As many people know too well, often to their detriment, the web can be a very frightening place. What started as a revolutionary communications experiment at CERN’s labs has come to dominate and institutionalise the world. And as with any silver lining, there is a complimentary dark cloud.

Inevitably, the more unsavoury side of human nature emerges from the dark corners it traditionally languishes in to ooze through the cracks onto our screens. Whatever you’re looking for, you’ll probably find, and you may just find it even if you’re not looking for it. The internet has provided new opportunities for some of the most hideous trades and practices, and we’re not just talking about banking.

Several governments haven’t taken too well to the enterprising nature of perverts, criminals, hate groups and outright weirdos from advertising their warez for sale by credit card, or promoting their dubious message to the global community. Censorship is now a worldwide business, with virtually every country enforcing some kind of controls (even simply for spam). China is naturally the leader with its “Great Firewall” (closely followed by Arab states and Burma), but what might come as a surprise to you is that the governments of Denmark, Australia, Finland and Thailand are also keen to get in on the act.

The first rule of the Internet is: don’t try to fight the Internet. As soon as you realise that, everything gets a lot easier. Most of these governments “filter” the websites being requested by comparing them to a rather ugly “block list”. However, that cleverness doesn’t seem to have spread to the bureaucrats imposing the ban, as almost all of the lists have been publicly leaked and are available on Wikileaks.org. The lists of blocked sites themselves are now being blocked.

Anyone brave enough to scrutinise the content of the lists will be tempted to ask how they compiled and verified it in the first place. They comprise a collection of the most vile and offensive material you could only hope to never come into contact with — child pornography, rape, incest, and occasionally, really stupid things like gambling, “terrorist” literature, and increasingly, politically sensitive content. Good viewing for a Sunday afternoon, i hear you say. Quite.

The subject of censorship easily fills a bookcase. But there is a more interesting, and relatively hidden, class of internet activity that deliberately appeals to the muddier shade of human nature and forms a peculiar grey area in the legal sense. Not so much in the moral one. These are products and services you can buy, but you probably shouldn’t be able to.

The web has spawned dozens of new commercial businesses specialising in things you would never, ever see advertised in magazines, promoted in the media, or allowed on the high street.

So without further ado, definitely don’t fire up your web browser, and make sure to avoid telling anyone you’ve spent any money in places like these.

Wakaresaseya — professional relationship destruction

Try and pronounce that if you dare, but hope you’re not on the receiving end of their business as they are very, very good at it. Wakaresaseya (literally “breaker-uppers”) are Japanese businesses that specialize in breaking up relationships, often by drawing someone into an affair or by producing other incriminating evidence. For a fee, the customer names a target, and an undercover employee of the company then attempts to initiate an affair with the target or produce other incriminating evidence.

Though most often used to gather evidence of infidelity for use in a divorce case, it may also be used for purposes ranging from bringing shame to someone, securing the resignation of an employee, luring away the lover of one’s spouse, or breaking up some other relationship. People involved in the business agree that men make the easiest targets and will almost always be seduced by good looking operatives

DIY suicide materials & methods

A favourite target of the Australian government and the “value” end of Dignitas’ euthanasia market, the business of providing others with the expert knowledge and means to sell the farm and top themselves is growing at a steady rate. The Godfather of DIY suicide is the Dr. Philip Nitschke, an Australian medic with a specialism few others of his colleagues dare mention, and author of the “Peaceful Pill Handbook”.

Amongst the preferred methods suggested by retailers are Nembutal, Propoxyphene, Morphine, Carbon Monoxide (the “Exit Bag”) and cyanide. Generally customers tend to be the sick and elderly, but as the relatively recent suicide spate in Wales (co-ordinated via Bebo and other social networks) demonstrates all too clearly, products to end it all clearly have a demand that can be satisfied on eBay, and it’s profitable.

Poison Pen Letters & Hate Cards

It had to happen someday. You know the feeling, everyone does. It’s Valentines Day and your heart is broken, and for those of us more inclined to vicious spite than others, it’s a perfect opportunity to let rip and really let that asshole know what you think of them. Cue the antithesis of cutesy greeting cards: the hate card, or poison pen letter. And there are no shortage of nasty idiots walking the earth who deserve one.

For a small price, you can send the non –love of your life an obnoxious and cruel message is true style and ironic humour. Suppliers include Poison Pen Inc, HateCards.com, and Cut Throat Cards, and many of them are scaling up to actual gifts, including real animal hearts with implements stabbed through them. Examples include “You are cordially invited to… eat s**t and die”, “I’m sorry… i ever met you”, and “Thank you for the lovely dinner… i should be out of hospital in a few days.”

