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HP darknet 'not for dissidents'

Technology developed by HP to enable secure communications networks to be set up via a web-browser should not be used by dissidents, HP has said.One of the co-developers of HP's browser-based darknet told ZDNet UK on Thursday that the encrypted file-sharing technology should not be used by protesters to mask communications in places such as Iran or China.
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor on

Technology developed by HP to enable secure communications networks to be set up via a web-browser should not be used by dissidents, HP has said.

One of the co-developers of HP's browser-based darknet told ZDNet UK on Thursday that the encrypted file-sharing technology should not be used by protesters to mask communications in places such as Iran or China.

"The situation in Iran and China we don't want to touch," said HP security researcher Matt Wood. "There are dissidents whose lives are at stake. We don't want to advocate the uses of any tool, or advocate our darknet, or any darknet - TOR can be abused."

However, Wood said that he could envisage the darknet being used as a whistle-blower tool akin to Wikileaks.

"Reporters upload documents to Wikileaks, but the reality of the situation is if the UK or US government got a subpoena for a Wikileaks server they could look at the logs," said Wood. "One of the benefits of a darknet is computers are distributed [and encrypted]."

Wood accepted that criminals could also use the technology to communicate securely, but said that was not a reason to discount the idea of a browser-based darknet.

"Everything is a double-edged sword," said Wood. "I could take my shoe and hit someone, but we won't outlaw shoes."

Wood and fellow HP researcher Billy Hoffman will demonstrate their darknet, called 'Veiled', at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas on Friday.

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