Published on - February 17, 2022

Source: The Indian Express

Why in News?

The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) launched a ‘Darkathon’ for cyber experts to find effective solutions to unravel the anonymity of markets in the dark web.

The role of NCB as the nodal agency on the matter of drug law enforcement in India has gained prominence in recent times.

What is Darkathon-2022?

The competitors will have to provide a “solution” based on crawling of darkweb to identify and catalog darknet markets selling drugs with a mechanism to automatically add new markets and drop inactive ones, identify drug traffickers based in India and the drugs on sale and digital footprinting of active drug traffickers.

The number of drug seizures from parcel or courier consignments increased by almost 250% in India after the outbreak of the pandemic and a good number of them are linked to drug trafficking through darknet markets.

What is Darknet and Concerns?

About: 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, 2000 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.