In the popular imagination, the dark web is the internet’s dimly lit basement — the place where the digital community hides its drugs and child pornography. But the untraceable websites of the Tor network support far more than illicit commerce. Tor users can share photos over a more private version of Facebook, instant-message with friends on anonymous chat service Ricochet, or swap files via OnionShare. And now they can even enjoy the accountability journalism of ProPublica without any risk of being surveilled by the powers the news site holds to account.
On Wednesday, ProPublica became the first major news outlet to launch a version of its site on the Tor network, Wired reports. The initial inspiration for the move came when the outlet was preparing a story on China’s online censorship — a report that would be most vital for those readers least likely to access it on a conventional web browser. With the Tor site, ProPublica believes it can ensure visitors unmonitored access to their journalism — assuming its visitors can find it. According to Wired, it’s not clear how many readers will be able to actually find the Tor version of the site, since ProPublica has yet to decide where it will be advertised.
Even as technology companies and now news services have begun to embrace the network, security agencies are mobilizing against it. After the Paris attacks, French lawmakers even considered banning its use.