When people talk about the Dark Web, it sounds like a place where you'd sell drugs in secretive markets to anonymous people shrouded in encryption who are buying MDMA with bitcoin. Well, that's because sometimes that's exactly what the Dark Web is.
This year, more people than ever are using online drug markets hidden away in remote parts of the internet to buy drugs like marijuana and MDMA, according to the yearly Global Drug Survey, released on Tuesday morning.
Out of the 101,313 people who took the survey, about 8% (8,058 people) said they used the Dark Web to get drugs. That's up from about 5,000 last year, and about 2,000 the year before that, according to Motherboard.
Dark Web drug markets gained national notoriety last year amid the trial of Ross Ulbricht, who ran the Dark Web marketplace Silk Road under the moniker of the "Dread Pirate Roberts." Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison and ordered to pay $183 million in restitution for the FBI estimates of how much money Silk Road made.
The Dark Web, which can only be accessed through special tools like the Tor browser, is used for much more than just drugs. It's a destination for survivors of abuse. It's useful for storing academic and medical information. The Dark Web even has its own literary journal.
But as it grows into a more prominent destination for purchasing drugs, it's going to have a tough time developing a clean or trustworthy reputation.