The dark web is known to be the cybercriminal hub where a variety of illegal products ranging from cyberweapons to drugs can easily be purchased by anyone. However, not everything on the dark web is related to illegal activities. There is now a dark web version of Wikipedia, which even users in Internet-censored regimes can reportedly use without the fear of the being surveilled and/or persecuted.
The experimental dark web Wikipedia service is the brain-child of former Facebook security engineer Alec Muffet. At present, however, the project is unofficial and Wikipedia is not involved.
Wikipedia has already reportedly officially made its site available to users via Tor. However, to browse this official service, a user's traffic will have to exit the Tor network, making the user's traffic unencrypted. This, in turn, leaves users potentially vulnerable to surveillance.
Motherboard reported that the dark web Wikipedia service can also be accessed via Tor. Muffet reportedly created an onion service for Wikipedia on Tor, to ensure that users' traffic is protected within Tor's encryption. This means that users in authoritarian regimes that censor online content and activities will be protected from being surveilled by the government.
"Onion sites are considered to be about 'anonymity', but really they offer two more features: Discretion (e.g.: your employer or ISP cannot see what you are browsing, not even what site) and trust (if you access facebookcorewwwi.onion you are definitely connected to Facebook, because of the nature of Onion addressing)," Muffett told Motherboard.
"The code is free and libre," Muffet added. "I am doing it because it's worth doing."
The dark web Wikipedia service is currently read-only since Wikipedia blocks editing the site over Tor. However, increased interaction with the service will reportedly require Wikipedia's involvement in the project.
"I'd like to demonstrate the experience to people, so it's no longer something abstract," Muffett told Motherboard. "I'd be delighted if Wikimedia use this, or even roll their own solution; the important thing from my perspective is to demonstrate the concept, and my open-source EOTK tool makes it nearly free to provide such a proof of concept."
Motherboard reported that Wikipedia continues to be blocked in Turkey after it was first blocked by the government during the 2016 attempted coup. Wikipedia editor Bassel Khartabil, a Syrian-Palestinian digital activist, is reportedly believed to have been executed by the Syrian government shortly after he disappeared in 2015.