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Clarifying some misunderstandings about Darkweb

By Alex Nimoy Nov. 7, 2019, 9 a.m.

The dark web has over the years generated a number of misconceptions that need to be addressed. People who are aware of the existence of the dark web understand the thin line between it and the surface web. Basically, the existence of this part of the internet became known to many after the FBI shut down the infamous Silk Road Market and jailed its founder. It got so much media attention after the operation.

Today, the only thing that comes into mind at the mention of dark web is “crime”. From a couple of movies like “the hacker” and a number of articles on the internet, the dark web is largely linked to a hub of cybercrime. This article will attempt to mention some of these misconceptions.

The Dark Web and the Deep Web are The Same or Identical

The dark web and the deep web are usually interchanged and has appeared to be a bit confusing to people including those who often use this part of the internet. The continuous interchange of these terms have created a big misunderstanding leading to an interesting misconception of the dark web.

To explain this, it is worth noting that the Dark web and the Deep web are part of the three layers of the internet. The internet is basically made up of the:

  1. The surface web (A part of the internet where pages or information are indexed)
  2. Deep Web ( A part of the internet where information are not indexed. This part is not basically far from the surface web. The Deep Web keeps sensitive information like password, credit card information and other important information from being indexed. Example is your Facebook login details. You can find Facebook on Google, but cannot find your login details on Google.
  3. Dark Web (Dark Web is basically a part of the Deep web where websites and their information or activities cannot be accessed with the normal browsers, and are kept away from the surface web.

The Dark Web

In the 1990s, the US government created the dark web to allow spies exchange information anonymously. It was a bit dangerous to keep exchanging information using the surface web that can be tracked. In a bid to operate on the internet while remaining anonymous, the dark web was created.

The Onion Router (TOR) was also created for this purpose, and was later released to the public domain. It is alleged that the Tor now hosts about 30,000 hidden sites.

After explaining the Dark web and the other layers of the internet, let’s quickly address some of the other misconceptions of dark web.

Accessing the Dark web is a Crime

I see this a lot. It is widely speculated that accessing the dark web or using the Tor browser is an unforgivable crime and can land you in jail. Well, the thing is: using the Tor browser is not a crime, neither accessing the dark web is a crime.

However, what you do on the dark web determines whether you have committed a crime or not. People mostly say that being found among criminals can get you arrested. Well, that is partly true. The dark web is just like a big physical market with no serious regulation.

As a result, you will find people doing genuine services and those committing outrageous crimes. Due to the anonymity of the dark web, a bunch of criminals have taken advantage.

Recently, BBC announced its new dark web version of the BBC News that can only be accessed with the Tor browser. This is to make their service available to followers residing in countries that have blocked access to BBC News. If accessing the dark web with the Tor browser is a crime, then I don’t think BBC News would have launch a dark web version of their Programme. What you do on the dark web determines where you should be categorized.

The dark web is All About Crimes

The second misconception of the dark web is the criminality linked to its operation. It is true that people really commit unlawful activities on the various dark web marketplaces. However, the dark web also provides the needed platform for activists to voice their opinion, and for journalists to protect their source.

The dark web has recently been used by some companies to thwart government censorship and as a reliable form of anonymous communication. The dark web hosts Facebook dark web site that gets about 1 million visitors per month. On the dark web is a dark web radio that streams music playlists and radio stations. On the dark web is found StrongBox, which is the WikiLeaks style encrypted information sharing service.

Just as pointed above, the dark web is not all about stolen credit card sales and the trade of dangerous drugs and trafficking of firearms. It has its positive side used by a few. In countries where the freedom of association and the right to join any religion is curtailed, and citizens subjected under strict rules and monitoring, the dark web provides the platform for them to form a community, share tips and even meet in persons.

Also, the dark web provides access to books or literatures that are entirely prohibited or restricted on the surface web. Example is the Grimm’s Fairy Tale that is completely accessible on the dark web.

It’s Not Easy to Access the Dark Web Compared to the Surface Web

Another misconception of the dark web that seem to have gotten into the head of many people is that it can only be accessed by a technically savvy person. To many, you need to possess an extraordinary computer skills and programming knowledge to surf through the dark web. This is never true.

A few years ago, it was a bit complex to configure the tool used to access the dark web. This is not the same today. The software used to access the dark web is very easy to install, easily available on the surface web and configuration is not as complex as it used to be. Residents of countries who are allowed to use the Tor can install it and use .onion address to surf through the dark web.

Dark web has two sides. It can be of help, and at the same time have a negative consequence as the chance of getting exposed to illegal stuffs is very high.

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