“Dark Net” should be shut down, but what about its benefits?

CIGI-Ipsos global survey

Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, Tuesday, March 29, 2016 -– Whether it be child abuse imagery, the purchase of illegal narcotics or planning an assassination, a growing amount of the world’s criminal activity takes place on a part of the Internet known as the "Dark Net" — a realm only accessible via special web browsers that allow users to surf the web anonymously. A survey commissioned by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and conducted by global research company Ipsos across 24 countries finds that a majority (71%) of global citizens ‘agree’ that the “Dark Net” should be shut down.

If this realm truly embodies the seedy underbelly of the Internet, then why do 29 percent of respondents think it should not be taken down? The answer may lie in the desire of global citizens to preserve the anonymity and benefits that are also a central part of the Dark Net.

“The anonymity of the technology of the Dark Net cuts both ways — while people can use the network for villainous purposes, people can also use it for good,” said Eric Jardine, CIGI research fellow and Dark Web expert. "Despite public opinion, shuttering anonymity networks is not a viable long-term solution, as it will probably prove ineffective and will be costly to those people that genuinely benefit from these systems.”

These statistics are part of the 2016 CIGI-Ipsos Global Survey on Internet Security and Trust, and comes at a time when issues of digital privacy and human rights are increasingly central to debates around government jurisdiction in internet security.

The survey of 24,143 users, conducted between the dates of November 20 and December 4, 2015, included individuals in the following countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey and the United States.

“The opinions expressed by global citizens on the Dark Net, a faceless realm functioning purely on anonymity, demonstrate the complexity of this issue for policymakers and governments around the world,” said Fen Hampson, director of CIGI’s Global Security & Politics Program and co-director of the Global Commission on Internet Governance. “Simply put, anonymity and the privacy of users must be central determinants in guiding the future of creating systems and boundaries to govern the Internet.”


On Dark Net:

Indonesia (85%), India (82%), Mexico (80%) are most likely to believe the Dark Net should be shut down but countries like Kenya (61%), South Korea (61%) and Sweden (61%) aren’t as likely to say so. Seven in ten (72%) Americans think the Dark Net should be shut down, which has them tied with Australia (72%) and above Turkey (71%). BRIC (78%) and LATAM (76%) most likely to agree the Dark Net should be shut down while 69% in Europe and the Middle East/Africa say the same.

On censorship & monitoring:

Only 46% trust their activities on the internet are not censored Only 38% trust that their activities on the internet are not monitored Only six in ten say that government assurances that they’re not being censored (59%) or monitored (58%) would make them trust the internet more.


For more information and to see additional data collected as part of the CIGI-Ipsos Global Survey on Internet Security and Trust, please visit:

The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) is an independent, non-partisan think tank on international governance. Led by experienced practitioners and distinguished academics, CIGI supports research, forms networks, advances policy debate and generates ideas for multilateral governance improvements. Conducting an active agenda of research, events and publications, CIGI’s interdisciplinary work includes collaboration with policy, business and academic communities around the world. CIGI was founded in 2001 by Jim Balsillie, then co-CEO of Research In Motion (BlackBerry), and collaborates with and gratefully acknowledges support from a number of strategic partners, in particular the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario. For more information, please visit

Centre for International Governance Innovation, 67 Erb Street West, Waterloo, ON N2L 6C2 Canada

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