The dark web has many different visitors, including drug traders, computer nerds, swindlers, people who fight against censorship, and regular people who simply wish to communicate with others without the government looking over their shoulder.
To understand what the dark web is exactly, we need to differentiate between a few different terms. The internet is often described as consisting of three parts: the surface web, the deep web, and the dark web. These words are often used the wrong way, which can cause a lot of confusion. Here are a few main points you might want to keep in mind:
- The internet is a worldwide network.
- The web is a communication tool that uses the internet network.
- The web consists of: the surface web, the deep web, and the dark web.
Each of those three terms will be explained below.
The surface web
The surface web is what most of us use every day. It’s accessible through regular browsers like Chrome, Safari and Firefox. This very article is part of it: you can access it anywhere and at any time, as long as you have an internet connection and a browser. Other websites including those of online stores and businesses are also part of the surface web. This is the part of the web that can be reached easily by using a search engine like Google.
The deep web
The deep web is the part of the internet that houses very specific information. Most of us won’t have access to this information, and it isn’t accessible through search engines either. Mostly, these are pages and databases that are only meant for a certain group of people within an organization.
In order to get access, you need to know the exact web address (URL). In some cases, you need a password as well. Examples of pages on the deep web are some university library databases, reports and journals that only subscribers have access to, and the timeline of your private Facebook account.
The dark web
Finally, there is that part of the internet we call the dark web. It’s more difficult to reach than the surface or deep web since it’s only accessible through special browsers such as the Tor browser. The dark web is the unregulated part of the internet. No organization, business or government is in charge of it or able to apply rules. This is exactly the reason why the dark web is commonly associated with illegal practices.
It’s impossible to reach the dark web through a ‘normal’ browser, such as Google Chrome or Edge. In the Tor browser, you won’t be able to find any dark websites ending in .com or .org. Instead, URLs usually consist of a random mix of letters and numbers and end in .onion. Moreover, the URLs of websites on the dark web change regularly.
Why Don’t they just Shut Down the Dark Web?
While the Tor network became available to anyone with an internet connection, more and more servers were being set up across the globe. The network, therefore, became far more decentralized. With each new connection in a different country, the U.S. jurisdiction over the internet became smaller. The power of a network resides in the fact that it cannot be turned off from just one location. If you pull the plug from the American side, the rest of the network does not cease to exist.
Apart from the inability of any country to completely shut down the network, the U.S. also benefit from having this network around — even if it also hosts illegal activities. It is still being used as a channel for covert communications by intelligence agencies. It is also one of the best tools that political activists have to stand up, leak, whistle-blow etc. against authoritarian states that the U.S. are very critical of.
THIS IS THE DARK WEB
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