The desire of U.K. Prime Minister, David Cameron, to ban online encryption and anonymity has been dismissed as unacceptable and technically “unfeasible” by some parliamentary advisers. According to a report, issued by the British Parliamentary Office of Science and Tech. (POST), a policy banning encrypted anonymity networks like the Tor Network is simply not an acceptable option. The report was issued by POST sequel to David Cameron’s request for all forms of online anonymity to be banned so that law enforcement agencies can effectively monitor illegal activities online.
Frequently, anonymity networks like Tor, (originally designed by the U.S. Navy), are criticized because of their use by criminals for illegal activities like trading in hard drugs. Several online black markets such as the notorious Silk Road, Alpaca, Hydra, Pandora and the more recent Evolution Market are used for drug and other illicit dealings. Tor currently has at least 100,000 active users online who are resident in the United Kingdom.
More Indecent Child Images are on the Open Web
However, the POST report indicates that anonymity networks are not always dominated by services of criminals as many government agencies will like the public to believe. A division of U.K. National Crime Agency said that Tor Hidden Services (THS) only play a small role in the viewing and circulation of indecent child images. Surveys taking by Internet Watch Foundation in 2013 showed that only 36 hidden services on Tor contained such material as opposed to over 1,620 domains found on the surface web through popular search engines. Tor has fewer offenders in this particular area due to the relatively slow speed at which such materials can be downloaded on Tor.
Tor Has Good and Positive Uses
This report acknowledges that Tor has several positive uses. It helps law enforcement agencies that are involved in transferring sensitive information to mask their activities. This network also provides an anonymous platform for whistle-blowers and journalists. Apart from this, computer experts believe that a legislative attempt to exclude Tor from being used in the U.K. will be technically infeasible.
Nevertheless, several sites like the Evolution Market, which are used to conduct illegal activities like selling of hard drugs, seem to be growing in strength. Since Silk Road 2.0 was successfully taken down by U.S. authorities in 2014, Evolution Market has become the largest darknet marketplace. Transactions in the Evolution Market are conducted using bitcoins, which are kept in their escrow account to minimize fraud among sellers and buyers. Evolution Market has been more reliable than others and has managed to remain online despite concerted efforts to shut it down.