Should the "Dark Net" be shutdown?

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Whether it be child abuse imagery, the purchase of illegal narcotics, or planning an assassination, a growing amount of the world's criminal activity takes place on a part of the Internet known as the "Dark Net"--a realm only accessible via special browsers that allow users to surf the web anonymously. A survey commissioned by Canada's Centre for International Governance Innovation, Waterloo, Ontario, and conducted by global research company Ipsos across 24 countries finds that 71% of global citizens "agree" that the "Dark Net" should be shut down.

If this realm truly embodies the seedy underbelly of the Internet, then why do 29% of respondents think it should not be taken down? The answer may lie in the desire of global citizens to preserve the anonymity and benefits that are a central part of the Dark Net. 'The anonymity of the technology of the Dark Net cuts both ways--while people can use the network for villainous purposes, people can also use it for good," points out Eric Jardine, CIGI research fellow. "Despite public opinion, shuttering anonymity networks is not a viable long-term solution, as it will probably prove ineffective and will be costly to those people who genuinely benefit from these systems."

Adds Fen Hampson, director of CIGI's Global Security & Politics Program and codirector of the Global Commission on Internet Governance. 'The opinions expressed by global citizens on the Dark Net, a...

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