Technology has become an inseparable part of human life. Apart from reducing human effort , it has served many other purposes like faster and improved communication, increased ease of mobility, improved productivity, etc. a very prominent part of technology is internet, which is primarily a highly advanced framework of communication services that has helped in connecting people around the globe. Internet is a global network that uses web or World Wide Web in order to accumulate and disseminate information. Web can be divided into two parts that is Surface Web and Deep Web. This can be easily understood by thinking of web as the iceberg, where iceberg is the representative of entire web and tip of the iceberg that is visible is the surface web which comprises of all web based contents accessible by search engines and the rest part of the iceberg invisible below water is the Deep Web which is basically all of the web excluding the surface web. The Dark Web is a subset or portion of Deep Web whose contents can only be accessed using specific software.
Deep Web also known as Invisible Web or Hidden Web contains those parts of web whose contents are not accessible through commercial web search engines. The deep web contains myriad of information spread across various sectors like data of government organizations, school and colleges intranet systems, banking details, blogging sites, social media accounts, emails, information about various companies, public enterprises, restricted sites of surface web, electronic health records and many more contents which are immeasurable. These information and data are not indexed by conventional search engines like Google, Yahoo, etc. The Dark Web is a portion of Deep Web that lies within the deepest points of the internet abyss. Access to dark web requires specific software which comes under the onion routers. The deep web provides anonymity but dark web provides even higher privacy by masking identity, location and mainly the IP address which is the footprint of a user on web. The Dark Web uses so heavy encryption by series of bouncing of data from several locations before reaching the destination, that it is almost impossible to track a user activity on web. This is why it goes by the name of Onion Router because, similar to numerous layers of onion, the dark web also used several layers of encryption to provide privacy.
Deep web is primarily used to maintain anonymity and hence is beneficial for number of people like whistleblowers, journalists for reporting sensitive topics, anti-censorship graphs, people who wish to share personal opinion against the government or any agency in anonymity, common people who prefer to maintain privacy of their data and information. The dark web’s complex methodology makes it a secret world, full of salacious activity, black market, organ trade markets, illegal weapons market, etc. The complete blanket that dark web provides to the user identity and activity subsequently turns it into a hub for illicit activities like unauthorised access to debit and credit card numbers, fake passports, id proofs, etc. It also gives access to narcotic and weapons black market, stolen accounts, fake college degrees, assassins for hire, hacked government data, organ trade market. It even gives access to IEDs, uranium, etc. The dark web has always been played by such malicious contents and users.
Though deep and dark web are sometimes used interchangeably but, both do have thin line differences. For example- Deep web contains an ocean of unindexed pages and contents almost 4 to 5 times more than surface web, whereas dark web is usually used for illegal activities even though by a monitoring section of users. Deep web is anonymous whereas dark web is much more secret network and is almost untraceable. Deep web is ethically neutral whereas dark web primarily includes the section of society lacking morality and who tend to indulge in criminal or illegal activities. The Dark web is more shady and deeper than deep web.
Despite their advantages both deep and dark web have a tendency to become a hub for online criminal activity. Both pose various threats like infections or attacks in the form of Malware, Trojans, etc, leak of sensitive and personal data like passwords, bank details, and other financial data. They can be used for drug trade and other contraband as is evident from number of busted cases like those of silk road- drug trade market busted in 2013, its successor AlphaBay which was shut down in 2017and Hansa market etc. Several other shady dark net market places exists which pose grave threat to the society, like- the dark web contains a dump of millions of debit and credit cards which can be accessed in an unauthorized manner. The dark web also threatens national security as it is used by terrorists to communicate, plan attacks, procure weapons, etc. As there are no laws in dark net and the levels of anonymity go absolute unregulated, it becomes extremely difficult to even collect incriminating electronic evidence, as a it turns into a safe haven for variety of crimes. In Indian scenario, even the cyber cells for regulating the surface web are not upto the mark and in such case it is impossible to regulate the menace caused by dark web users without developing the existing laws and relations.
Deep web forms the major part of the World Wide Web and both deep and dark web cannot be completely eliminated as it will have numerous negative repercussions and will lead to utter chaos. The basic principle on which deep and dark web work is providing a degree of privacy and anonymity which is beneficial to protect personal data and keep it private but its adverse effects cannot be left unregulated. Proper checks must be put in place to end the misuse of deep and mainly dark web. Even though it is quite an arduous task to regulate and monitor dark web, but still government must strive to establish a framework to end the black markets by developing the existing infrastructure, creating awareness and by acquiring more technical skills to deal with cyber issues. Government must also keep in mind that while preventing misuse of dark web it does not actually encroach upon the basic right to privacy of any individual or groups of individual of the society.