BBC plans to get dark web-friendly, will make news available to readers via Tor browsers – Economic Times

The Tor Network, the preferred software for anonymous communication, has for long been upbraided by critics for enabling black market dealings in illicit goods made in cryptocurrencies. But with many countries regulating information on the internet, news is gradually becoming an illicit commodity in those geographies, prompting publishers to establish a presence on the dark web to cater to their audiences.

The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) has reportedly zeroed in on Tor as a friendly platform to counter censorship. Britain’s state broadcaster announced last week that it will host its website for Tor users by putting out a “dark web copy” accessibly on Tor browsers. The rationale behind the move is that readers around the world ought to be able to access new stories where information is censored.

The BBC has a long history of being at the receiving end of censors’ ire, especially in countries like China, Iran, and Vietnam. According to the news agency, these countries have attempted to block users from viewing or reading their stories. The BBC’s homepage will be available on the Tor web address – bbcnewsv2vjtpsuy.onion.

“The BBC World Service’s news content is now available on the Tor network to audiences who live in countries where BBC News is being blocked or restricted,” the company explained in a statement. “This is in line with the BBC World Service mission to provide trusted news around the world,” the statement read.

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A cyber heist last week resulted in the theft of USD 40,000-worth of Bitcoin from Russian-speaking users.

Tor is open-source software that supports private browsing. However, it has been used to mask the identity of those who use it, thereby circumventing surveillance operations, which are usually state-controlled. But the relative advantages offered by Tor have been misused by malicious actors trading in narcotics, guns, hardware for nuclear proliferation, and other contraband.

Hackers have also tasted success in exploiting the blind spots in the underlying code of the Tor browser to steal Bitcoin from users and exchanges. Examples are manifold. A cyber heist last week resulted in the theft of USD 40,000-worth of Bitcoin from Russian-speaking users. This was achieved by implementing malware into a version of the Tor browser to track user activity and steal cryptocurrency.

Tor has a mixed reputation – it is the darling of free-speech advocates, and demonised by law enforcement agents. Despite Tor’s links to criminal groups, the software’s roots are inextricably tangled up with the United States government. Tor was designed by U.S. Navy researchers, and continues to get funding from the State Department. According to the BBC, most of its users are either members of the “law enforcement” or “military” categories.

The international edition of BBC’s website will be made available to users surfing the dark web using Tor browsers. However, due to “broadcast rights” issues in its domestic market, the BBC will give a miss to stories pertaining to the United Kingdom.

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