Who are you programming for?

We are all familiar with the surface web and even if you are not familiar with the term you have at least participated in it, else you wouldn’t be reading this. The surface web is that part of the internet where everyone with an internet connection can access without any trouble or any special tweaks, like Facebook, Twitter and mostly everything you can find via Google, Bing or Yahoo. Then, what is the deep web?

The deep web is that part of the internet which isn’t indexed by any search engine, meaning you would never get to a certain website by just searching for it via Google. Then comes the interesting part known as the “dark web” the place where drugs, guns and even worse things are sold like if it was amazon if you know how to search for it. The playground for pedophiles and other sick people searching for things you wish didn’t exist.

As a developer, should you be interested in participating in projects like Tor or developing sites for the deep web? If you had the chance, would you be the next Dread Pirate Roberts and follow up with the Silk Road Project, not for winning money but for making a point on privacy and making the internet a free place? Or maybe just to prove that you are smarter than hundreds of agents trying to find you?

The Silk Road Webiste.

There are millions of websites on the dark web and by doing a simple search and inspecting the websites you can see that they are made using your everyday tools, hitman websites made using bootstrap or materialize, drug stores made using your common ecommerce techniques, the thing here is that most likely the hitman didn’t do his own website, then who did it?

There are sites hiring for programmers that can only be accessed via Tor and they don’t really care about your identity or anything else, actually if you tell them who you are then you won’t to be hired; They will hire you if you prove that you are capable of doing the job and it all starts with making your application as untraceable as possible, showing them some code or portfolio that can’t link back to you.

To this point nothing seems so wrong at all, but then the ethical part starts. Once hired you may be asked to do some general programming and to develop a website for “ecommerce” for example, but then would you just develop it without knowing what is going to be sold using your code? How would you react if you found out your amazing admin page to upload “products” is being used to upload organs, drugs, guns or something even worse?

And to this matter we can add many more scenarios, how about being asked to make a simple “YouTube” where users are able to upload their videos and share them on an easy way over the deep web. If you are a little familiar with it you would know that child pornography is an everyday thing over the deep web, at least I would be a little suspicious about this kind of tasks.

But not everything is made with bad intentions or for illicit content, there are many deep web sites that have good purposes such as keeping your identity secure or sharing content without people knowing who is the source. Just to keep out of the radar of maybe your government or other organizations that do not want some information out for the public, because the one doing something wrong in this case wouldn’t be you.

That is the case of WikiLeaks for example, a site that tries to make everything more transparent by exposing governments and other organizations cover ups, doing it without all the initial tools that WikiLeaks used (starting on the deep web) would mean that they might send someone to beat you or even worse, maybe to kill you, but by doing it this way you know you are safe.

So in the end we need to know that what we will be doing will have a great impact on others people life, then the problem relies on recognizing which harm your code will make and how it will impact on others, will it make pedophiles happy by making a great video sharing system? Or will you be exposing a president that ordered the murder of thousands of children? Maybe you will be helping censored journalists to publish their articles or share vital information in some country? It’s up to you!

Choose once, but choose wisely.

Once you take your side, start coding.

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References:

Forbes: Insider trading on the dark web.

Ross William Ulbritch — Dread Pirate Roberts.

What is the deep web? — CNN Money.

What is the deep web and how to access — Quora.

Tor — Overview.

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