WASHINGTON - U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday answering questions on a variety of topics including the dark web and the use of bitcoin.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) asked Sessions if he has any plans about stopping criminals from using the dark web. Sessions said he and the FBI are very concerned about encrypted networks.
Sessions told the committee that criminals are using the dark web to sell illegal substance and guns.
“They use bitcoins, and other untraceable financial capabilities and it is a big problem,” Sessions said.
The dark web, or darknet, consists of content on networks that require specific software or authorization to gain access and makes up a small part of the deep web.
Many sites on the darknet are vast market places where users can buy drugs, guns, counterfeit money, fake I.D.s, child porn and even find contract killers.
The deep web consists of content that has not been indexed by search engines and researchers believe 96 percent of the internet is deep web content.
Bitcoin is one of the many cryptocurrencies being used on the darknet.
What is bitcoin?
Bitcoin is a digital currency that is not tied to a bank or government and allows users to spend money anonymously. The coins are created by users who “mine” them by lending computing power to verifying other users’ transactions. They receive bitcoins in exchange.
The coins also can be bought and sold on exchanges with U.S. dollars and other currencies. Their value has fluctuated over time.
Because the currency isn’t formally regulated, its legality is a bit fuzzy. The currency has also drawn the ire of many in law enforcement and cybersecurity because it’s difficult to trace, making it a currency of choice for hackers behind ransomware attacks. But in September, New York state regulators approved their first license for a company dealing in bitcoin.
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