back to article Camgirls, crypto currency and beer: The Register tours the Dark Net

Very few of us, even at The Reg, have spent a year trawling the darkest corners of the internet, getting to know right wing agitators, cryptocurrency zealots, and Yorkshire’s leading Camgirl. Jamie Bartlett did though, and he shared his experiences with a room full of Register readers at our Summer lecture on May 21. He took …

  1. Andy Non Silver badge

    Very interesting talk

    Thanks for posting the video.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you haven't already done so, check out the book - well worth a read (I blew through it in a single sitting) and it illustrates beautifully what a hive of scum and villiany some bits of the Intertubes are, as well as how utterly fucked-up some people are (and we're not just talking about the usual right-wing loons and paedos here, either)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Pain olympics proves that point. I knew how messed up the Web was going to be back in the 90s when you could find a twenty minute video of some dude catching, killing, skinning and eating a house cat. Luckily the cat videos got a bit more friendly as time went on.

    2. Sebby

      Yeah, agreed, definitely get the book.

      Featured on Audible a while back which is how I heard about it. Read quite superbly too in appropriately outlandish accents, for those who have to listen.

  3. nilfs2

    Girls, currency and beer?

    Sounds like my kind of place

  4. nsld


    Really enjoyed that.

  5. fishman


    I wish I could have made it.

  6. Steven Raith

    I concur

    Very interesting for those of us who are aware of the darknet, but haven't dabbled in it - to the extent that I spammed it on social media, which is something I rarely do.

    Shame I missed it TBH.

  7. Old Handle

    Seems like the "Dark Web" label was slightly misleading (though he admitted as much at the start of the talk). Only the drugs part was actually on the on what people usually call the dark web. I could also quibbled with calling Tor a web browser, which isn't strictly true and was even less true back back when it was first invented.

    But all-in-all it was very entertaining and maybe even a little insightful. Good show.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Yeah haven't used it for a long time so don't know today but it sure seemed like some of the shit on Freenet was as dark (both in content as well as buried deep) as anything on Tor. The latency was certainly greater. Its what happens when the only client was written in Java (I keed kinda).

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: darknet

        it sure seemed like some of the shit on Freenet was as dark (both in content as well as buried deep) as anything on Tor

        Of course. Everything new was old already.

        Before the TCP/IP Internet even existed there were distinct categories of content on BBSes and other online repositories, with a range of "locatability", from well-indexed items that were easy to find and mostly relatively uncontroversial, to illegal or offensive material that generally was found only by word of mouth. Many BBS subcultures had materials in various categories - the "txtfile" hack / crack / freak culture is a good example.

        The same goes for the pre-web Internet - even more so, because now there were more participants, faster connections, more storage, and a wider variety of indexing systems (Archie, WAIS, Gopher) that could be manipulated in various ways to produce public and secret repositories.

        Prior to modern IT, of course, there have been secret presses and bookstores and the like pretty much since written language was invented.

        The "dark web" (an obnoxious term, but it's what we're stuck with) is interesting in its particulars, but it's certainly not a new phenomenon in general.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Very interesting

    I found this video fascinating, and has prompted a long debate in my house about the sociological, economic and political impacts of this organic, unregulated space we call the dark web. On one hand we have the free market models that appear to be thriving unhindered by regulations, compliance obligations and government economic policies, which in many ways appears to be the purest form of capitalism I can think of, and on the other hand we see the appetites of society (or a subset thereof) when liberated through the anonymity of tools such as ToR and VPN. It’s a very interesting blend of capitalism and liberalism.

    Examining the dark web from a sociological point of view seems to suggest that when anonymised i.e. free to express without judgement, our laws as they relate to drugs, privacy and sex may not be aligned with the needs of our society. Does this suggest that culture and convention are limiting our behaviours? Much like Jamie Bartlett, I am cannot decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

    One thing I am sure of is that examination on these complex subjects is something that should happen more and Jamie certainly has promoted those debates in my house.

    I do find it interesting that I have also chose to post this anonymously. Maybe that says something about my need for privacy or my concern about judgement.

    Great video, I look forward to reading the book.

    1. Mystic Megabyte

      Re: Very interesting

      "Examining the dark web from a sociological point of view seems to suggest that when anonymised i.e. free to express without judgement, our laws as they relate to drugs, privacy and sex may not be aligned with the needs of our society."

      That reminded me of something that a victim of the WW2 German Nazis said. That the SS were mostly not ideologues but just evil crooks who were suddenly not restrained by the rule of law. They could act with impunity and extorting money was their main goal. I imagine that in any society there are many like that, both men and women.

      For example, that guy in your local pub who for years has wanted to kill someone but is only restrained by the fear of imprisonment and it's consequences.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Very interesting

        Thanks for responding to my comment.

        In part I do agree with your point, social judgement and laws can serve to restrain negative behaviours, but the remote nature of interaction within the dark net does significantly limit these threats you mention, whether it is SS or the guy in the pub, both are going to find it difficult to commit physical violence against me, when my only integration is through anonymised internet contact.

        Now I do see a flaw in my argument here, and that is that the methodology of the evil man or woman could adapt to the remote nature of the dark net to achieve intimidation, however that fundamentally undermines the capitalist model that the dark net has built, and then people would just not use it. Imagine a high street retail outlet that used threats and intimidation of violence to force people to purchase their goods, even if they did not have to worry about the rule of law, they would still go out of business as people would simply avoid that shop. It’s the same with the capitalist model of the dark net. If your customer base walks away, you have no model.

        Furthermore the number of people in prison or on death row, belies the complete effectiveness of laws to moderate behaviour. I am not promoting lawlessness, far from it, however it is interesting that an environment like the dark net has managed to thrive without the imposition of laws and regulation.

        I suspect that society at large would not have a problem if I chose to smoke cannabis in the privacy of my own home (if that were my particular taste), but they will probably be less happy, when to obtain the cannabis, I have to go to a drug dealer working from a street corner, due to the negative impact that drug dealing has on a local community. However when this can be procured from a high quality e-commerce site, the only injured party is arguably the Exchequer, due to the lack of duty being paid on the transaction.

        Safety through capitalism. Now I know this sounds a bit odd, but please remember that the Council of Europe formed in 1949 (a precursor to the European free market) was created specifically as a method to prevent future European wars after WW2, through closer economic integration of nations. Is the dark net not just following this model of commercialism?

  9. A Ghost

    That Parrot...

    ... doesn't look very happy!

    Maybe it's just resting.

  10. DropBear
    Thumb Up


    Enjoyed the video very much (this was way better than a TED talk - and certainly more honest than many of them). Making it possible to 'attend' for those of us who have no realistic chance to do so in person is much appreciated...

  11. Lionel Baden

    interesting point at the end,

    So are we going to blame facebook for reinforcing the bubble ?

    They admitted as such that the world we live in, is generated by our own clicks

    Personally I dont like it, I notice it when i click on posts from my car group, that suddenly that is all I will see for a while, I find it quite frustrating :/

  12. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    Good talk

    Sadly, my computer only seems to connect to the dork web...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sound quality

    A pity this excellent video is marred by poor use of avc at the start, you can hear the background noise welling up every time he stops speaking. Very wearying to listen to, thankfully it improves later.

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