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What is the Darknet and what happens there?

Feat. Kai Denker of the Technical University Darmstadt | 07 July 2022

The term “darknet” is usually directly associated with crime in the public mind. However, very few people know what exactly this word means, what functions and structures it denotes – and even if a different impression can easily arise: according to our jurisdiction, neither surfing nor operating sites on the darknet are illegal per se. On the contrary, the infrastructure of the darknet is also used for purposes that are not only in line with democratic law, but can even prove to be important instruments for strengthening democracy, preserving individual freedom and protecting privacy. Corresponding arguments come up again and again in debates about possible interventions or even a de facto ban of the “anonymous internet”. So does the darknet simply have “bad” and “good” sides? And do we have to live with the fact that this technology, as long as it serves whistleblowing, political opposition or good journalism, also fosters serious and most serious crime?

Dr. Kai Denker is a philosopher, computer scientist and historian. He researches and teaches at the Institute of Philosophy at the Technical University of Darmstadt and has also dealt intensively with the Darknet. In this episode of “Digitalgespräch”, the expert on net cultures explains technical basics and gives an impression of possibilities the Darknet offers for different users with different intentions. He discusses with hosts Marlene Görger and Petra Gehring why many net activists defend the darknet in its current form despite its bad reputation, which basic values play a role in this context, which technical aspects of the darknet are crucial for its democracy-promoting functions – and which others could possibly be dispensed with in favour of fighting crime, at least in theory.

Episode 24 of Digitalgespräch, feat. Kai Denker of the Technical University of Darmstadt, 5 July 2022
Further informationen:

Link to the Website of the Tor Project:

Link to an article on the Website of the BKA (from 2017):

all episodes of Digitalgespräch

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The podcast is in German. At the moment there is no English version or transcript available.