A dark development


Until about a fortnight ago few people in Pakistan had been aware of or accessed what is known as The Dark Web. The vast majority of those that use the internet globally skate on the surface, and beneath where most of us spend our browsing time there is a place that is home to criminality, corruption — and child pornography, some of it violent. Awareness was raised by Dr Shahid Masood’s claim that the alleged perpetrator of the rape and murder of young Zainab in Kasur was active in the international trade in child pornography hosted by the Dark Web. Interest in Pakistan has spiked and Google has noticed and measured the spike.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Cyber Crime Cell reports that since the broadcast by Dr Masood over 1.3 million Pakistanis have searched for information about the Dark Web in the past week alone. Google Trends is a public service that chronicles and analyses trending searches. Since 2013, Pakistanis have shown almost zero interest in the Dark Web. A single broadcast by a high-profile anchor changed that almost overnight.

With 1.3 million actively interested in the Dark Web the question has to be asked as to the culpability of news anchors and not just Dr Masood revealing information that is likely — indeed virtually certain in this case — of potentiating behaviours in the wider population that is harmful to society. Those that are searching the Dark Web are not going to stop at the front door of a dark space, many will want to go inside and see what is on offer. Some will choose to share what they find and the proliferation of images of the most appalling child abuse will increase exponentially. Editorial control of garrulous anchors must be applied, and quickly, because some very nasty cats have been let out of the bag.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 30th, 2018.

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    Original news : https://tribune.com.pk/story/1621344/6-a-dark-development/