The Darknet is a mysterious, and largely unheard of, part of the internet. It is a place for those who want complete anonymity online for whatever reason. In this corner of the web, the promise of anonymity leads to the acceptance and growth of information and products which are stigmatised by public opinion and society. In other words: its secretive nature inevitably leads to the festering of criminal activity.
All this being said, theoretically, simply browsing the Darknet is not illegal. That is, as long as you are not perceived as having an interest or repeatedly accessing illegal sites. There are some downright terrifying things on the Darknet but there are people who use this hidden web that simply want privacy, so not all users participate for illegal means.
The Darknet began drawing mass attention with the bust of the notorious marketplace Silk Road. In the years following, numerous similar markets have popped up in its place.
I speak to Rhys Clarke, a regular drug user, who shares insight to his habits and debriefs me on Darknet navigation.
“When I get new stuff [pills] I usually just go on Pill Report to scope it out. Most of the time the reviews are pretty good and I’m less worried taking it,” Mr Clarke said.
“I used to buy drugs from people I know or out [clubbing] but not really anymore because I just get them online.”
“There’s a big jump, the purity and quality for money is incomparable, you can’t buy better stuff for the same price on the street, online is probably where they [street dealers] get them anyway.”
Drug epidemiologist Dr Jason Ferris foresaw a similar outcome, “the Darknet marketplace will only grow as people become more prepared to shop online.”
Dr Ferris then said to me, “I’m gonna guess you have something on you that you bought online.”
He was right: nearly every single thing I was wearing, I had purchased online.
We’re living in a place where the online market trade is common, so it makes sense that the drug market would also set up shop.
It is a real commercial business model, and every time a marketplace shuts down, new, refined ones appear. On these sites, there are search bars and filters so users can find what they are seeking with ease. A feedback system exists for both sellers and buyers, just like eBay.
The growth of this market seems inevitable with all its promises. All things considered, it is still an incredibly risky venture, not only pertaining to its illicit nature but also the possibility of a website bust or exit scam, both of which can happen at any given moment. Just like in the real world, dodgy businesses still exist and it may be uneasy on the conscience to purchase drugs from a website which also sells assassinations.