political dissidents.

Darknet and AIEdit

The Artificial Intelligence machines are changing the face of computing period. These aware nets are capable of making Human like decisions at computer like speeds. Thus far the only defense against AI intrusion has been another AI, or hard isolation.

If any connection to the public net exists on your darkenet they can ferret out out. Darknet defense AI has been less than successful, in two cases turning on it's own makers.

The AI community itself may possess a private darknet. No one has been about to break into communications between the AIs and it clearly is taking place.

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