Is the Dark Web Illegal?

Posted on November 3, 2020 by Webhose

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Many individuals mistakenly think that it is illegal to access the dark web. In reality, the dark web is part of the TOR (The Onion Router) network and was originally developed by the United States government as an anonymous part of the internet to provide privacy and protection to citizens in oppressive regimes who wish to express themselves freely. Other dark web networks like I2P, Zeronet and Freenet were established soon afterward for the same reason.

With the evolution of brand monitoring and the increase in digital risks to both organizations and brands, many now monitor the darknets continuously by enlisting the help of a dark web data provider. These new threats include data breaches, ransomware attacks, fraud, account takeover, identify theft and more. Advanced darknet data providers provide an effective way of continually searching through the massive amount of content on the dark web and identifying risks and threats to these brands and organizations. In addition, they are better equipped to index the massive amount of content that is not indexable by open web search engines like Google, Bing, or Firefox. 

Unfortunately, due to the anonymous nature of the dark web, it has also become a harbor for malicious actors who wish to execute all manner of criminal activity without fear of being caught. Many dark web marketplaces, files, sites, discussions, and forums are full of posts planning and seeking collaborators for crimes related to illegal drugs, child pornography, gun trafficking, counterfeit money, financial crime, hacking, data breaches, and more. The growth of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have added another level of protection for cybercriminals. Tracking these transactions to their criminal source has become a significant challenge for law enforcement. 

Still, it is important to keep things in perspective. Many security experts have stated that a significant minority of sites on the dark web are related to illegal activities.  Both the New York Times, Facebook, and many other mainstream media sites have mirror onion sites in the dark web so that readers in oppressive regimes can access them without fear of being identified while doing so. Other individuals simply want the privacy that the TOR network offers, and don’t like the idea of the major search engines and ISPs (Internet Service Providers) having access to their browsing history and personal data. 

The illicit activity on the dark web has grown in recent years, however, law enforcement and national security agencies have made great efforts to fight back. For example, they have successfully shut down some of the largest dark web marketplaces like Silk Road, Hansa Bay, and AlphaBay. Advanced darknet data providers like Webhose play a critical role in delivering dark web data to the law enforcement and national security agencies that use it to stay on top of the constant rise and fall of these marketplaces, identify the key actors involved, and put a stop to their activity.

Want to access the dark web with Webhose? Contact one of our data experts to learn more today!