What is the dark web used for?

Related: What is the dark web?

The first thing that comes to mind when people consider the dark web is the criminal activity that takes place. However, the dark web is indeed a place of extreme online privacy that can be used in many ways for many reasons.

Of course, this privacy allows criminal activity to flourish, and the dark web can be used to purchase items such as illegal drugs or stolen credit cards, or to access illegal and illicit content, such as child pornography. However, the degree of illegality may vary. For example, some people use the dark web to access content that is illegal only in specific areas, such as gambling in certain U.S. states, or to bypass local restrictions on accessing television or movie services.

The dark web can also be used for perfectly legal and legitimate purposes. For example, you can join BlackBook, a darknet version of Facebook, which is a strange concept in itself. Facebook itself also has a .onion address for users from countries where the social media network is banned. The privacy of the dark web helps protect the identity of people living in countries where Internet access is monitored or banned, as well as the identity of whistleblowers trying to expose government or corporate corruption.

The uses of the dark web depend on the needs of the user, and it is as useful to journalists and protesters against authoritarian governments as it is to criminals and drug dealers.

Why use the dark web?

In addition to criminal activities such as money laundering or accessing dark web marketplaces to buy illegal goods, the dark web is used for a range of perfectly legitimate purposes. In fact, despite its poor reputation, the dark web has grown significantly in popularity.

Interest in Tor and the dark web grew rapidly after Edward Snowden's 2013 revelations about the level of Internet usage surveillance by the British and U.S. governments. Following these revelations, the number of Tor users increased from 1 million to an estimated 6 million.

Many of Tor's users simply browse the surface web through the Tor browser, which has an interface very similar to Firefox. They are simply trying to avoid government agencies or their ISPs (Internet Service Providers) knowing what they are doing or what they are looking at online.

Can the dark web be used for good?

Because anonymity is so high, the dark web is often exploited by criminals. However, not all users of the dark web are interested in illegal activities. The dark web is also used by journalists, whistleblowers, law enforcement agencies, and other legitimate users who are only interested in stealthy communications. In fact, the Tor network was created as a way to communicate anonymously, and one of its basic purposes is to allow people to communicate in countries where censorship and suppression of free speech are the norm.

The dark web also provides a great deal of practical value to a range of organizations such as law enforcement agencies or cybersecurity experts. By keeping a close eye on the dark web, these organizations can keep abreast of the tools and tactics used by criminals on the dark web. Similarly, many mainstream media organizations like to visit the dark web to stay up to date on whistleblower sites and any other newsworthy topics.