Is it Legal for Businesses to Sell Products on the Dark Web?
Shining a light on the dark web - can you legally run a business on this platform?
In order to attract customers, businesses often place themselves on different platforms to target a wider audience. This article tackles the question of whether one of those platforms should (or legally can be) the Dark Web. This article will only refer to legitimate businesses (which might not be what first comes to mind when you think of the Dark Web!).
What is the Dark Web?
The Dark Web is often thought of as the internet’s ‘evil twin’. Browsers like Tor protect a user’s identity while they surf it, providing privacy and freedom of access to information. This protection is necessary when someone tries to access a website unavailable in their country – for example Facebook in China.
However the protection that Tor offers also attracts those engaging in criminal activity on the Dark Web, which explains the negative connotation surrounding it. Just as much as people assume the Dark Web contains illicit material and is a platform to conduct illegal activities, it also has legitimate sites where you can download books for free.
Is There Any Benefit to Running a Business on the Dark Web?
An advantage of this platform is the privacy it provides. It is completely legal for businesses to sell through the Dark Web if the products or services themselves are legal. A business that may appeal to customers through the Dark Web is one providing services that the customer may not wish to be known to receive. While this privacy benefits the customer, there is no advantage to businesses as anonymity for providing legal products isn’t necessary. If you have concerns about whether you’re protecting your customers’ privacy adequately on the Clear Web, a privacy lawyer can review your processes.
Things to Consider as a Customer
Despite the advantage of privacy that browsers like Tor provide, there are legal documents lacking such as privacy policies and terms and conditions of use that are usually available on the Clear Web. This includes legal protection for consumers that states the quality standard of the product or service offered by the business. Therefore, I recommend that if the Clear Web offers those services then that is where you should purchase from instead.
Method of Payment
A crucial factor to consider when running a business is how you will receive payments. Customers using the Dark Web for privacy purposes will not use methods of payment that are easy to trace. Cryptocurrency is a common method of payment as it is untraceable between transactions as opposed to credit card payments. The question is therefore whether your business is willing to accept payments of this kind.
Weighing up the Advantages and Disadvantages
Although technically legal, selling products through the Dark Web is not beneficial to growing your business.
Unless your business appeals to customers who cannot access it through the Clear Web, there will rarely be any advantage.
Have more questions? Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800 529 728 to learn more about customising legal documents and obtaining a fixed-fee quote from Australia’s largest legal marketplace.
Kayal is a Legal Tech Intern at Lawpath as part of the content team. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Laws with a Bachelor of Science (major in Cyber Security) at Macquarie University.