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When normal cyber-crime investigation is itself a challenge, where is the question of thinking of Darknet investigation. When asked to differentiate between Deep Web and the Darknet, can itself become a monumental challenge, the next logical question can never come to your lips. When nobody knows or nearly nobody knows, there is no question of getting named and shamed. You can be the best investigator in the country without anything to do with technology, it is very rare today that any case can be investigated without stepping into the digital world. The poor old CDR analysis still remains the favourite, as if technology has been frozen in time. While we flash the best of the smartphones, our investigative brush with technology remains at an abysmally low level.

If receiver of stolen property is still a part of the police parlance, Darknet happens to be the largest receiver of stolen property. It is right there for anybody to see, if you know how to access it. Darknet has become the biggest repository of digital criminal tools, criminals / tech resources, stolen data and technical designs. Does none of our laws believe that a part of the internet which we use for both work and fun can be a permanent storehouse of stolen property and its open sale. If this is not a crime, then what is crime? Hit men and assassins on hire have been an old story and a few of us take pride that we know how to access it. If the world is in the right frame of mind, it needs to be busted right now. Are digital assets, data and intellectual property theft and robbery so to say not a part of our property? This is way more nefarious than the physical property.

With child pornography, money laundering, drug trade, weapon and trafficking of all types and terror support systems being provided there, are we turning a blind eye. Silk Road investigation by the FBI in 2013 has already proved the horror they can create and the immense monetary gain involved. It gives a peep into  the complex nature of investigation and the skills required for that purpose and the capability to create an exceptional level of technical /legal collaboration. With both technical and communication skills missing, will it ever come by. Finality of technology is also proven, if you know to use it as an investigative tool, the way two FBI agents were caught in the same case swindling bitcoin. How to use the law is another challenge; the Playpen case being a success, might it was not legally technically right  and the Reddit subpoena being legally right but it did not serve the purpose.

Open-source intelligence should have been, by now, a tool in every investigator’s hands. OSINT as they call it is still in the world of fancy, some great tech expert should do it for you. He will never come and it will never be done and case after case available evidence, right there in the digital world, is never utilized. Investigator’s salaries have to be directly proportional to the  expertise with digital investigative tools, of which the OSINT tools are the most primary and most important, as that is the best scenario for stumbling on a clue. It may guide you to the darknet in some ways or else will certainly make you proficient to plunge into the next level of digital investigation. As it stands now Darknet is the final digital frontier of investigation. The capability to navigate there as a pro without creating a whiff of suspicion, is what we expect out of our investigators.


Sanjay Sahay

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