Research on the Darknet

Bitcoin sign on the matrix background

The “Darknet” and the so-called “underground economy” are currently on everyone’s lips as new Internet phenomena. But the “Darknet” is not as dark and dangerous as its name suggests. There are good and understandable reasons for Internet users to be interested in concealing their IP address. The “Darknet” is an invaluable tool in the international fight for freedom of the press and freedom of opinion against totalitarian regimes. However, the concealment of identity – especially with the additional use of virtual crypto currencies (e.g. Bitcoin, Monero) as means of payment – is also attractive to criminal actors. The (supposed) anonymity in the “underground economy” poses new challenges for law enforcement agencies. Therefore, the question arises how to ensure effective prosecution of criminal darknet users without unduly restricting the legitimate interest and right to anonymity of legal users.

Our research pursues this question from a constitutional and criminal procedural law perspective. In addition, we are working with our technical research partners on information technology solutions to fight Darknet crime.