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Why is The Dark Web Not Banned, Blocked and Illegal?

POST by > Alexander Mattick

Student of Computer Science at University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (2018–present) Updated 5y

Why is the dark web not banned, blocked and illegal?

Let’s start off with a thought experiment:

You walk into a store and steal a bar of chocolate. That’s illegal, isn’t it?

Let’s take a second example: You walk into a store, steal a bar of chocolate, but no one notices. Now that’s still illegal, but you aren’t punished for it, since no one knows you did something illegal.

The same is true with the dark web:the dark web is the same as the normal internet, but there are mechanisms in place to obfuscate your real identity. If you do something illegal in the dark web, it’s like stealing the chocolate bar and not being caught (because of obfuscation of your real identity. Your original question “Why can’t the law close down the dark web” is like asking “Why can’t the law solve murder?”Doing something illegal on the dark web is already illegal even without making specific laws about the dark web (buying stolen goods online is the same as offline in the eyes of the law). It’s just that that never prevented anyone from practically doing something illegal in the first place.

Now you might ask: Why is identity obfuscation (and other techniques used in the deep web) allowed in the first place?

Let’s use the TOR network as an example:Tor is a system developed to obfuscate your identity, location, actions, etc… developed by the US “Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency” (DARPA) in combination with Office of Naval Research and other US government sources.

The reason is that if you have (international) spies, diplomats, military officers, etc trying to transmit potentially highly secret and important informations, you want a system to make the origin and identity of those i.e. spies as hard to figure out as possible. So you design a system that randomly bounces signals around between different computers to make it harder to follow a message. Now you have a problem: As soon as someone notices “Well, someone is accessing this obfuscation network from place xyz” the person you’re trying to hide from knows where you are and who you are (or at least your IP address).The only way to solve this is to have as many users as possible, using it for as many different usecases as possible, so no one immidiatly suspects you’re using it to hide mission critical information.

To give a non-computer example:Let’s say you are sitting in a room with 10 people. You choose on person.This person has the task to exchange some information with another person, without revealing the information or the person he’s talking to (if you knew the person you could shake him down for the information or kill the informant)If 8 of the people in the room talk english, but the person you picked and one other person speak in a different language, you knew who was the informant. However if all people talk in a different language, you not only have no idea what the information is, but also who is being informed.

For anyone being able to hide anything it’s important to blend into a crowd, so systems that make TOR and any other obfuscation mechanism (even simple ones like VPNs) work have to be available to pretty much everyone.

The downside is of course that illegal information can also be passed around, but the upsides of hiding the identity of informants, journalists, government agents and their like outweighs the negatives.


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