Is it really legal to browse the DarkNet?

Is it legal to enter a network that is home to drug lords and pedophiles?

Before we start let’s first try to understanding the DarkNet or rather the DarkWeb.

What is Dark NET?

The dark net is an area of ​​the Internet that can only be accessed with specific browser software, such as Tor or I2P. It is an anonymity network where the identities and locations of users are protected by encryption technology that routes user data through numerous servers around the world, making it extremely difficult to track users.

The anonymity of the darknet makes it an attractive technology for illegal purposes. Unfortunately, getting visibility into criminal areas is difficult: it requires specialized knowledge, access to closed sources, and technology capable of monitoring those sources for misuse of your data.

First, let’s define the dark net. Internet can be divided into 3 sections:

  • The Surface web , where you find all the websites you know like Google, Facebook or Twitter,
  • The Deep web , which is an umbrella term for any unindexed website, such as a private or password protected site or a page hidden deep within the domains of an indexed website,
  • The dark web . These are the good things. The dark net is not really a separate section; It’s a subsection of the Deep Web, made up of some deep websites that can only be accessed with a hidden IP address using a tool like the infamous Tor.

Whether this is legal or not is a bit of a gray area. Technically, the answer is yes – at the time of writing, there is no law in any country that prohibits the use of Tor or IP shadowing for its citizens. But using the dark net is legal in the same way that walking down a dodgy alley full of traps and drug dealers is legal – the act itself is not illegal, but it has the potential to be a gateway. towards illegal activity.

Plus, don’t forget the risk of being in the wrong place at the wrong time – a big one on the dark net. Ultimately, you have to consider that much of what is featured is far from legal – and certainly not for the faint of heart.

And this state of affairs may change in the future. States like China, which banned the use of commercial VPNs not too long ago, have already started looking for ways to block Tor. France has considered finding ways to ban Tor and make the dark net illegal. And it’s not hard to see why – there hasn’t been a dearth of malicious use of Tor over the past few years.

Over the years, law enforcement has discovered and taken down sites that market child abuse images and others that offer illegal hacking services on the dark web. Terrorists, kidnappers – if it exists and it’s illegal, you can almost certainly find it on the dark web. Estimates from a 2015 survey indicate that around 40% of all content on the dark web is illegal in one way or another.

For those trapped in countries with restricted internet access, Tor can be a lifeline.

There is no doubt that the dark web has done democracy a lot of good as well – In 2005, for example, a Tor user guide that was translated into Arabic and distributed in Mauritania was credited with forcing the government to completely abandon its web filtering program. Nasser Weddady, who translated the guide, told MIT Technology Review that it didn’t even matter if officials didn’t know what Tor or the darknet was: “They noticed that our communications were not disturbed, so filtering was unnecessary. ”

Elsewhere, Tor is being adopted by even those you least expect – the US government is helping fund the project, contributing $ 1.2 million in 2015. However, they continue to fund Tor encryption research – the Ministry of Defense has funded an academic study of network weaknesses since 2014. Ultimately, Tor and the existence of the dark web continue to disrupt ordinary citizens and governments and continue to be a double-edged sword that everyone still has trouble understanding.

So yes, it is not illegal. But it’s also imperative that you remember that using a Tor browser or an IP masking tool doesn’t mean you’re safe and anonymous. There are many methods that have proven to anonymize Tor. Governments are working hard and spending millions of dollars to pull this curtain down on the cyber criminal domain. Don’t assume you’re safe. Proceed at your own risk.

What we can establish is that everything is happening on the dark net. And while it’s not illegal, you might not end up liking what you see.