[tor-talk] Terminology: Deep v Dark Web

Katya Titov kattitov at yandex.com
Sat Jan 25 08:44:11 UTC 2014

Hi all,

I have a question or two about terminology in use when discussing
non-indexable portions of the web.

Relevant terms I see are "deep web" and "dark web", with occasional
references to "dark Internet". Definitions which I use, and which seem
to be reasonably popular are:

  - Deep web:      Sites not easily indexable (dynamic pages, pages
                   not referenced from others, sites hidden behind
                   authentication, etc)
  - Dark web:      Sites not accessible from the open Internet (Tor
                   hidden services, I2P eepsites, etc)
  - Dark Internet: Unroutable IP space (unallocated, sink holes, etc)

If I am correct about these definitions then statements such as the
following the recent Businessweek article[0] are a little misleading:

  In addition to facilitating anonymous communication online, Tor is an
  access point to the "dark Web," vast reaches of the Internet that are
  intentionally kept hidden and don't show up in Google or other search
  engines, often because they harbor the illicit, from child porn to
  stolen credit card information.

References to illicit material are probably unavoidable, however one
thing which may be addressable is the definition of "dark web" which
often seems to imply that it is enormous. (That's assuming that the dark
web isn't actually enormous, and to my reckoning it doesn't appear to

So are there any useful stats on the size of the dark web? (And the
deep web for that matter.) ISTR EFF discussing the deep web years ago
but can't find a reference (and I may be getting confused with their
Deeplinks blog); and I've rediscovered Andrew's report from 2012[1]
noting that the dark web is often seen as being "dark and scary".

If there were some stats which pointed out, e.g., that the deep web
(including all those non-indexable pages in those big corporations
where many work) is far larger that the regular Internet, and that
*that* is far larger than the scary and illicit dark web, it may be
useful for putting things in perspective. I realise that such stats
would be hard to get, but assuming that some approximation is available
it may make a good reference.

(Current stats that I can find (e.g. [2],[3] as a random sample) seem to
indicate that the deep web is 500 times larger than the public
Internet without any real references; Wikipedia provides some quite old
stats[4] but no comparisons (and confuses the terms "deep web" and
"dark web"); and I can't find anything useful for the dark web.)

I can put together a wiki/FAQ article if there's some interest.



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