What is Dark Web? Is the Dark Web Illegal?

Definition of Dark Web

There is only one type of internet for an average user that we use in our daily lives. However, only a few people know that there are three types of the internet.

  • Surface Web is easy to access using a standard search engine like Google.
  • Deep Web is not indexed on search engines and is accessible only to authorized persons.
  • Dark Web is a network of hidden websites that are only reachable using specialised browsers and search engines.

The dark web, also known as the darknet, is a small part of the internet consisting of several hidden websites. These websites operate anonymously and are not reachable through conventional browsers like chrome or Mozilla firefox.

History of Dark Web

In the 1990s US Department of Defense devised a network system that would provide anonymity through a layer of several encryptions. The purpose was to provide US spies with secured communication. However, except for the authorized persons, no one knew about its existence at that time.

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In 2000 release of Freenet happened. This software was designed to allow people to surpass censorship or share any material anonymously. With the release of Freenet, people began to realize the need for incognito web access.

Although Freenet is not as popular as Tor nowadays, it played a vital role in creating awareness about anonymous web browsing in the past.

What is Tor?

or, short form of The Onion Router, was a project to perform different activities on the internet without generating any browsing history or giving away the location. It was initially started in the 1990s but released for the general public in 2002.

It works by sending traffic through different relays, also known as servers, ultimately reaching the targeted web. In this way, it hides the identity and location of the users.

But there was a problem with Tor; it was not easy to use, restricting its usage to only skilled people. Makers of Tor were well aware of the fact, so they began modifying the browser to make it more user-friendly and accessible to an average person. They publicized the modified browser in 2008. Unfortunately, shortly after its release, more and more dark websites started appearing on the internet.

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What is happening on Dark Web?

Normally dark web, due to its mysterious name, is associated with heinous activities. But it is a little-known fact that the dark web is also a home for many legal ventures. So, from whistleblowing to child pornography, everything is happening there.

Illegal Activities on Dark Web

According to many pieces of research conducted over the years, the darknet is mostly used for criminal activities. These crimes range from publishing illicit material to selling illegal arms.

The most notorious Dark Web crimes are:

 Illegal Drug Sales

Ever since the invention of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, illegal trading on the dark web has become more secure and easy. Therefore, the dark web has become a paradise for drug traffickers. It works as a black market for those who want to sell or buy drugs like marijuana, heroin, cocaine, fentanyl and many more.

Illegal drug trading started with Silkroad. It is considered the first-ever darknet marketplace where anyone could buy anything anonymously. It was shut down in 2013.

 Arms Trafficking

There are multiple sites on the dark web that deal with illegal firearms. Anyone with access to the dark web can purchase firearms easily.

One such example is Armory. It is one of the biggest dark web marketplaces of arms that offer a variety of arms like a Glock, AK47 or shotgun.

 Human Trafficking

 Many notorious gangs and criminal organizations dealing in human trafficking are using the dark web. From young girls to children, they put a living person for auctions on their websites, who are then purchased by the people.

One such organization dealing in human trafficking on the dark web is the Black Death Group.

 Child Abuse

The dark web has become a haven for child abuse. Pimps and pedophiles from different parts of the world are connected on the dark web. They exchange tactics on pursuing, luring and abusing children. They also share explicit images and videos of minors.

One such site operating in child pornography was Child’s Play. This site was shut down in 2017 by the United States Department of Homeland Security.


Another dark web crime is terrorism. It has also become a sanctuary for terrorists as they can operate anonymously. Different terrorist organizations use the darknet to run their propaganda, hire members, manage finance or even plan attacks.

One such example is a page “Fund the Islamic. Struggle without Leaving a Trace” on the dark web.

Hitman and Murders

 Many websites operate on the dark web that claims to provide an assassin. If someone wants to kill a person, he can hire a killer there. According to many researchers, these sites are a scam as no such case has ever been reported where a killer killed someone from the dark web.

One such site, Slayers Hitmen, offers “death by torture” for $50,000.

 Accessing Dark Web

You can reach the mysterious world of the dark web by downloading Tor. However, Tor does not find websites for you. You have to search for them on yourself. It is not easy as most dark websites have very difficult URLs that keep on disappearing.

The dark web also has its search engine. So after installing Tor, you have to go for these specific search engines. The most popular search engines for the dark web are:

  • DuckDuckGo
  • Recon
  • fi
  • Torch
  • Haystak
  • Candle

Is Surfing Dark Web Illegal?

No, it is not a crime to access the dark web. Approaching different content on the dark web is not illegal. It is just like using a conventional browser.

But it is a crime to perform any illegal activity on the dark web, for example, purchasing drugs. So be careful while surfing through the dark web as a beginner.

Fun Fact

Is dark web safe?

The Dark Web is relatively safe, the same as using an ordinary browser. The danger arises when you buy from illegal marketplaces or download files. Downloads may contain malware or keyloggers, but the police can trace illegal purchases.

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