what is the deep web?
now, the media coverage of it would argue that the deep web is a massive, hidden part of the web which is filled with criminals.
but that is actually false, the deep web is content which is unindexed by search engines.
basically, it's data that search engines don't know nor care about.
for example, your neocities account, your online banking data or even an internal network that an organization may have. those are not stored on google or any other search engine.
all of that exists in the deep web.
the dark web, on the other hand, is comprised of information that is actively hidden from public view and is only accessible with certain tools, the tool being tor.
the dark net is used by many people, from government agencies, journalists and whistleblowers, political dissidents from oppressive countries and people just like me and you.
now, like any other place, being the surface web, deep web or a physical setting, there will be crime.
you might have heard of drug markets, people selling guns and also hitman hiring services.
unfortunately, there is a high chance that someone has sold weapons on the dark web, and drug markets are indeed a thing (e.g. the now closed silk road), but why bother going on the dark web when you could buy a gun from a place for example walmart.
hell, some people were advertising their firearms on instagram!
hitman hiring services are special snowflakes, they're 100% either honeypots (police sting operation) or just trolls who want a quick buck from profiting off the dark web mass hysteria.
the average dumb internet criminal who think they are protected because of the anonymity* tor gives you may click on them and either get arrested or just scammed in a best case scenario.
it comes to no surprise that scams and bullshit sites proliferate a lot on the dark web.
*tor gives you anonymity by not tracking you and with the use of onion routing, but it cannot protect you from your slip ups.
take ross ulbricht, aka dread pirate roberts, the creator of silk road, which was the biggest drug marketplace in the dark web before it was shut down in 2013.
the list goes on, you cannot just expect to be secure just by using tor.
you must have a certain degree of common sense as well.
ross ulbricht was arrested in october 2013 and was charged with money laundering, conspiracy to commit computer hacking, conspiracy to traffic narcotics and even a kingpin charge.
he was then sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.
the dark web would be a cumbersome place to commit crime, first of all you would need to take many safety precautions if you actually wanted to commit something law enforcement frowns upon.
those are the "many safety precautions" you should take if you're buying something from the dark web.
remembering most of them by heart can be very difficult and if you ever slip up on something quite important, you will get a knock on your door from the friendliest of feds :)
navigating through it is also very difficult, you can use search engines like ahmia.fi or find link lists.
ahmia.fi does not tolerate any abuse content, further impeding the spread of bad stuff.
going on the dark web with tor is not illegal in the first place, all that matters are your intentions.
do you want to sell drugs or firearms? well then maybe you deserve being behind the bars.
but if you're just a random person browsing the dark web, i would just advise you to use the same common sense that you use on the surface web, for example not clicking suspicious links or giving out your information to the public.
tor's goal is not to facilitate crime, it's to give us internauts privacy and anonymity.
and if you're that one who thinks "why would i need privacy? i have nothing to hide!", here is a quote from edward snowden:
"Saying you don't need privacy because you have nothing to hide is like saying you don't need freedom of speech because you have nothing to say."