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  • By Ben Alblas, Esther de Boer

Harry Potter and the Deep Dark Web


October 2013: The FBI announces that the Silk Road is shut down, a huge accomplishment. This drug website earned billions of dollars with their business. However, just weeks later Silk Road 2.0 appears on the ‘deep web’, and the FBI can start over again. Due to the anonymous character of this deep web the FBI has no chance to shut Silk Road 2.0 down quickly again.

But what is this ‘deep web’, the darker areas on the Internet where criminals can do whatever they like? This part of the Internet which concerns around 96%, where privacy has a different meaning? And where is the boundary between legal and illegal?

According to Boudewijn Mayeur, an expert in the area of online criminality, the ‘deep web’ is, theoretically speaking, an area of the Internet where data cannot be indexed by normal searching machines. This gives the users more privacy than on the ‘normal Internet’. Therefore, it is almost impossible to reveal data from the users of the deep web for other users, but for security agencies as well. The visible Internet, which most people use, concerns only 4%, whereas the deep web concerns the other 96%. This seems safe, but it also makes the deep web a perfect place for criminals to hide. The anonymity that is provided by this web is perfect for black markets on illegal things llike drugs, weapons, child porn, etc. This part of the deep web is called the dark web. Getting dizzy already? You should, because according to the site LegalTechNEws.com, legislation is not able to keep up with the quick online developments.

And that is exactly the problem: the law is not up-to-date and it is not possible to enforce it on the Internet criminals operating on the dark web. To illustrate: it is allowed to visit the deep or the dark web, however, to purchase items from the black markets or to watch child porn is not. So if you only visit a website that sells drugs it is okay, but if you purchase the drugs via the dark web you are breaking the law. Nevertheless, if you buy something on the dark web, you can use BitCoins to purchase the item. The BitCoin is a semi-anonymous construction to pay online for goods and service, which can hardly be traced by investigation services.

Even if the sale of certain goods is traced, it is not always possible to remove the site that supplies these illegal items due to the fact that it is not legal to remove the website. Some of the content of these websites is even protected by the law.

In order for the FBI to have some control in the dark web, they hack accounts to see who is making use of dark web, which raises questions on violation of privacy. Laws that have been made years ago do not give clear guidance on new technologies like these. To update these laws, precious time is needed, while criminality continues.

This is the same for companies, especially the security agencies: what kind of companies do they deal with? And when do they have to tell their customers that there are possible new threats, considering the deep web? This is another aspect of new technologies that the current laws are not prepared for, according to LegalTechNews.com. In order to tackle these problems, the law has to be innovated.

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