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August 17, 2006

Darknet Rising

A dark night is a criminal's best friend.

A "darknet" service that allows users to share music files anonymously on the web has been launched in Sweden.

Relakks, as the service is known, allows users to send and receive files through a heavily-encrypted connection.

It is the first commercial example of a darknet, a virtual network set up to share files between trusted users.

The service is endorsed by political group the Pirate Party which is running for election in Sweden under a banner to reform the country's copyright laws.

"There are many legitimate reasons to want to be completely anonymous on the internet," said Rickard Falkvinge, chairman of the Pirate Party.

"The right to exchange information in private is fundamental to the democratic society. Without a safe and convenient way of accessing the internet anonymously, this right is rendered null and void."

The people who are always the biggest on anonymity and privacy are the criminals. The potheads, the hackers, the childporn guys.

(Oh, and the conservative bloggers, too.)

Let's just say their absolutist political beliefs just coincidentally dovetail nicely with their criminal or near-criminal behaviors.


A darknet is a cordoned-off, anonymised section of the net where users can meet, chat and swap data.

Usually darknets are confined to small tight-knit groups such as hackers who use the secure connections to distribute information and hacking tools.

They have also been used by paedophiles to distribute images of child abuse.

Many are invitation-only services where potential members have to upload material to prove themselves to the group before they are granted full access.

Like the Mafia. Kill a guy to prove you're one of them, and not a cop or informant.

On the other hand, when a government is itself criminal, this is a hell of a handy innovation:

Similar identity-hiding tools such as Tor are used by net dissidents in countries like China to avoid persecution for their activities on the web.

Unfortunately, the Chinese dissidents' activities are mostly concerned with sending pirated avi's of pornstar Carmella Bing back and forth. "Democracy is nice and all," a dissident calling himself only "Jiu" said, "but lordy, look at the rack on this one. And she's not just dirty. She's filthy-dirty. I'm not even sure if half of the stuff she's doing is actually even sex."

Cleaning Up: It's a cold night, not a dark one, that is said to be a policeman's best friend, but close enough.

The whole thing at the end about "filthy-dirty" and "not even sure if it's sex" is an homage (i.e., direct swipe) from David Spade's character on Just Shoot Me.

Thanks to George.


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posted by Ace at 10:55 AM

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