Poll: Strong global majority backs dark Web ban

Roughly 7 in 10 people favor shutting down the so-called dark Web — an anonymous online network favored by activists and dissidents, as well as criminals — according to a new poll.

The findings, from market research firm Ipsos, come amid an intense debate over technology that lets users communicate clandestinely.

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The Ipsos survey polled at least 1,000 people in 24 separate countries. Just over a third of respondents said they “strongly agreed” that the “dark net should be shut down.” Another 35 percent agreed “somewhat” with the statement.

According to law enforcement officials, the dark Web and tools such as encryption have helped criminals and terrorists “go dark,” or hide from authorities. They have pushed tech companies to offer greater access to secure data.

But the tech community has resisted, arguing that such tools are essential to protecting global digital security and online privacy.

The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), a Canadian think tank focusing on Internet governance, commissioned the Ipsos poll.

In posing the question, Ipsos noted that the dark Web can help protect human rights activists, dissidents under oppressive regimes and whistleblowers. But it also pointed out that the anonymous network helps hide underground marketplaces that sell illicit items, including weapons, narcotics and child pornography.

The responses varied by country, but all 24 showed solid support for shuttering the dark Web.

Indonesia was the country most in favor of eradication, with 85 percent support. India, Mexico, China and Egypt were close behind, all at 79 percent or above.

Sweden, South Korea and Kenya all tied at 61 percent for the lowest support for axing the dark Web.

The United States was in the middle of the pack, at 72 percent.

Ipsos said the poll had a range of error within each country of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.