Special Considerations

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People often confuse the dark web with cryptocurrencies, which are often used to make purchases there. But there is a distinct difference. The dark web makes it easier to set up and access websites that offer a high degree of anonymity for everyone involved.

Many dark web websites contain only information rather than the ability to buy or sell something. It is true, though, that cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Monero, are often used for transactions on the dark web. But one does not have to use the dark web to use cryptocurrencies.4

History of the Dark Web

The dark web first officially appeared in the early 2000s along with the creation of Freenet, which was developed by Ian Clarke to secure users against government intervention and cyber attacks. The system, which is still available today, allows users to express themselves freely without being tracked online.5

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory funded a project called The Onion Router (TOR). TOR offered intelligence sources a way to communicate easily and safely, especially in hostile areas where personal safety is key. It is now one of the most common browsers used to access the dark web, using databases to help people make their way around and find the information they need.2

The rise of cryptocurrencies increased the popularity of the dark web, especially for cybercriminals. That’s because digital currencies often provide a great deal of anonymity for people who buy and sell on the dark web.4

Because of its association with certain illicit activities, there have been calls for regulation of the dark web. For instance, the G20 and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) have both called for cryptocurrency companies to provide information on buyers and sellers in transactions conducted online. This is especially true, they say, to help law enforcement track criminal organizations and illicit activities