Could exploring the dark web get you arrested?

KD Law Group |

Could exploring the dark web get you arrested?

On Behalf of Kirsch Daskas Law Group | Apr 25, 2022 | Federal Crimes 

There is a sort of cachet about exploring the unknown. After all, that’s how the earliest overseas explorers ever got to America. Today, there is very little space on our planet that has not been accessed by explorers.

But there are still parts of the great unknown in cyberspace. Most specifically, the “dark web.” Admittedly, many cyber explorers find themselves wondering just what is out there and still unknowable. That curiosity could lead you to do some cyber-wandering to see just what is out there.

Is exploring the dark web illegal?

In a word, no.  But that does not mean that you could not stumble into trouble on the dark web just because you have no idea what you are doing.

Take, for instance, the sites dedicated to human trafficking or child sexual abuse materials (CSAM). Those sites could definitely get you the unwanted attention of law enforcement.

How can I avoid trouble on the dark web?

Unless you know what you are doing, it is better not to go spelunking about in the sites of the dark web. A person who just bumbles is like a fly trying to avoid the sticky traps of a cyber spider’s web. The people who regularly surf the dark web are hackers looking to exploit security breaches and weaknesses to access personal and financial data from which they can exploit and draw illegal profits.

Too late. I’m already on the dark web

Don’t download files. Maybe you are an intrepid journalist seeking information about the situation in Ukraine. You get directed to a site (and all dark websites look like gibberish to make them harder to trace) and download what you thought was a film about the war crimes committed in Ukraine.

But you transposed a letter or three and realize only later that the file you downloaded innocently is crammed full of thumbnails depicting horrific CSAM.

What to do if questioned about my dark web activities?

The first and only thing that you should do is refuse to consent to any searches and insist on speaking to a criminal defense attorney. Otherwise, you could find yourself on the way to a conviction for serious sex offenses.