Although the dark web represents just a fraction of the vast internet, it is still a powerful and perplexing tool that can do both good and bad. Still, unfortunately, it is most known for illegal activities. Its reputation comes from the fact that it unquestionably is a hub spot for anonymous cybercriminals, where they buy or sell illegal goods, like weapons and drugs, and personal information such as email login information, bank accounts, crypto accounts, etc. As revealed by ExpressVPN’s blog piece, these cyber criminals even have a price index for certain hacked or stolen information on the dark web.
The dark web has been around for approximately two decades. Although it has been used for illegal actions, it also serves as a safe spot for journalists, agents, whistleblowers, and militaries to communicate cautiously outside the open web.
However, this one question is always going through our minds: Is accessing the dark web illegal?
The simple answer is no. It is not illegal to access and browse the dark web. It is completely legal for a person to want to explore and wander around the dark web, even to require an anonymizing browser called TOR (The Onion Router) that provides total anonymity on the dark side. The Tor browser uses a network of proxy servers run by volunteers worldwide to redirect your web page requests, making identifying or tracking your IP address impossible.
So, how can you browse the dark web, and what can you find there?
Aside from the illegal and explicit content found on the dark web, people use it for far lighter and not so-nauseating purposes. Using the TOR browser, or any dark web browser, is not as easy as using an open web browser, such as Google or Safari. They often produce repetitive results for search keywords, irrelevant information, or 404 Error sites.
However, suppose you find your way into the browsers and learn how to navigate them to generate the necessary information. In that case, some good aspects of the dark web can help you academically or personally.
Here are some things you can do on the dark web that will not get you in trouble with law enforcement:
Use it for anonymous email services:
Encrypted email services do exist in the open web, as well as communication apps. Still, if you want to go further and feel comfortable in anonymity while emailing, the most popular email service on the dark web is ProtonMail, supported by the TOR browser.
Access academic research
Academic papers are usually unavailable without payment on the open web, and we know how annoying that can be when you are doing research. Fortunately, the American Journal of Freestanding Research Psychology tried to offer a solution to this problem on the dark web. They have open access to research papers that the authors themselves publish.
It might seem unnecessary, but there are actual mirror sites for social media platforms on the dark web, and not just any, but the biggest ones – Twitter and Facebook. By accessing them on the dark web, people can use the platforms without worrying about government surveillance.
Participate in anonymous forums
The dark web brings many communities together by offering chat boards where people can openly discuss certain social topics and avoid any judgment by online trolls. Such an anonymous platform is Paradise.
Collaboration with journalist
This one might be a bit surreal, but there are real stories of whistleblowers that used the dark web to contact journalists about certain revelations they might have. Such an example is Edward Snowden. He communicated with journalists on the dark web about meeting points and written drafts while hiding from the U.S. Government.