UPSC PRELIMS 2020: Darknet

Topic: Darknet

Topic in Syllabus: Science and Technology


The Kerala Police has set up a ‘state-of-the-art lab’ to intervene and crack down on the rising criminal activities over the Darknet, also known as the underworld of the Internet.

Spearheading the programme is Cyberdome, the State police department’s premier facility dedicated to prevent cybercrime and mitigate security threats to the State’s critical information infrastructure.


Internet consists of three layers:

  • The first layer is public,consisting of sites that one uses frequently such as Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and LinkedIn. This layer makes up only 4% of the entire internet.
  • The second layer, the deep web,is a network where data is stored in inaccessible databases (i.e. cannot be accessed through traditional search engines like Google). It is used to provide access to a specific group of people.
  • The data is generally sensitive and private (government private data, bank data, cloud data etc), so kept out of reach.
  • The third layer is the darknet which is also known as a part of the ‘Deep Web’. It is a network built over the internet which is encrypted.
    • It is basically a layer of the Internet accessible only by using special software like Tor (The Onion Router),or I2P, which stands for Invisible Internet Project.
    • Anything present on the dark web will not be pulled up in internet searches, thereby offering a high degree of anonymity.

Concerns over Darknet:

In February 2016, in a study titled ‘Cryptopolitik and the Darknet’, researchers analysed content over the TOR network.

  • Of the 2,723 websites they could classify by content, 1,547 – 57 % – hosted illicit material ranging from drugs(423 sites), illegitimate pornography (122) and hacking (96), among others.
  • There were also reports of log-in details of streaming sites like Netflix being sold on the dark web marketplaces for cheap rates.
  • The network is also used by several activists especially those living under oppressive regimes to communicate without any government censorship.
  • The TOR network was used by activists during the Arab Spring.

Darknet and India:

  • The Information Technology Act deals with cybercrime and comes under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. There are only six sections in the law that deal with cybercrime.
  • With the changing times, India needs a code of criminal procedures dealing with cybercrime that would come under the Ministry of Home Affairs, which deals with policing issues.
  • Also, there is a need for police, trained in changing cyber trends who are dedicated only to cybercrime and not transferred to other police units.


Sample Question:

 Which among the following is also a part of darknet that is employed for transferring files anonymously.
a) Freenet
b) Darknet
d) Stuxnet

Answer: a
Explanation: A network construct over the internet that is encrypted and not always accessible is the darknet. It offers anonymity to its users. Freenet is also a part of darknet that is employed for transferring files anonymously.