General Studies IIISecurity



The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) launched a ‘Darkathon’ for cyber experts to find effective solutions to unravel the anonymity of markets in the dark web.

About Darkathon -2022

  • The initiative aims at involving students, youth and technical experts to find effective solutions to unravel the anonymity of darknet markets.
  • It aims to recognise the financial challenges being posed by drug trafficking during a comprehensive review of NCB and directed to find solutions to this menace.
  • This Darkathon is being organised in three phases starting from February 15 and concluding on 22nd April.
  • The competitors will have to provide a “solution” based on crawling of darkweb to identify and catalog darknet markets selling drugs with a mechanism to automatically add new markets and drop inactive ones, identify drug traffickers based in India and the drugs on sale and digital footprinting of active drug traffickers.
  • The winner of Darkathon will be awarded with cash of worth 2.5 Lakh rupees. First Runner-up will receive 2 lakh rupees while third runner-up will be given 1.5 lakh ruppes.
  • The number of drug seizures from parcel or courier consignments increased by almost 250% in India after the outbreak of the pandemic and a good number of them are linked to drug trafficking through darknet markets.

Significance of Darkathon:

  • Cybercrimes have permeated almost every facet of society and are growing in volume, velocity and sophistication with each passing day, posing challenges to best efforts of law enforcement agencies in India and across the world.
  • Drugs are the most widely offered illegal substance in all of the darknet markets which is directly inactivating the generations.

What is Darknet and Concerns?

  • About: Internet consists of three layers:
    • The first layer is public, consisting of sites that one uses frequently such as Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and LinkedIn. This layer makes up only 4% of the entire internet.
    • The second layer, the deep web, is a network where data is stored in inaccessible databases (i.e. cannot be accessed through traditional search engines like Google). It is used to provide access to a specific group of people.
      • The data is generally sensitive and private (government private data, bank data, cloud data etc), so kept out of reach.
    • The third layer is the darknet which is also known as a part of the ‘Deep Web’. It is a network built over the internet which is encrypted.
      • It is basically a layer of the Internet accessible only by using special software like TOR (The Onion Router), or I2P, which stands for Invisible Internet Project.
      • Anything present on the dark web will not be pulled up in internet searches, thereby offering a high degree of anonymity.
  • Concerns over Darknet:
    • In February 2016, in a study titled ‘Cryptopolitik and the Darknet’, researchers analysed content over the TOR network.
      • Of the 2,723 websites they could classify by content, 1,547 – 57 % – hosted illicit material ranging from drugs (423 sites), illegitimate pornography (122) and hacking (96), among others.
    • There were also reports of log-in details of streaming sites like Netflix being sold on the dark web marketplaces for cheap rates.
    • The network is also used by several activists especially those living under oppressive regimes to communicate without any government censorship.
    • The TOR network was used by activists during the Arab Spring.
  • Darknet and India:
    • The Information Technology Act, 2000 deals with cybercrime and comes under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. There are only six sections in the law that deal with cybercrime.
    • With the changing times, India needs a code of criminal procedures dealing with cybercrime that would come under the Ministry of Home Affairs, which deals with policing issues.
    • Also, there is a need for police, trained in changing cyber trends who are dedicated only to cybercrime and not transferred to other police units.

Drug Menace In India:

  • The menace of drug addiction has spread fast among the youth of India.
  • India is sandwiched between two largest Opium producing regions of the world that is the Golden triangle on one side and the Golden crescent on other.

  • The golden triangle area comprises Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam and Laos.
  • The golden crescent area includes Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran.
  • As per the report Magnitude of Substance Use in India released by All India Institute Of Medical Science (AIIMS) in 2019:

    • Alcohol is the most abused substance in India.
    • Around 5 crore Indians reported to have used cannabis and opioids at the time of the survey (conducted in the year 2018).
    • It has been estimated that there are about 8.5 lakh people who inject drugs.
    • Of the total cases estimated by the report, more than half of them are contributed by states like Punjab, Assam, Delhi, Haryana, Manipur, Mizoram, Sikkim and Uttar Pradesh.
    • About 60 lakh people are estimated to need help for their opioid use problems.
  • More and more children are taking to alcohol consumption and the highest percentage of children who are addicted to alcohol are in Punjab followed by West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.

Challenges to Curb the Drug Menace:

  • Legally Available Drugs:
    • Such as tobacco is a huge problem which is usually seen as a gateway drug which children take just to experiment with.
    • Lack of Availability of Rehabilitation Centres:
      • There is a lack of rehabilitation centres. Also, NGOs operating de-addiction centres in the country, have failed to provide the required kind of treatment and therapy.
    • Smuggling of Drugs:
      • Smuggling of drugs through the states like Punjab, Assam and Uttar Pradesh which share the border with neighbouring countries.

Government Initiatives to Tackle Drug Addiction:

  • It constituted the Narco-Coordination Centre (NCORD) in November, 2016 and revived the scheme of “Financial Assistance to States for Narcotics Control”.
    • Narcotics Control Bureau has been provided funds for developing a new software i.e. Seizure Information Management System (SIMS) which will create a complete online database of drug offences and offenders.
    • The government has constituted a fund called “National Fund for Control of Drug Abuse” to meet the expenditure incurred in connection with combating illicit traffic in Narcotic Drugs; rehabilitating addicts, and educating the public against drug abuse, etc.
    • The government is also conducting a National Drug Abuse Survey to measure trends of drug abuse in India through the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment with the help of National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre of AIIMS.
    • ‘Project Sunrise’ was launched by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in 2016, to tackle the rising HIV prevalence in north-eastern states in India, especially among people injecting drugs.
    • The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, (NDPS) 1985: It prohibits a person from producing, possessing, selling, purchasing, transporting, storing, and/or consuming any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance.
      • The NDPS Act has since been amended thrice – in 1988, 2001 and 2014.
      • The Act extends to the whole of India and it applies also to all Indian citizens outside India and to all persons on ships and aircraft registered in India.
    • Government has also announced the launch of the ‘Nasha Mukt Bharat’, or Drug-Free India Campaign which focuses on community outreach programs.

International Treaties and Conventions to Combat Drug Menace:

  • India is signatory of the following International treaties and conventions to combat the menace of Drug Abuse:
    • United Nations (UN) Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1961)
    • UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances (1971).
    • UN Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (1988)
    • UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) 2000

Way Forward

  • Addiction should not be seen as a character flaw, but as an ailment that any other person could be struggling with. Therefore, the stigma associated with drug taking needs to be reduced. Society needs to understand that drug-addicts are victims and not criminals.
  • Certain crop drugs which have more than 50% alcohol and opioids need to be contained. Strict action is required from police officers and the excise and narcotics department to curb the problem of drug menace in the country. There is a need to strictly implement the NDPS Act.
  • Radical political decisions like that one of alcohol prohibition in Bihar may be another solution. When people do not exercise self-control, a state has to step in, as part of the Directive Principles of State Policy (Article 47).
  • Education curriculum should include chapters on drug addiction, its impact and also on de-addiction. Proper Counselling is another alternative.

Source: Economic Times

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