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Darknet-Based LSD Smuggling Syndicate 

NCB Busts Major Darknet-Based LSD Smuggling Syndicate

NCB Busts Major Darknet-Based LSD
Smuggling Syndicate

In News: Darknet-Based LSD Smuggling Syndicate

  • The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) busted a pan-India drugs trafficking network operating on the dark web with the largest ever seizure of 15,000 LSD blots in one operation.
    • LSD or lysergic acid diethylamide is a synthetic chemical based-drug and is categorised as a hallucinogen.
    • Possession of 0.1 gram of LSD, which is the commercial quantity for the hallucinogenic drug, invites strict legal action under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.
  • The network, which operated in the darknet and used cryptocurrencies for payments, was spread across Poland, the Netherlands, the US and various states in India.

Dark Net

  • Dark Net, also referred to as dark web is a maze of secret websites which can be accessed only through encrypted channels.
    • In other words, it is the hidden collective of internet sites only accessible by a specialized web browser.
  • It is used for keeping internet activity anonymous and private, which can be helpful in both legal and illegal applications.

How It Operates?

  • The dark web operates in secrecy using The Onion Router (ToR).
    • ToR is free and opensource software for enabling anonymous communication.
    • It is an Internet based system to prevent eavesdropping and traffic analysis attacks.
  • Experts say darknet is very tough to penetrate owing to its end-to-end encryption.
    • The access to darknet is possible only through specialized browsers like ToR, Freenet, I2P and Tails to surf the darknet anonymously.
  • The privacy-centric browser like Tor routes the web page requests through proxy servers thus making your IP address untraceable.

Dark Web vs. Deep Web

  • Both the dark and deep web share one thing in common: Neither can be found in search engine results.
  • The difference between them primarily lies in how their content is accessed.
    • Deep web pages can be accessed by anyone with a standard web browser who knows the URL.
    • Dark web pages, in contrast, require special software with the correct decryption key, as well as access rights and knowledge of where to find the content.

Uses of Dark Net

  • Nowadays, darknet has become a hidden platform meant for the sale and purchase of much of the contraband items like drugs, arms, pornographic content and other illegal activities.
  • Due to its ability to provide an anonymous cover, the platform has become a safe haven for criminals dealing in every kind of illegal activity.
  • The matter gets complicated with the evolution of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.
  • It is also used by people who require privacy for entirely legal reasons.
    • E.g., the exchange of proprietary business information or communication by political activists.
    • Darknet helps to protect the right to freedom of information and online privacy of individuals and is therefore often used by journalists and other activists.
  • One ethical use for the dark web is for law enforcement and threat intelligence agencies.
  • These types of professionals may search the dark web for signs of cybersecurity or data breaches, illegal activity, scams or other emerging threats.

  • Accessing the dark web is legal in India. The Indian government does not recognize it as an illegal activity.
  • However, this doesn’t mean one is free to do whatever he/she wants.
  • Various activities like child pornography, buying guns, pistols, rifles, drugs, etc. are considered to be illegal.
  • Hence, the dark web is not illegal. It is the activity or the intent of a person that is taken into account while using the dark web.

Regulatory Challenges

  • The biggest challenge with respect to regulation of the dark web is its encryption technique and anonymity.
  • Apart from the strong encryption techniques, most financial transactions on the dark web are performed in cryptocurrencies which provide further anonymity.
  • The trans-border nature of the dark web further complicates the matter.
  • Ensuring right to freedom of information and online privacy while eliminating the illegal activities thriving on dark web is a challenge.

Steps Taken By India
  • In August 2021, at the BRICS meeting, India discussed the misuse of the darknet for drug trafficking during a webinar conference. The group of nations will soon be coming up with a solution.
  • A comprehensive legislative policy to deal with this domain is being discussed. It was deliberated upon in 56th All-India DGP-IGP Conference being held at UP Police headquarters, Lucknow.

Way Forward
  • Implement such a system where freely available VPNs are banned.
    • For this, the government should create an authority under the Information Technology Act, 2000. The government may create a mandatory charge for VPN registration.
  • Develop close cooperation between public and private organisations
    • It will help in dealing with the new and emerging technological challenges of the dark web, by providing solutions such as new encrypting tools, etc.
  • Foster international cooperation in the form of multilateral exchanges
    • It will help in dealing with the challenges of the trans-border nature of the dark web.
  • Adopt China Model
    • Many security experts argue that it is high time that India adopt the ‘China model’, wherein the great firewall of China, blocks ToR traffic.
    • On similar lines, The Incredible Firewall of India will affect a body-blow to flourishing darknet crime.

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