Prostitute Shopping Comparison

Don’t ever mention it to Harriet Harman or she just might implode in front of you. Punternet has been dogged by controversy and shutdown attempts since it hit the press, as it’s one of the first online generation of shopping review sites for… prostitutes and sexual services. Just like a giant supermarket, The growing brand archives written “field reports” from Johns who regularly frequent brothels and dodgy backstreets and want to share the details of their experiences with other whore connoisseurs like a market research database.

Reviewers detail where and when, their thoughts on the decor, whether they would recommend it to others, and whether they would return, all along with a personal satisfaction rating. If nothing else, it’s got to be one of the funniest and sincerely brazen publishing nightmares for years and has a defiantly indignant approach to freedom of speech.

Black Hat Hackers for Hire

The days of cheap telco re-wiring and anonymous modem intrusion are long gone since arch-nerd Bill Gates showed the geek armies of the world how to make a bob or two on the free market. The most enterprising evade their prison time by being strong-armed into working for the military arm of government or advertise their services as “White Hat” computer security consultants, whereas their naughtier cousins have taken their nefarious skills to the private sector.

For hourly fees, collectives like HireHackers.com offer “password retrieval”, online tracking, break-ins and “advanced information acquisition”, with the most difficult cases accepted only in person. The black hats have long since decided to come out of the dark and set up shop on the web for ordinary people to weaponise their curiosity. If you’re a cheating spouse, your days are electronically numbered.

The Most Dangerous Bookstore In The World

“For educational purposes only” is the tagline that defines one of the greatest legendary booksellers of all time, second only to the original barnstormer they bought out when it collapsed, Loompanics Unlimited. Paladin Press are the world’s leading specialist library of “alternative” literature that is just too risky or dangerous for anyone else to stock, and their business just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

A simple browse of their catalogue reveals titles in categories such as personal and financial freedom, survivalism and preparedness, firearms and shooting, various martial arts and self-defense, military and police tactics, investigation techniques, spying, lockpicking, sabotage, revenge, knives and knife fighting, explosives, and other “action topics”.

Their most infamous title to date has to be the gloriously unrepentant “Hit Man: A Technical Manual for Independent Contractors” which has been cited as the methodology used in several high profile US murder cases.

Designer Kidnappings To Order

The latest extreme leisure sport for overly-affluent thrill seekers has to set some sort of record: organising your own spontaneous, violent and terrifying kidnapping by trained professional security consultants. For a modest price, you can be ripped from the side of the road, interrogated and near-traumatised, all in the name of entertainment.

Companies such as Spy Games, Video Adventure Services, and many European rivals have defined a new niche that is proving to be extremely popular and the surveillance-heavy experience is only ended when the “client” has been totally controlled and manipulated by the company’s operatives. Presumably the myriad of disclaimers doesn’t deter the masochistic souls who try and book up their boss by proxy for torture. And inevitably, this kind of inane madness doesn’t come with a free online travel itinerary planner.

Lies, Excuses & Alibis For Sale

The most common way for a cheating little s**t to cover their tracks is to rope in a loyal best friend to answer the call to a partner. A small community of entrepreneurs obviously saw a gap for one of the oldest practices in the world and turned it into the no-questions “hire-a-liar” business with global reach. “Alibi & Excuse” agencies are popping up everywhere, and offer their clients the discreet and private service of backing up their infidelity to spouses, colleagues and families with a convenient and credibly alibi if things get tricky.

Evidence is provided as standard: a telephone call simulating work emergency or car accident, an invitation to a classical music event, a letter documenting your participation in a sales seminar, or tickets to a football game and/or Britney Spears concert. Helping people to be dishonest has never been so lucrative.

Be My Sugar Daddy Baby

If you’re lonely, bored and, of course, uber-wealthy, money can unfortunately pretty much buy you anything, including “companionship”. Dating websites are having their heels snapped up by a new breed of “introduction” service for married men: matchmaking suited millionaires to gold-digging twentysomething women — and it’s gone superbly electronic.

For an average of $2,000/month, “sugar babies” (generally attractive young girls in severe debt or struggling students) spend set days with their “companion” and are “spoilt” with shopping trips and boozy lunches as a “mutually beneficial arrangement” which apparently does definitely not include the provision of sexual services over Earl Grey at the end of the afternoon. If you’re married and bored, there are plenty of cash guzzlers just waiting to help you meet girls as young as your daughter, to be your friend.