Technically speaking, it is not illegal for you to browse or host a website on the dark web (or darknet), according to FindLaw. However, there are many darknet marketplaces in operation that conduct illegal transactions and share illicit information.
The dark web operates in a fashion that enables you to keep your anonymity. This “invisibility” opens a host of possibilities for secret operations of any motivation.
How does the dark web work?
The dark web is an ideal tool for illegal activity because it operates under encryption, i.e., converted into a code to prevent unauthorized access. You cannot use a conventional web browser like Google to find a website on the darknet. Furthermore, the advent of cryptocurrency allows individuals to conduct digital transactions that are also virtually anonymous.
The dark web is often confused with the deep web, which is a much broader level of websites that are invisible to browsers. Sites on the deep web generally do not need the same degree of secrecy that those on the darknet do. The deep web is where website administrators manage content behind-the-scenes. It also includes paid or subscriber-only content.
The dark web, while technically a fragment of the deep web, requires a unique browser capable of reading the encryptions of the websites. To access a site on the darknet, you need to know the exact internet address.
How does law enforcement track illegal activity on the dark web?
Even though it is difficult for the authorities to track activity on the darknet, it is not impossible. There is a federal task force that tracks illegal cryptocurrency activity. The FBI even uses cybercriminals’ own tools to find them. They have hacked illicit sites with software similar to the kind identity thieves use to gain your computer and internet passwords.
Law enforcement commonly goes undercover, acting as buyers, and attempting to get leads. Sometimes, all the authorities need to do is watch and wait for criminals to make mistakes that give their identities away.