The Dark Net by Jamie Bartlett

When I picked up Jamie Bartlett’s book I did not know what to expect but it was a revelation. In his book Jamie explores the underbelly of hidden internet subcultures of which most of us are blissfully unaware. At the heart of his book Jamie explores the balance societies endeavour to find between individual freedoms and state power. Intelligence agencies would take the view that it is vital that they retain the capability to monitor who they need to in order to keep the public safe. However there are many who are concerned that modern technology has moved on so quickly that their fundamental right to online privacy is being breached by governments.

In response there are groups working on ingenious ways of keeping online secrets or preventing censorship. Whilst they no doubt believe their work helps guard civil liberties from intrusive surveillance especially in repressive regimes the downside is that the same tools can be used by terrorists, child pornographers, extremists and serious organised criminals.

In his book Jamie looks at how extremist organisations denied a platform on the mainstream media have been able to use social media and the Internet to spread their message; the flourishing online drugs markets; trolls who use the Internet to expose hypocrisy and stupidity but also to bully and threaten other people; online peer support groups that help people to commit suicide or encourage anorexia or bulimia and the distribution of illegal images by child pornographers. As Jamie explains whilst the reader might expect to be shocked and outraged the reality is in fact far more complicated.

I would encourage you to read his book to find out why. With perhaps the exception of the penultimate chapter which looks at the future of technology the book is in fact eminently readable particularly given the technical nature of its subject. It really does make you sit up and take notice!


 Zoe Robinson is managing partner at Raworths LLP.

Jamie Bartlett will be appearing at the Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival on Thursday 7th July at 12.30pm. Click Here to Book