IGF 2023 WS #72 Defence against the DarkWeb Arts: Youth Perspective

Tuesday, 10th October, 2023 (00:45 UTC) - Tuesday, 10th October, 2023 (01:45 UTC)
WS 1 – Annex Hall 1

Cybersecurity, Cybercrime & Online Safety
Cyberattacks, Cyberconflicts and International Security
New Technologies and Risks to Online Security

Organizer 1: Alina Ustinova, 🔒Center for Global IT Cooperation
Organizer 2: Maria Lipińska, University of Warsaw
Organizer 3: Andrey Aleinikov, Coordination Center for TLD .RU/.РФ

Speaker 1: Betelehem Samuel , Technical Community, African Group
Speaker 2: Izaan Khan, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Pedro de Perdigão Lana, Technical Community, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 4: ABRAHAM SELBY, Technical Community, African Group
Speaker 5: Man Hei Connie Siu, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group


Alina Ustinova, Civil Society, Eastern European Group

Online Moderator

Maria Lipińska, Technical Community, Eastern European Group


Andrey Aleinikov, Private Sector, Eastern European Group


Birds of a Feather - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

1. The forbidden fruit is always the sweetest: will a total ban help in the fight against the darknet, or should we focus on educational and explanatory activities? How should we regulate Darkweb? 2. What role can emerging technologies play in the fight against the DrakWeb? 3. Not so dark: what are the benefits of Darknet for ordinary users and are there any of them?

What will participants gain from attending this session? Workshop aims to provide different opinions on DarkWeb issue and also have a debate about it that can lead to finding a common solution to the problem. It is also set to make listeners understand what hides behind a scary name ‘dark’, how this part of the web appeared and how it can be regulated. Discussion should also provide useful insights about DarkWeb and how it affects our society in many unusual ways: from cyber- and usual crimes to journalists investigations. Also, as this is a youth perspective event, workshop will present new fresh views on the topic and introduce young professionals.


There are two sides to every coin, and the Internet is no exception. The dark side of the World Wide Web is full of forbidden content, and since the forbidden fruit is the sweetest, getting into the dark part of the Internet is tempting for many. It is though not only a breeding ground for hackers and data criminals but also a ‘free knowledge’ world as Darknet provides opportunities to be a pirate of the Internet sea. And has no 'content moderation' making it the absolute free speech part of the Web but with its own specificity. Still there is no regulation on this aspect of the Internet and no common approach toward how to fight this dark part of the Internet. However, many people use DarkWeb infrastructure to avoid censorship in their country or to get access to knowledge. On the other hand, many governments allow the use of DarkWeb browsers (meaning not blocking it) and do not pay a lot of attention to it. Moreover, some famous ClearNet sites have official pages in the DarkWeb. Why is the DarkWet becoming more tempestuous and how can we protect ourselves from the poisonous influence of this, in the truest sense of the word, ‘black hole’ of the Internet? Is it a cybercrime heaven or just another layer of the Web where our society can also find benefits? And can 'DarkWeb freedom' be too much for all of us? These questions will be addressed during this workshop.

Expected Outcomes

Workshop aims to provide an aftermath article where all the different opinions on the Darkweb are collected. Furthermore, organisers wish to make a collection of articles about this topic from all over the world (also, in different languages with English translation provided). Organisers are to encourage further discussion on the topic via the creation speakers community for follow-up events and hold a 'year later' workshop on the next IGF. Also, one of the aims is the development of new partnerships and collaborations among participants, including experts, practitioners, policymakers, and members of civil society organisations.

Hybrid Format: As session format is chosen Birds of a Feather, the workshop aims to build a free discussion with the audience. Onsite and online moderators will make sure that participants are treated equally by giving them opportunity to speak by turns. This means that on every question or remark from the onsite audience, there will be the same from the online one. Workshop will also be using such tools as Mentimeter and AhaSlides to make participants engage more in the discussion. Moreover, those tools are also great for asking opinions of both online and onsite audiences.

Key Takeaways (* deadline 2 hours after session)

1. Dark Web cannot be regulated as there is no unique measure to ban the whole DeepWeb system.

2. Governments should put in great efforts to create more educational and explanatory activities for internet users especially young ones because not many of them really know the difference between the DarkWeb and DeepWeb. All of such structures are used for illegal purposes and criminal, but there is the only benefit of DeepWeb deals with personal privacy

Call to Action (* deadline 2 hours after session)

1. For tech companies: to develop technologies to protect people online, increase the level cybersecurity

2. For governments and big corporations: not to restrict personal opinion online and abuse the power because the comprehensive information control causes the internet fragmentation.

Session Report (* deadline 26 October) - click on the ? symbol for instructions

How dangerous the darkweb is for the average user and what benefits it can bring to society – these controversial issues were the main questions of the session.

Milos Jovanovic: You need to understand that the darkweb is just part of the so–called 'deep web'. And when we talk about offenses on the Internet and the prohibited content that is posted on it, we must understand that all this is among us, in the 'big' Internet, not only in the 'dark' part of it. Therefore, it is extremely important to improve protection systems against all kinds of violations everywhere, throughout the online space, without limiting your efforts to just one part of it.

The main association when people hear the word 'darkweb' is something bad, something related to cybercrimes and people with bad intentions. But most people use browsers like Tor (the most well–known way to access the darkweb) for normal search and visiting not sites located in the so-called darkweb, but rather quite familiar news resources and social networks (some of which have a version in the darkweb), which are available without special software. The main problem is the desire for a secure connection. 

Izaan Khan: The fight against cybercrime in the darkweb is impossible without law enforcement access to the darkweb. Many criminals were caught by the police because of this. Therefore, of course, it is necessary to understand that everything has its pros and cons. A complete ban of the darkweb is impossible for the simple reason that a new technology will always appear in place of something forbidden, which will be even more difficult to keep track of than the existing products. Therefore, it is necessary to be able to find a balance between anonymity, freedom of speech and user safety.

However, in the darknet, you still need to be doubly careful, since there you can undoubtedly stumble not only on scammers, but also on malware, Fifi Selby reminded. "The main problem is that users do not fully understand how to protect themselves from cyber threats. And some of them deliberately resort to using software to access the darknet like Tor in order to preserve their privacy in the online space. Therefore, the only way out is to create more secure applications so that people will trust accessing the network through a regular browser more than using encryption software. And this can only be done through joint efforts with specialists around the world," he said. 

Gabriella Marcelja spoke about how developing technologies can help in the future with the fight against cybercrime in the darkweb. For example, AI and some programs can already detect money laundering schemes, as well as calculate patterns of criminals to help identify their repeated actions and identify them. Now many countries are focusing more on users, on biometric identification, although it seems that for Internet security we need to improve software and technical equipment, as this is a direct way to combat cybercrime.

Pavel Zoneff, a representative of the Tor Project, also spoke at the session, who assessed the darknet from the point of view of the most popular browser that is usually associated with it. He gave an interesting statistic: it turned out that only 1% of all Tor traffic refers to "onion servers", that is, pages directly located in the darkweb. The most popular resource visited by Tor users is Facebook. That is, in fact, Tor is used like any other browser. He also recalled that cybercrime does not exist only within the darkweb, it is also widespread on the 'Clearnet', especially if we take into account that the number of pages in the darkweb is in the thousands, and there are billions of sites all over the Internet. 

In the end, the speakers came to the conclusion that it is necessary to do more cybersecurity education and training of new information security specialists in different parts of the world, rather than imposing prohibitions. Since bans lead to the creation of other dangerous tools for anonymity on the Internet, which can be much more unpredictable than existing ones.