The dark web was once the province of hackers, law enforcement officers and cybercriminals. However, new technologies such as encryption and the anonymous browser software, Tor, now make it possible to dive into the dark if one is interested.
Tor (“The Onion Routing” project) provides network browser users access to visit websites “. Onion” registry operator. This browser is a service originally developed by the United States Naval Research Laboratory in the late 1990s.
Because the nature of the Internet meant a lack of privacy, an early version of Tor was created to hide spy communications. Eventually, the framework was rebuilt and has since been made public in the browser form we know today. Anyone can download it for free.
Think of Tor as a web browser like Google Chrome or Firefox. Notably, instead of taking the most direct path between your computer and the deepest parts of the web, Tor Browser uses a random path to encrypted servers known as “nodes”. It allows users to connect to the deep web without fear of having their activities tracked or their browser history exposed.
Sites on the Deep Web use Tor (or similar software such as I2P, the “Invisible Internet Project”) to remain anonymous, meaning you can’t find out who runs them or where they’re hosted.
Is it illegal to visit the dark web?
Simply put, no it is not illegal to access the dark web. In fact, some uses are perfectly legal and support the standards of the “dark web”. On the dark web, users can get three distinct benefits from its use:
1. User is anonymous
2. Virtually untraceable services and sites
3. Ability to take illegal actions for both users and providers
As such, the dark web has attracted many groups who might otherwise be at risk of revealing their identities online. Victims of abuse and persecution, whistleblowers and political dissidents have been frequent users of these hidden sites. But of course, these benefits can easily be extended to those who wish to operate in other clearly illegal ways outside the confines of the law.
Viewed through this lens, the legitimacy of the dark web depends on how you as a user engage with it. You can fall to the wayside of the legal line for a number of reasons that are important to preserving freedom. Others may act in ways that are illegal for the safety and security of others Let’s unpack both of these concepts in terms of the “dark web browser” and the websites themselves.
Is it illegal to use Tor?
On the software end, using Tor and other anonymous browsers isn’t strictly illegal. In fact, these supposed “dark web” browsers are not exclusively connected to this part of the Internet. Many users now use Tor to privately browse both the public internet and the deep web.
Privacy offered by Tor Browser is important in today’s digital age. Corporations and governing bodies alike currently participate in unauthorized surveillance of online activity. While some don’t want government agencies or even Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to know what they’re viewing online, others have little choice. Users in countries with strict access and user laws are often prevented from accessing even public sites unless they use Tor clients and virtual private networks (VPNs).
However, you can still take illegal actions within Tor that can incriminate you regardless of the browser’s validity. You can use Tor to attempt to pirate copyrighted content from the deep web, share illegal pornography, or engage in cyber terrorism. Using a legal browser will not put your actions on the right side of the law
Is it illegal to use and visit dark web sites?
At the edge of the network, the dark web is a bit more of a gray area. Using the dark web means that you’re trying to engage in activities that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to do in the public eye.
For government critics and other outspoken advocates, they may fear backlash if their true identities are discovered. Those who have suffered harm at the hands of others may not want their attackers to discover their conversations about the incident. If an activity is deemed illegal by the governing bodies you fall under, it will be illegal.
That said, anonymity comes with a dark side as criminals and malicious hackers also like to operate in the shadows. For example, cyber attacks and trafficking are activities that participants know will be criminal. For this reason they take these actions to the dark web to hide.
Ultimately, browsing these spaces is not illegal but can be a problem for you. While it’s not entirely illegal, unsavory activity lives on in many parts of the dark web. This can expose you to unnecessary risks if you are not careful or an advanced, computer savvy user is aware of its threats. So, what is the dark web used for when used for illegal activities?