The so-called Dark Web is innocuous and is considered as a haven for criminal activity for those wary of the prying eyes of law enforcement and government agencies. It’s objective is to hide the identities of the users who visit them and operators of websites.
However, the Tor Project, a non-profit that maintains a privacy-minded web browser that is responsible for maintaining the Tor anonymizing network in one of the most shocking blogs has claimed the FBI paid Carnegie Mellon University security researchers atleast $1 million to reveal the identities of Dark Web users. The Tor Project is best-known for Web browser software, which is widely used to cruise the Dark Web.
The Tor Project wrote in a blog post that the academics made changes to some of the technical protocols used to obscure peoples’ locations and crafted an attack. Their work reportedly swept up data about a vast number of users, allowing the FBI to later accuse some of them of crimes.
Indiscriminately targeting so many users “is a violation of our trust and basic guidelines for ethical research,” the blog post stated.
“Civil liberties are under attack if law enforcement believes it can circumvent the rules of evidence by outsourcing police work to universities. If academia uses ‘research’ as a stalking horse for privacy invasion, the entire enterprise of security research will fall into disrepute.”
Nor did the FBI or the Carnegie Mellon University immediately respond to a request for comment.
It all started early last year with an attack on the Tor network. The attack reportedly began in February, after its instigators created more than a hundred new relays on the Tor network in late January, and ran until July 4th, when the team discovered the vulnerability. This is the same time period for which the FBI’s source provided IP addresses of dark web sites, as well as apparent users.