Remember that Time when the Swedish Government Funded Darknet?

Remember that time when the Swedish government funded Darknet? Yeah, with the US Navy.

Darknet, the part of internet which is more lawless than the rest. Where you can get your contract killers, drugs, untraceable credit cards, human organs, guns… you name it. Sounds like a good party. Like something that would be found on an outpost asteroid in a sci-fi movie. Also sounds like the opposite of government business.

Here is a fun art project: Random Darknet Shopper. They gave a bot bitcoins and sent it shopping on Darknet. It bought stuff like passports, ecstasy, viagra-clones, knock-off designer wear and a baseball cap with a spy camera. That’s the stuff you can get on Darknet. Fitting name!

Law enforcement is understandably frustrated. Darknet runs on a virtually untraceable technology called TOR. That is short for The Onion Router, it works by relaying traffic through a number of different nodes, just like the layers of an onion. If you manage to trace one IP-number, you will find it is only a proxy for the next, and so on. In theory, law enforcement or somebody could work its way through all the relays, but in reality it’s too hard.

“So what?” you may think. “This is just typical of the internet, some hackers in love with the anarchist mythology.” Sure, but it started as research by the US military, more precisely an arm called the Naval Research Lab. And the Swedish government co-funded TOR through its international aid agency(!) SIDA, with the purpose of supporting freedom activists in authoritarian countries. Sounds nice. Not sure what they say about the blank credit cards and stolen cars, though.

Can I be a fly on the wall at the Xmas party where the prosecutors and the international aid people get together, please?

With this, Netopia says Merry Xmas. You know where to shop for gifts, courtesy of the Swedish tax payers.