Law enforcement and judicial agencies around the globe undertook a joint action against so-called "dark markets" running anonymously on the "Tor" network on Thursday.
The European-wide law enforcement agency Europol and counterparts from the U.S., took the joint action "to stop the sale, distribution and promotion of illegal and harmful items, including weapons and drugs, which were being sold on online 'dark' marketplaces" on the "Tor" network, Europol said in a statement on Friday.
The term "dark marketplaces" is used because illegal websites are operating in the so-called "Darknet," an undetectable area of the normal, surface internet. The "Darknet" is accessed using networks like Tor (an acronym for "The Onion Router") a free network designed to anonymize the real IP address of internet users by routing their traffic through many servers of the Tor network.
Tor is used by a variety of people for both legal and illicit purposes. As well as helping to prevent internet users from identity theft it can protect the communications of political dissidents or journalists in repressive regimes.