Watching Down the Deep Dark Web, the same week that I came across The Hour of the Furnaces (Argentina 1968), made me think about how the subversive role that was the raison d’etre of many documentary films has increasingly been supplanted by the internet.  Down The Deep Dark Web  explores ways in which the internet can be used to communicate secretively, while The Hour of the Furnaces, which revealed  the horrors of the Argentinian dictatorship, is an example of a film that was   made secretly in an attempt to support a resistance movement. People were arrested for making it; others  for screening it.

Instead of underground film screenings we now have an underground region of the internet, suggests  Israeli journalist Yuval Orr,  who takes us on a journey to meet people who use the internet  for covert activities as well as others who try to stop them .

I have to admit that even though I am a daily visitor to numerous  websites,  I didn’t realize that there is a huge reservoir of websites that  Google and other search engines can’t reach.  To enter the  hidden  world of the  Dark Net, Orr explains,  you simply  download an app called Tor. Once connected,  because of the way data is dispersed among numerous computers, you may now interact with others in complete anonymity. Your location and identity cannot be traced — or at least, that is what many believe.

Not surprisingly, many Dark Net operators come from the criminal world: drug dealers, child pornographers, money launderers, terrorists  and contract killers.

As Orr reviews  this dark side of the Dark Net, he takes us to a hitman  website that advertises   a sliding scale for killing different types of people. He is insulted when he  sees that the going rate for knocking off a journalist is $65,000. “What? Is that all I’m worth?” he asks, with  the self-deprecating humor that accompanies much of his on-screen narration.

But it is the bright side of the Dark Net that Orr really wants  us to learn about. He introduces us to  Smuggler and a group of other masked people that he meets  at a clandestine conference in Prague. Smuggler is a  self-proclaimed crypto-anarchist, a sort of geek-social activist hybrid. He and his colleagues refuse to divulge their real names and cover their faces to offset facial recognition technology.  Smuggler exhibits a microchip he is working on, one of many technologies crypto-anarchists are developing to ensure that people can access the internet in complete privacy – without “Big Brother watching them.”

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