Local cyber detectives discuss dangers of the 'dark web' - KPTV - FOX 12

Local cyber detectives discuss dangers of the 'dark web'

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Portland area cyber detectives are finding it difficult to track illegal activity carried out on the so-called "dark web."

By using a special network called "Tor," users' information is encrypted and run through a series of relays around the globe, making online activities nearly impossible to trace.

The anonymity opens the door for criminal activity, such as child pornography or pedophilia.

"People that are interested in underage sexual acts are looking for underage children, and looking for people that are offering that child," said Detective Chad Opitz, a cyber expert with the Beaverton Police Department.

In March 2015, an FBI sting operation on the dark web led to the arrest of a Vancouver, WA middle school teacher on child pornography charges.

Prosecutors eventually dropped the charges, though, after the FBI refused to release details of its hack that took over the dark web site.

The dark web also offers fake IDs for sale, as well as passports, guns, and illicit drugs.

In February, Portland police tied the overdose death of an 18-year-old east Portland woman to a synthetic opioid she bought on the dark web.

Right now, Opitz and other local cyber detectives can't do much but observe what's available on the dark web, and apply what they learn to activities on open websites, like Backpage.com, a site notorious for human trafficking.

Agencies like the FBI continue to monitor activities on the dark web.

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