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The Darknet is not illegal!

I don’t have much to do with criminal law, except at the time of the state exam. That’s why I didn’t really report on the decision of the Karlsruhe Regional Court. The court has just sentenced the operator of the darknet platform used by the Munich spree killer to six years in prison. He was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, assault and aiding and abetting weapons and narcotics law violations, among other charges.

The case only relates to IT law, which is essentially dealt with by the operation of the platform. The Karlsruhe Regional Court ruled that the administrator, by setting up the platform, had created the necessary conditions for the later rampage, and that he also had to reckon with the fact that unstable or unreliable persons could obtain weapons in this way.

Such a ruling, as the presiding judge also noted, represents “uncharted legal territory.” And it remains to be seen how the appellate court, which there probably will be, will view these particular issues of negligence.

However, the judge at the Karlsruhe Regional Court also clarifies at the same time that the darknet as such is not an illegal institution. On the contrary, the anonymous possibility of expressing one’s opinion, for example, and possibly also concealing one’s origin through encryption, can be an important means of fighting for freedom in many regions of the world. Especially encryption and thus data security is already a high good and in case of doubt even a question of data protection requirements according to the GDPR. Websites should not be operated without SSL encryption, for example, if data is transmitted via a contact form.

Using the Darknet, let alone the so-called TOR browser, is illegal. This is something that journalists in particular should take to heart. You guys are always spreading a lot of crap. In case of doubt, certain services and offers, such as marketplaces for the purchase of drugs and/or weapons, may be illegal, just as they are on the normal Internet. That’s why demands from politicians, for whom the Internet as a whole is apparently still uncharted territory, should also be very carefully considered. It is not the darknet that should be “drained”, not to mention its technical feasibility, but illegal offerings.

So you should not let misdirected messages stop you from using the TOR network, but you should not be tempted to order something on possibly illegal marketplaces, even if it is just for testing or fun, the possession of which could be punishable by law. This can quickly backfire.

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel is a lawyer and entrepreneur specializing in copyright law, competition law and IT/IP law, with a focus on games, esports, media and blockchain.


03322 5078053