Discussions took place focused on cybersecurity measures, specifically addressing cybercrime in the context of emerging technologies such as Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and the Metaverse. Session 5 of the conference focused on the interconnectedness between the darknet and cryptocurrency and the challenges it poses for law enforcement agencies and regulators. They discussed that Understanding AI is necessary for enterprises. AI models have difficulties, but we are looking forward to trustworthy AIs. and AI technology must be transparent.
Darknet and Cryptocurrency
The darknet refers to the hidden part of the internet where illicit activities have proliferated in recent years. It was initially developed to provide anonymity, privacy, and protection to specific individuals such as journalists, activists, and whistleblowers. However, it has now become a playground for criminal activities. Cryptocurrency, particularly Bitcoin, has been widely adopted on the darknet due to its anonymous nature, enabling anti-money laundering and unlawful transactions.
Three major points emerge from this relationship: the integrated nature of the darknet and cryptocurrency, the need for regulations to prevent darknet-based crimes, and the importance of striking a balance between privacy and security.
- Integrated Relations: The darknet and cryptocurrency have evolved independently, with different motives and purposes. It is crucial to understand the integrated relationship between them and how criminals exploit this connection.
- Regulatory Frameworks: There is a need for effective regulations to prevent crimes facilitated through the darknet and cryptocurrency while striking a balance between privacy and security.
- Privacy and Security: Privacy is a fundamental right, and any measures taken to enhance security should not infringe upon individual privacy. A multistakeholder approach involving tech companies and regulators is necessary to find this delicate balance.
Challenges Associated with Cryptocurrency Use:
The use of cryptocurrency on the darknet poses several challenges. The risks associated with darknet-based cryptocurrency crimes are a significant concern. Additionally, regulatory challenges arise due to the decentralised and borderless nature of cryptocurrencies. Mitigating these challenges requires innovative approaches utilising emerging technologies.
Preventing Misuse of Technologies:
The discussion emphasised that we can step ahead of the people who wish to use these beautiful technologies meant and developed for a different purpose, to prevent from using them for crime.
Monitoring the Darknet:
The darknet, as explained, is an elusive part of the internet that necessitates the use of a special browser for access. Initially designed for secure communication by the US government, its purpose has drastically changed over time. The darknet’s evolution has given rise to significant challenges for law enforcement agencies striving to monitor its activities.
Around 95% of the activities carried out on the dark net are associated with criminal acts. Estimates suggest that over 50% of the global cybercrime revenue originates from the dark net. This implies that approximately half of all cybercrimes are facilitated through the darknet.
The exploitation of the darknet has raised concerns regarding the need for effective regulation. Monitoring the darknet is crucial for law enforcement, national agencies, and cybersecurity companies. The challenges associated with the darknet’s exploitation and the criminal activities facilitated by cryptocurrency emphasise the pressing need for regulations to ensure a secure digital landscape.
Use of Cryptocurrency on the Darknet
Cryptocurrency plays a central role in the activities taking place on the darknet. The discussion highlighted its involvement in various illicit practices, including ransomware attacks, terrorist financing, extortion, theft, and the operation of darknet marketplaces. These applications leverage cryptocurrency’s anonymous features to enable illegal transactions and maintain anonymity.
AI’s Role in De-Anonymizing the Darknet and Monitoring Challenges:
- AI’s Potential in De-Anonymizing the Darknet
During the discussion, it was highlighted how AI could be utilised to help in de-anonymizing the darknet. AI’s pattern recognition capabilities can aid in identifying and analysing patterns of behaviour within the darknet, enabling law enforcement agencies and cybersecurity experts to gain insights into its operations. However, there are limitations to what AI can accomplish in this context. AI cannot break encryption or directly associate patterns with specific users, but it can assist in identifying illegal marketplaces and facilitating their takedown. The dynamic nature of the darknet, with new marketplaces quickly emerging, adds further complexity to monitoring efforts.
- Challenges in Darknet Monitoring
Monitoring the darknet poses various challenges due to its vast amount of data, anonymous and encrypted nature, dynamically evolving landscape, and the need for specialised access. These challenges make it difficult for law enforcement agencies and cybersecurity professionals to effectively track and prevent illicit activities.
- Possible Ways Forward
To address the challenges, several potential avenues were discussed. Ethical considerations, striking a balance between privacy and security, must be taken into account. Cross-border collaboration, involving the development of relevant laws and policies, can enhance efforts to combat darknet-related crimes. Additionally, education and awareness initiatives, driven by collaboration among law enforcement, government entities, and academia, can play a crucial role in combating darknet activities.
The panel also addressed the questions from the audience
- How law enforcement agencies and regulators can use AI to detect and prevent crimes on the darknet and cryptocurrency? The panel answered that- Law enforcement officers should also be AI and technology ready, and that kind of upskilling program should be there in place.
- How should lawyers and the judiciary understand the problem and regulate it? The panel answered that AI should only be applied by looking at the outcomes. And Law has to be clear as to what is acceptable and what is not.
- Aligning AI with human intention? Whether it’s possible? Whether can we create an ethical AI instead of talking about using AI ethically? The panel answered that we have to understand how to behave ethically. AI can beat any human. We have to learn AI. Step one is to focus on our ethical behaviour. And step two is bringing the ethical aspect to the software and technologies. Aligning AI with human intention and creating ethical AI is a challenge. The focus should be on ethical behaviour both in humans and in the development of AI technologies.
The G20 Conference on Crime and Security shed light on the intertwined relationship between the darknet and cryptocurrency and the challenges it presents to cybersecurity. The discussions emphasised the need for effective regulations, privacy-security balance, AI integration, and cross-border collaboration to tackle the rising cybercrime activities associated with the darknet and cryptocurrency. Addressing these challenges will require the combined efforts of governments, law enforcement agencies, technology companies, and individuals committed to building a safer digital landscape.
Author: Neeraj Soni, Intern – Policy and Advocacy, CyberPeace