According to the German news source Heise, the European Police Congress (the largest conference for internal security in the European Union) recently called for the banning of the darknet (Tor) in “liberal democratic states”. This should, as I will explain, terrify practically anyone who claims to want a free and democratic society.
According to DeepDotWeb:
“During this 22nd Congress meeting, it was agreed that dark web activities should be banned in member states of the European Union. This action, they say, will help prevent online related criminal offenses which have been rising alarmingly since the advent of the dark web. These include drug trafficking, human trafficking, human smuggling, smuggling of weapons, identity theft, credit and debit card theft, cyber-attacks, and murders. Some of these illicit businesses have become so big that they form cartels or massively organized drug rings…
Günter Krings, the Parliamentary State Secretary of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, demanded during the opening ceremony that the use of the Tor browser be forbidden in the union. This is because it forms a platform for illegal activities and makes it harder for law enforcement to track offenders.”
According to Heise, the parliamentary State Secretary Günter Krings said at the congress:
“I understand why the Darknet can have a benefit in autocratic systems. But in my opinion there are no legitimate benefits in a free, open democracy. Those who use the darknet are usually up to no good. This simple insight should also be reflected in our legal order.”
It gets worse.
“Krings was followed in the opening ceremony by Wolfgang Sobotka, President of the Austrian National Council. He praised China for not having any inhibitions and successfully ignoring data protection laws when analyzing citizens. His statement that there is a human right to political asylum, but no human right to asylum for economic or social reasons, fit into the picture he drew.”
On the one hand, the European Police Congress claims there is no legitimate use for a darknet in “liberal democratic states”, in a “free and open democracy”, on the other hand, at the same congress, these “champions of national security and public safety” praise the Chinese police state for systematically violating the rights of its own people, for being unbound by the law or public accountability in spying on and scrupulously analyzing ordinary Chinese citizens. Here Krings refutes himself and his own friends. We are quite open in our view that the threat to freedom and democracy comes not from individuals on the “darknet” but from people like Krings himself!
It need not be said that the overwhelming majority of people who use Tor, who use darknets, even in “liberal democratic states”, are not criminals. We at Red Liberty host our platform not only on WordPress, but on Tor, I2P, Freenet and ZeroNet (practically all of the widely used “darknets”) because we have a minority of readers in authoritarian countries, and because some of our readers, the freedom loving people they are, don’t think it’s anybodies business what they say, read, think and do.
What can be said of this European Police Congress? It is perhaps the most fascist minded thing to happen in Europe since the Second World War. We can have only absolute disgust of such absolute blatant ignorance as this, that is the only just response to what these authoritarians have said. What ignorant, frightful, fear-mongering jackals! Do they not realize that a free and open darknet is one of the reasons they don’t have an “autocratic system”? Such a thing keeps people like Krings in check! It is the load-bearing pillar of a genuinely free society in our current epoch. Remove it and you open up the possibility for free society itself to collapse. A free society has to allow for extralegal natural liberty to exist in order to genuinely protect civil liberty, in spite of the well known and universally hated abuses of that freedom. While the two do contradict one another in some ways, you have to be able to go around the legal system when one’s own individual conscience, mightier than all the written laws in the world, bounds it to do so in the overall interests of a free society. No one can or should be able to determine the legitimacy of one’s own conscience, that is precisely what’s so laudable about it.
If the member of a European intelligence agency or military finds out the organization he works for is breaking the law, acting unethically, violating human rights, or acting contrary to the will of the people, and at the same time such a person is bound by oath or sworn to secrecy on pain of extreme punishment, what mechanism is there for us to report such happenings to the public without serious jeopardy to life and limb? Outside of the “darknet”, we find in our present society that there are practically none. I cannot fathom a greater danger to the existence of free society, apart from turning the key to tyranny itself, than this appalling proposal to “ban the darknet”.
People, be vigilant! Anonymity is the ultimate expression of freedom, the ultimate means to even speak of truly free speech, free thought, free opinion. What better prerequisite to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of thought is there than privacy, than the right to be anonymous? In light of this danger we must sound the alarm bells. Hackers of the world, Unite! The light of liberty is waning, we shall not see it dim without a fight! Till the restless scourge of power unjust is upon us, and even then we shall not go quietly into the night!