The technological and industrial revolution has significantly changed how human beings live. Work has been made easier and daily tasks are executed much faster.
It is therefore quite unfortunate that not all countries are in the same level of technological and industrial development.
The United Nations categorizes countries into two major groups: developed and developing countries. Developing countries are states which are in the primary levels of technological and industrial development. Examples include Kenya, Nigeria, India, Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates.
On the other hand, developed countries are states which are in the latter stages of technological and industrial development. Examples are the United States, Canada, Australia and Italy.
The emergence of the dark web has brought a lot of crime to the global online community. It has become necessary that law enforcement agencies around the world police the dark web in their fight against crime, through creative and effective ways.
We are going to look at how these two groups of countries fight crime on the dark web.
Darknet Policing in Developed Countries
In developed countries, law enforcement agencies typically have more resources at their disposal and thus can come up with creative means to fight crime on the dark web. In July 2017, joint efforts by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Dutch police and Europol orchestrated the takedown of AlphaBay and Hansa, formerly among the largest darknet markets.
The sting was creatively planned and well executed. First, law enforcement seized AlphaBay and made it known. This then prompted users switch to Hansa, which was under the control of law enforcement after they had seized the market’s servers around the same time.
They collected information on the users who logged in and obtained various IP addresses, which they used to build their cases.
Coordinated policing by the law enforcement authorities was key in the execution of the operation. Working together with federal agencies had proven to yield fruits; therefore the same is likely to be applied to more cases in the future.
Research into new ways of policing the dark web is also being pursued in developed countries. For instance in Australia, authorities have come up with an artificial intelligence-powered crawler that scans the dark web for suspicious activities and alerts law enforcement when it comes across any.
This technology has yet to be used universally, although it offers the promise to aid in the fight against crime on the dark web.
Other methods like network investigative techniques and poisoned water holes have been used by law enforcement to police the dark web.
The network investigative technique is when police gain access to a darknet site; they continue to run the platform and send out malware to users of the website, the malware aides in the identification and arrest of the suspects.
The poisoned water hole technique is mainly used when the suspect in a different geographical location. Police continue running the site after acquiring it and gather information on suspects; they then liaise with law enforcement in the respective geographical regions who aid in the arrests.
These two methods have however proven to be quite difficult to get a conviction. For instance, the controversial Playpen case was dismissed because the U.S. Department of Justice refused to disclose the classified technology used to identify the suspect.
These are just a few of the methods in which the dark web is being policed in developed countries. Every day, police try to find new ways to capture criminals on the dark web while criminals find new ways of evading capture.
Thus, the tactics are always evolving and becoming more sophisticated, therefore quite difficult to keep up with.
Darknet Policing in Developing Countries
Law enforcement in developing countries have fewer resources than in developed countries; hence sometimes rely on intelligence provided by developed countries. An example is the capture of AlphaBay founder, Alexander Cazes, in Thailand.
The U.S. law enforcement authorities provided the intelligence that led to his arrest, though he subsequently committed suicide.
In India, police arrested two individuals accused of vending drugs via the dark web in Delhi and Noida. The drugs were used to rave in Delhi and other places. This is among the first dark web drug vending cases handled by Indian police.
According to the Delhi Police Crime Branch, they were acting on a tipoff when they arrested Kamal Kalara, a professional DJ, and found 42 grams of ecstasy on his person.
Kalara cooperated with police in their investigation and gave up the name of another suspect, Mahesh Goyal, who was later arrested.
Goyal told police that he consumed the drug for the first time at a party; he later learned that the drugs could be obtained through darknet markets.
That was when he converted some money to Bitcoin through an agent. He used the Bitcoin to purchase the drugs which he would supply to Kalara, who in turn, would sell it at parties.
He added that he used to receive the drugs via mail. The police involved the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and Narcotics Control Bureau to curb such activities.
South African law enforcement put in place a “turnaround strategy,” an initiative centered on proactive and reactive policing.
The move is supposed to aid them to tackle criminal activity on the dark web. It involves connecting different police departments to help them work together.
The move was announced by Commissioner General Khehla Sitole earlier this year. He added that the use of unconventional means would be necessary, and so would the formation of a mode of operation strategy center that would handle organized crime.
The move was brought about by increased dark web presence in South Africa; more South Africans are using the dark web, therefore increased criminal activities on the dark web.
These crackdown efforts will help South African police do their jobs well. U.S. law enforcement also joined in the fight to offer more support; this might see a good partnership built between the U.S. and South Africa.
Law enforcement in developed countries is fairly new to dark web crimes. However, they do acknowledge that it is a problem it needs their attention.
The same applies to most law enforcement authorities in developing countries as well. Developing countries may have limited experience and know how, however, they are becoming more conscious of the problem and are working towards tackling it, which is quite commendable.
Ideally, in the future, all countries will be at the same level of development to even the playing field and enable everyone to enjoy the benefits of development together. At the same time, law enforcement agencies worldwide will be able to work with one another at the same level.
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