Invisible to most Texas web surfers, the deep web contains the behind-the-scenes internet activity and subscription-only content. And within the deep web lies the darknet. 

Websites on the darknet are inaccessible by traditional browsers and provide a platform for anyone with something to hide, including the sale and purchase of illegal narcotics, weapons and just about anything else. The darknet enjoyed years of anonymity and secrecy, but law enforcement technology is catching up quickly and putting the illicit marketplace on notice. 

Surfing below the radar 

FindLaw explained that encryption tools like Tor enable darknet markets and users to stay anonymous and remain invisible to conventional browsers and search engines. Anyone with a Tor browser and the exact website address can access darknet markets, which are identical to traditional e-commerce websites in most other ways. Darknet users also conduct transactions with anonymous cryptocurrency that makes tracing even more complicated for law enforcement. 

 Catching up to speed 

Finding illegal activity hiding behind advanced computer systems requires a specialized effort. The Department of Homeland Security and FBI have task forces and operations underway to break through the technology barrier. For example, hackers working for the government found a fault in the Tor browser code and used it to find the unique identification numbers assigned to computers on the darknet. 

 Putting users on notice 

The purchase and sale of illegal goods is not subject to ethical codes of conduct, so it always carries a risk. The darknet is no exception, and the FBI reported that the inherent anonymity might make illicit web transactions even more dangerous. Especially with sales of controlled substances, buyers cannot be sure of what they are getting. 

The FBI took action in late March 2018 that alerted darknet users that their anonymity was no longer guaranteed. Investigators have permeated the darknet marketplace using a variety of strategies. They have access to technology that can locate the personal information of people involved in prohibited activities and subject them to arrest and prosecution.