Prya Oliveira, Staff Writer
The recent increase of news coverage on the dark web has brought this part of the internet into the public eye. The dark web is a part of the internet that goes deeper than what you can find on search enginges; government cannot track it, nor regulate information, or the sale of products on it. This may sound like an ideal place to go to if you believe that the government should not play a role in the use of the internet. However, there are many dangerous activities linked to the dark web. Many people question if they should even use the dark web, and the best way to make that decision is to understand what it is.
This part of the web involves the use of a separate browser that you can download, which is different from the usual Safari or Chrome. Darren Guccione is the co-founder of the most popular password manager, and has done intense research on the dark web. He explains in simpler terms, “The dark web is part of the internet that isn’t visible to search engines and requires the use of an anonymizing browser, called ‘Tor’ to be accessed.” Unlike the “regular” internet, your IP address cannot be detected because it bounces through multiple cycles of encryption which makes it untraceable. None of your information gets indexed like it normally would by search engines, but the secret browser creates a web that complicates the indexing process. There are even some websites that require a password to login and include a time-limit on how long you are allowed on that site.
Although the dark web itself is not illegal, it does act as a medium for illegal activities. You can buy pretty much anything that you can think of through the site. There is a wide distribution of drugs, weapons, and illegal human activity on the dark web. One of the most famous websites was the Silk Road, which was created in 2011, and was the marketplace for illegal drugs. The Silk Road was shut down by FBI in 2013, and Ross Ulbricht was given a life sentence without parole. The way that transactions are possible on the dark web is through the well-known bitcoin. Bitcoins is untraceable, and essentially as bitcoin grew, so did the dark web and vice versa.
Former Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, explains the benefits of the dark web. “It is essential to acknowledge the important role that anonymity plays in protecting human rights activists from oppressive regimes.” Those who are in totalitarian nations can use the dark web to speak to the outside world and it also gives people the freedom to speak openly on controversial issues, especially issues concerning the ruling government.
The dark web may contribute to the freedom of speech for those who are in countries that do not guarantee this right, but there is a reason it is referred to as the dark web. Aside from the distribution of illegal drugs, there are images depicting abuse of people of all ages including children, and places that provide the user the ability to hire hitmen and hackers. You can purchase credit card numbers, fake money, login information to bank accounts, and prepaid debit cards. Guccione says, “for those willing to put up with the inconvenience, the dark web provides a memorable glimpse at the seamy underbelly of the human experience- without the risk of skulking around in a dark alley.”
There is an increase of legitimate web companies that are establishing themselves in the dark web to keep up trends of the internet and to avoid government regulation. On the other hand, the majority of those who frequent the dark web are drug dealers, terrorist groups, and criminals. There are dangerous things on the dark web and downloading it gives you more access to that. Being educated on this growing trend will help you to decipher what the dark web truly is.