Some adults are afraid of the dark. Even more are afraid of the Dark Web.
Seven out of 10 people favor shutting down the anonymous online network, according to a report commissioned by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and conducted by Ipsos.
Of the 24,143 people polled in 24 countries, more than a third said they “strongly agree” that the “dark net should be shut down.” Another 35 percent agree “somewhat.”
Researchers explained to participants that the Dark Web, usually accessed via Tor, can help protect human rights activists, dissidents under oppressive regimes, and whistleblowers. It also noted that the anonymous network helps hide underground marketplaces that sell illicit items. And while responses varied by country, a majority of people armed with this information showed solid support for boarding up the dark net.
Indonesia took the lead with 85 percent support, followed by India, Mexico, China, and Egypt—all 79 percent or above. Sweden, South Korea, and Kenya tied at 61 percent for last place, and the U.S. settled in the middle at 72 percent support.
Still, it probably won’t happen. “Despite public opinion, shuttering anonymity networks is not a viable long-term solution, as it will probably prove ineffective and will be costly to those people that genuinely benefit from these systems,” Eric Jardine, CIGI research fellow and Dark Web expert, said in a statement.
What about the 29 percent of people who believe the Dark Web should remain online? Why do they support it? “The answer may lie in the value global citizens place in retaining anonymity and privacy in the face of concerns over surveillance, censorship, and government control,” CIGI suggests.
ProPublica in January became the first major news organization to launch on the dark web, bringing its non-profit newsroom to Tor users via propub3r6espa33w.onion.
In late 2014, Facebook launched a version of its website for Tor, allowing folks access to a more stable form of the social network at facebookcorewwwi.onion.
Still, the service gets a bad rap: Law enforcement officials often argue that it helps criminals and terrorists hide from authorities. The tech community, meanwhile, pushes back, defending the network (and similar encryption tools) as essential to protecting global digital security and online privacy.