FBI And CMU Both Denied The $1 Million Payment – Carnegie Mellon University recently issued a statement to deny allegations that the FBI paid it a million dollars to unmask the Dark Web. The Tor network made these allegations; it is the primary method used to access the Dark Web. However, CMU said that the university’s software engineering Institute is a federally funded research and development center. It is tasked with the duty to research and identify network and software vulnerabilities. The Institute receives most of its funding from the Defense Department. It did admit that it has been issued with Federal Subpoenas to give details about its research.
A Threat to the Fourth Amendment
According to the Tor Network blog, this is a blatant attack on the rights of citizens. The Blog adds that it would have been nearly impossible for the FBI to get a valid warrant to unmask IP addresses. Most likely, the institute pretended to be conducting independent research while they were, in fact, acting as a proxy for the FBI. A founder of the Tor network expressed shock at the craftiness of the FBI. According to him, this could lead to a worrying trend where users have no rights at all in future.
The trend is also worrying since the attack on the Tor network does not appear to have been pinpointed. Instead, it appears to have been a general dragnet that undoubtedly led to innocent bystanders being caught up in the intrusion. For the founder to go on record with such a statement, they must be in possession of some very strong evidence.
What Exactly Is the Dark Web?
This is a part of the web that is not indexed by regular search engines. In order for a web page to appear on your browser, Google needs to have a link of it stored in their massive library. However, this is not always the case; some web pages cannot be indexed because they violate the legal guidelines of Google. Dark web is a part of the internet in which online users can browse and access websites not found on the normal internet anonymously. However, it has grown in popularity with criminals who want to perpetrate illegal activity. It is thus conceivable that the FBI would want to access the dark web by any means possible.
Tor Patched Up the Breach
Tor claims they have already repaired the security breach that allowed CMU to access user privacy. The FBI has been very cagey about what is going on. They have refused to give a clear statement. They gave an ambiguous statement, which stated the claim of million-dollar payment was inaccurate.
The claims by Tor need to be weighed in light of recent events. The university first fell under suspicion when it pulled a presentation from the Black Hat Conference in 2014. Two of its researchers were supposed to present fndings on how to break Tor. Soon afterwards, the FBI made their famous arrests. In addition, court papers for one of the accused revealed that the FBI had traced them through university research. This trend is quite worrying for the future of online privacy. Although, there are criminal elements on the Dark Web, there are also innocent bystanders. These accusations come only a short while after Snowden exposed the government’s extensive privacy invasion program. There are those who feel that Snowden’s expose threatened national security. There are also those who claim there are other ways to investigate crime without violating people’s rights. However, until Tor can present concrete proof, these claims will remain a mystery. In the meantime, Tor is working towards improving its network security.