The dark web offers “extreme privacy”, for better or worse
The dark web is a subset of the Internet that is not accessible by traditional web browsers and not indexed by search engines like Google, which certainly sounds shady and sinister. But is it illegal?
In a broad sense - and this article offers no legal advice - accessing the dark web is not illegal, but some users do use the dark web for illegal activities. Norton, a computer security firm, makes it clear that it is illegal to visit certain sites and make certain purchases on the dark web.
The International Monetary Fund's Finance and Development report says, "The truth about the dark web is that, in addition to providing extreme privacy and protection from surveillance by some governments, it facilitates a growing underground marketplace that sophisticated criminals use to traffic in drugs, stolen identities, child pornography and other illegal products and services. "
A 2015 study found that 57 percent of categorizable dark web sites are illegal
After classifying more than 2,700 websites on the Tor dark web in 2015, researchers Daniel Moore and Thomas Rid of King's College London found that 57 percent of the sites contained illegal content. The researchers added: "The results show that the most common uses of websites on the Tor hidden service are criminal, including drugs, illegal finance and pornographic content involving violence, children and animals."
However, the dark web has legitimate uses. It provides online privacy for users and allows citizens in authority to access blocked parts of the Internet. As F&D reported, the dark web also provides protection from retaliation for whistleblowers.
In an interview with VICE, Rid noted that government officials have pushed to declassify such sites for criminal investigations. Encryption advocates often ignore the potential for abuse on the dark web, Rid added: "We wanted to introduce a more nuanced discussion and find a middle ground between those two extremes, because obviously they can't both be right."
An undercover operation in 2018 led to 35 arrests
In June 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration disclosed "a year-long, nationally coordinated operation that used the first nationwide undercover operation against suppliers of illegal merchandise on the dark web."
According to a Department of Justice release, the operation resulted in the arrest of 35 alleged dark web vendors and the seizure of more than $23.6 million in weapons, drugs and other "ill-gotten gains.
"The dark web is ever-changing and increasingly complex, making it more complicated to locate and target those selling illegal items on the platform," said Derek Banner, then acting deputy executive director of HSI, at the time.
"But in this case, HSI agents were able to navigate through the cyber underworld to find suppliers who were selling highly addictive drugs for profit. The veil has been lifted. hsi has infiltrated the dark web and, along with law enforcement partners across the country, has once again proven that every criminal is within the reach of the law."
From：On DarkNet – Dark web News and Analysis
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