I’ve been searching for people to talk to in the Darknet for a while. I came across a website in the TorNetwork, where a lot of data and documents are linked and published, which might be interesting for journalists. The person in charge called himself Spectre and was willing to answer a few questions. Maybe it will give you some impressions that will change your view of such activism.
How is the dark side of the Internet?
The darkside of the internet is surprisingly not that dark. It all depends on how you look at it. For me the dark web is a place where people simultaneously express parts of themselves while hiding other parts of themselves. They reveal their inner selves while protecting their real life identities using the cloak of anonymity that Tor browser provides them with. Overall a fascinating place where privacy and freedom valued more than anything.
Why the name Spectre?
I randomly thought of the name “Spectre” before i was about to register on a website on the dark web. But afterwards i liked the name so much that i started using it everywhere. And the meaning of the name(which means “a ghost”)also perfectly represents my presence on the web and in real life. To sum it up, spectre is the name of the mask that i wear on the web which acts as my gateway to experience what the world has to offer and to take part in it.
You run a website in the so-called Darknet. On this website you publish download links to different datasets. Do you follow a plan, or do you have a special goal?
I do have a rough plan laid out in my mind regarding the future of my site. But it has nothing to do regarding the kind of data i publish on my site. The only main goal i have regarding my site is to get as much of the truth out there as i can. I want people to benefit from my site. This site of mine is the outcome of my intentions and strong desire to do something of significance in this world. It is not much, but i am getting there.
What kind of data is it? Don’t you care what and where they come from, or are there any information that you would never link or publish?
The data i publish onto my site can be divided into three kinds. The first is sensitive government data, which is fresh leaked data of different governments around the world. The data could be from simple databases with government employees personal info to sensitive documents. The second is simply called “databases”. This category includes hacked databases of various sites and exists to educate people on nature of these attacks, the information that can be obtained and the significance of protecting ones online presence. The third is named as “useful info” where i publish already-public data of different kinds which can be useful for a number of things. And I do and don`t care about the data i publish. I want the data i publish to be of some significance regardless of where it came from. Especially when its sensitive government data, i will publish that at any cost. The public should know what their government is up to.
I don’t know if you want to answer that, but do you work alone, or do you have a team? There is a lot of information available about your website. Do you sort data? Do you check the data?
I work alone. The content on my site is data i buy from other people(mostly hackers) and release it for free on my site. And i do check it before releasing it(especially if its related to any government). But i don`t really sort it as i don`t feel it necessary.
You buy hacked data with your own money to publish it? How much have you already spent?
Yes, i buy hacked data with my own money. I guess i have spent around 500 dollars till now in total for the data that i have bought and published on my site.
Your real name and origin are certainly taboo. Are you afraid that someone will uncover you? Some material would certainly lead to prosecution by the judiciary in some states.
The fear of being discovered is a constant thought that is present at the back of my mind. I knew of the risks when i started this but felt that if i don`t continue then my dreams will never be realized. For the sake of my dreams and passion i still continue to do what i do. The fear and regret of never realizing your dreams despite the fact that you had a chance to do so is much worse than the fear of getting caught. If i go down, i will do so with joy, not regret.
What motivates you to start a project in the Darknet? You could simply pass the data on to newspapers or e.g. to Wikileaks? The data will be processed there. Not every reporter surfs with the Torbrowser on the hunt for this information.
I felt that if i wanted to get somewhere in the world it was best that i do it on my own and not rely on anyone else.
Does the normal user find a link to you? For me it was a coincidence that I occasionally read some hacker blogs.
I drop the link of my site on a multitude of hacker forums, so some “normal” users – who arent hackers themselves – do find the link of my site. It depends on how you define the term “normal” here.
How did the Darknet developed in your opinion? Better, worse?
In my opinion the dark web is getting a bit better. While many think the contrary due to the recent take downs of various illegal markets. But i feel that the dark web does not deserve such a negative reputation. It is supposed to represent freedom and privacy in the best manner possible. It should not be a safe haven for pedophiles, terrorists, sadists and drug dealers.
Usually, many people associate Tor and Darknet with negative and illegal activities when comparing the rule of law in the offline world. With the exception of dictatorships. Sometimes you are reminded that journalists and dissidents also communicate via Tor. What do you associate with this? Is the reference to dissidents an attempt to apologise for the illegal pages of Darknet?
One should judge only when he has knowledge of both sides of a matter. There is a good side and a bad side to everything. A person should not make a judgement on anything based solely off of his knowledge on one side or the other. The same thing applies to the dark web. While there are many child pornography sites, drug markets and other evil and unwanted things but let us not forget that there also positive things present on the dark web. And it should also be known that not all illegal things are necessarily immoral or evil. Many journalists use the dark web as a means of spreading some sort of truth to uncover lies, ordinary people use it as a expression of their freedom and many many similar positive things happen on the web. The positive aspects of the dark web may not be too many as of now but are enough to show that the dark web is much more than what most people portray it to be.
Do you know well-visited legal offers in Darknet that are protected from any criticism because they could work just as legally in Clearnet?
It depends on where you are situated at when it comes to legal things on the dark web. In some places the use of Tor itself is illegal. But to name a few things that are mostly legal would be online libraries on the dark web, bitcoin mixing services, a couple of forums but again, it depends on where you are situated and what country`s laws you are going with. The question itself is a difficult one to answer, for me at least.
Do you have any more projects? Or projects in planning?
Besides what i do on my website, i don`t have any other projects planned as of now.
In Germany, a new security law is planned that will allow investigating authorities to hijack accounts and use them to intercept other Darknet users. Do you think that will succeed?
I am pretty sure that the by using such an approach the German authorities will probably succeed in their objectives concerning the dark web. I say this because this new law as you describe it seems to be focused on giving the German law enforcement agencies more freedom in terms of the methods they use to catch criminals on the dark web. The boundries between what is right and what is not seem to have gotten a little blurred in this case from my perspective but i guess they are determined to do what they must in order to get the results they want.
Do you follow special communication strategies? I have already come across many strategies in Darknet. Surprisingly, email encryption was never there.
I myself already use an encrypted email provider but i also tend to use PGP encryption in special cases where it is needed.
How do you rate the arrest of Julian Assange? He got into the difficulties with publishing documents. Starting from the work there are parallels to you as well. Have you noticed any reactions in Darknet?
I am a bit saddenned and slightly shocked by Assange’s arrest. But i feel that this was expected especially due to the conditions he was living in and the opponents he was facing. Besides that i can only hope that he can somehow get out of this or that wikileaks can run without him.
And i know the risks of the work i am involved in and if any trouble comes my way than i feel confident that i can face it. Besides, i am driven by passion, you cannot be stopped once you start to act upon your passion and have a clear purpose in mind which you want to achieve.
If anything people on the dark web were mostly upset regarding Assange’s arrest.
Thank you for the interview.
The website can only be found in the Tor network. Your visit is at your own risk: http://intel2iy3ky6hegf.onion/
Data are linked about military details from the USA and Russia, databases of government agencies from South American countries, also the data of the hack against german politicians and a little bit more. As discussed in the interview, not everything has been published by spectre. I cannot give any information about the authenticity of the data.