The dark web: Guns and drugs for sale on the internet's secret black market
Out of reach of regular internet searches is the secretive online world known as the 'dark web' - anonymous, virtually untraceable global networks used by political activists and criminals alike."You have the availability of multiple dealers so you can compare products - and customers can review the dealer's product, too."
American student, David - not his real name - explains why he chooses to buy illegal drugs on the so-called 'dark web'.
"You don't have to go in front of a street dealer, where there might be a risk of violence," he adds.
And it is not just drugs which are available on this online black market. Fake passports, guns - even child pornography.
Anonymous drug dealers
The dark web is facilitated by a global network of computer users who believe the internet should operate beyond the supervision of law enforcement agencies.
It allows users like David, and those who sell him drugs, to remain anonymous. Users often do not know the real identity of the fellow users they are dealing with, and it is very difficult - although not impossible - for authorities to track them.
5 live Investigates spoke online with a number of anonymous dark web users.
One told the programme "I feel much safer [online] than doing transactions in the real world. I used to sell drugs in the real world. Nowadays I almost strictly use the dark web for any drug transaction."
Another said: "If you're young and trying to find a contact for drugs harder than marijuana it is practically impossible without risking exposure and arrest."
“We don't have enough courts, we don't have enough judges, and we don't have enough police officers to tackle the real scale of illegal behaviour on the internet”: John Carr Internet security adviser
Getting access to the dark web depends on users downloading freely available software, based on peer-to-peer file-sharing technology, which effectively scrambles the location of users and dark web websites.It is not just a criminal domain, either - the dark web has proved a crucial tool in concealing the identity of political campaigners living in countries with oppressive governments.
It is said to have helped some of the organisers behind the Arab Spring protests.
That said, the potential for criminal enterprise is significant.
Researchers from the 5 live Investigates team successfully accessed the dark web, and made a purchase of the hallucinogen DMT - a class A drug, ranking it on a par with heroin and cocaine.
An extra layer of secrecy is added to the dark web by the use of Bitcoins - an electronic currency which is used legitimately by online gamers, but which can be used by criminals to mask their financial transactions.
With Courtesy of BBC