SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — The open source network that allows sites to exist on the so-called “Dark Web,” such as the recently shut down Silk Road, started out as a project at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Now the government has something of a love-hate relationship with The Onion Router, also known as Tor. The network allows people to anonymously surf and post on the web.

Among its positive uses, Tor can be used by dissidents in Iran or Syria or anywhere else in the world where people are fighting for freedom or against oppression. It’s a great tool for helping overcome dictators (it was used heavily in Egypt) all around the world. I think our State Department would even smile upon those types of uses.

At the same time, our National Security Agency is very worried about anonymous hacking, about terrorism, and people being in the underground doing devious and criminal things.

This week, agents busted the Silk Road, a $1 billion operation where authorities said criminals used Tor to hide illegal drug purchases and sales. So it’s another case of where you have a tool and it can be used for both good and bad.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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