A darknet is a cordoned-off, anonymised section of the net where users can meet, chat and swap data. Usually darknets are confined to small tight-knit groups such as hackers who use the secure connections to distribute information and hacking tools. They have also been used by paedophiles to distribute images of child abuse. Many are invitation-only services where potential members have to upload material to prove themselves to the group before they are granted full access. Similar identity-hiding tools such as Tor are used by net dissidents in countries like China to avoid persecution for their activities on the web.
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Source: BBC News Online (16 August 2006)