Despite having all the issues, Wikipedia is still a nigh-essential source of information for everyone. While the site remains a great resource to get a general overview of a topic, not everyone is lucky enough to access it. There are some parts of the world where freedom of speech and access to information is restricted. For instance, Turkey blocked the access to the site in April, and Syria is believed to have executed Syrian-Palestinian digital activist and Wikipedia editor Bassel Khartabil.
To rescue those at-risk users, there’s now a new version of Wikipedia that governments hopefully can’t track. Developed by cybersecurity expert Alex Muffett, this version is accessible on the dark web, by Tor browser.
If you’re wondering, Tor is a web browser that lets the user anonymously browse the web. In order to hide your location, it bounces your information through several routers around the world. It also lets users access the dark web, instead of just serving them with anonymity. Although being used for illegal activities, the dark web also helps those living in a country where accessing some particular websites are restricted. Some legitimate organizations, such as the New York Times, also have a presence of Tor.
There’s no doubt that the new version of Wikipedia is meant for the latter. Currently not supported by the Wikimedia Foundation, this site is just a read-only version of Wikipedia. The site isn’t allowed to be edited by the Tor browser in order to avoid trolls.
— Alec Muffett (@AlecMuffett) November 23, 2017
“I’d like to demonstrate the experience to people, so it’s no longer something abstract,” Muffett told Motherboard. “I’d be delighted if Wikimedia use this, or even roll their own solution; the important thing from my perspective is to demonstrate the concept, and my open-source EOTK tool makes it nearly free to provide such a proof of concept.”
While an Onion-supported Wikipedia has been on the tip of a discussion for a while, Muffett’s one is the first to go live. He is planning to keep it up for a few days as a proof of concept, but it’s hoped that it would serve as a more long-term solution.