Wikipedia, for all the issues it has, is still an invaluable resource for many people. While it’s true that you should be careful about citing it in a research paper, the site remains a great resource to get a general overview of a topic and find more in-depth resources. In the United States and nations with similar freedoms, we often take Wikipedia for granted, but there are many parts of the world where accessing the site can be very difficult and illegal.
In order to help at-risk users access the site, cyber security expert Alex Muffett has created a version of the website for the dark web accessible by the Tor browser.
— Alec Muffett (@AlecMuffett) November 23, 2017
Tor is a web browser that allows users to browse the web anonymously. It works by bouncing your information through several routers around the world in order to hide your location. In addition to providing anonymity, Tor allows users to access the dark web. While the dark web is used for illegal activities, the service is also valuable for those who live in countries where freedom of speech and access to information is restricted. Beyond that, many legitimate organizations, such as the New York Times, have a presence on Tor.
It is the latter that Muffet’s dark web Wikipedia is meant for. The site is a read-only version of Wikipedia as, in order to deal with trolls, the organization does not allow the site to be edited by the Tor browser.
Currently, the site is not supported by the Wikimedia Foundation, but Muffett told Motherboard that he would be “delighted” if the non-profit used his solution or created its own.
“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.”
The creation of an Onion-supported Wikipedia has been discussed in the past, but Muffett’s is the first version to go live. He said that he would keep it up for a few days as a proof of concept, but it is pretty clear that he would support a more longterm solution.