In hinder justice. As social justice is concerned with

In this essay, I will discuss the principles of social
justice and what it represents while linking the dark web and digital
currencies. I will also critically analyse the relationship between law and
justice. As law has the capacity to act upon social justice, law is a valuable
tool as justice is too. Law is a dual function, which can provide a barrier or
even hinder justice. As social justice is concerned with basic institutions
which are in society. John Rawls articulates the principles which: “provide a
way of assigning rights and duties in the basic institutions of society and
they define the appropriate distribution of the benefits and burdens of social

Justice is acknowledged as a contested concept due to the
numerous ways it can be apprehended. There is extensive agreement that justice
is a ‘good thing’, but disagreement about how to understand justice. Essentially
contested concepts are known to ‘inevitably involve endless disputes about
their proper uses on the part of their users’.2 To
define justice is substantially difficult due to the amount of ways it can be
applied, as it is a term we could legitimately claim has a number of meanings.
However, when mentioning injustice, it is not the same, essentially unanimous
agreement injustice isn’t better than justice. Nonetheless, my personal view on
justice derives from the not so clear Aristotle theory. Which states that; ‘This,
then, is what the just is-the proportional; the unjust is what violates the
proportion … for the man who acts unjustly has too much, and the man who is
unjustly treated too little, of what is good’.3 As
I believe that the core purpose of justice is to make certain that no one is breaking
the law, in addition to no one acts as they are above the law and control all
orders. Furthermore, justice in my judgement is about what’s right and the law
is there as more of a guideline of rules which must be followed as activity in
the dark web certainly suggest otherwise. “In this sense Justice denotes a
“moral disposition which renders men apt to do just things and which
causes them to act justly.”4

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Moreover, justice is certainly an umbrella term, as it is an
overarching theme. Justice has three domains of how justice can be
apprehended.  Corrrective justice relates
to the dark web as corrective justice intervenes with criminal justice. “Corrective
justice is the idea that liability rectifies the injustice inflicted by one
person on another”.5
Derives generally on punishing injustice as correcting a wrong, as justice
serves to right a wrong. There is an analogy with the law, as the law has a
role in punishing injustice. In relation to the dark web, corrective justice
intervenes as activity on the dark web is primarily crime. Besides, corrective
justice forbids unlawful actions to be not deemed with justice. Moreover, distributive
justice is another domain of justice. This is the idea common goods are finite
as it asks; how should we distribute wealth, health, education etc. How we might
distribute these goods is where justice comes in. Justice is there to determine
what a fair and jus distribution of these goods are. Lastly, transactional
justice relates to what a just exchange would be in society. Justice is there
to determine what’s a free and fair exchange in society. Corrective justice
implies that activity on the dark web is injustice, as well as drug
trafficking, narcotics and accessing child pornography surely is injustice meaning
something should be done about this.  

The dark web may well be considered inherently illegal due to
the substantial amounts of crime e.g. the selling of narcotics and firearms and
access of child pornography. It is not possible to access the dark web through
mainstream software but only through a special software. As the dark web has
been regarded as a place where is seen law doesn’t seem to apply, everything
goes no rules to follow. This can be regarded as power and freedom as users of
the dark web have absolute no boundaries. One report had said: “The “dark web”
is also often referred to as the “deep web,” but journalists and technologists
who discuss the dark web take pains to distinguish the two. The “deep web” is
defined as all the material online that commercial search engines such as
Google and Bing cannot access.”6 7The
dark web also gives users anonymity allowing them to be untraceable which
clearly is a space where laws and social mores are largely meaningless. ”Criminal
groups have wasted no time in embracing today’s globalised economy and the
sophisticated technology that goes with it. But our efforts to combat them have
remained up to now very fragmented and our weapons almost obsolete.” 8
This statement by law enforcements implies how problematic apprehending
criminals on the dark web really is, as the size of the web is unknown as to
how big it is.

Crime on the dark web is extremely hard to detect, and even
harder to investigate, yet we still do regardless of it being resource
intensive. Why? To do justice of course, as it would certainly be injustice to
not deal with the crime being accomplished. It is undoubtedly clear that the
use of the dark web is primarily for unlawful purposes. Justice is there to
convict and punish the guilty while protecting the innocent. 9

Nevertheless, despite the dark web being resource intensive,
and the number of instances are low the criminal activity which goes on should
not be ignored. The dark web allows enormous amounts of illegal activity to be
proficient, it is inherently illegal due to the substantial amounts of crime
e.g. the selling of narcotics and firearms and access to child pornography. It
was reported that: “Researchers at King’s College London found that 57 per cent
of the sites designed for Tor – known as onion sites – facilitate criminal
activity, including drugs, illicit finance, and extreme pornography”. 10
Moreover, due to the anonymity of the dark web it is difficult to establish
what other crimes are being committed. However, justice very much needs to be
condoned, although resources are limited this does not advocate the fact the
dark web is inherently unlawful. The social good which derives from the dark
web is chiefly the anonymity and autonomy it provides, criminals are seeking to
hide their ‘true’ identity which the dark web conveniently allows.

Additionally, the anonymity and autonomy which the dark web
provides, suggests criminals can keep breaking the law actively with illegal
activity acknowledging that whatever they are doing is untraceable. A former
cybercrime chief stated that: “The Tor network hides criminals. I know it was
not the intention, but that’s the outcome and this was my job, to tell
society what the trade-off is here. By having no possibility to penetrate it,
criminals can continue their crimes on a global network. It’s very, very
difficult for the police to penetrate, so it’s risk-free crime.”11 The
case of Olivia Bolles12
suggests that even one mistake can end everything as despite the number of
instances are low and resources it would be unjus to not end the illegal
activity completely. As in the case of Olivia Bolles, she was caught by an
undercover DEA agent by her mistakes, they traced Bolles through the return
address P.O. box that she provided. Also, Post Net provided the undercover
agent copies of Bolles driver’s license and vehicle registration, as well as
her phone number and VISA credit card. In the P.O. box was a package returned
to owner containing Swedish fish and Xanax, the package revealed that it had
been sent from an automatic postal machine which takes a photo of the sender
and is kept for 30 days, which had matched Bolles. Although, justice was
condoned upon her illegal activity her arrest was kept out of public eye in
which to catch the Dread Pirate Roberts.

The case of Olivia Bolles shows that law enforcements will do
whatever they can to ensure justice is made to criminals. Consequentially, Bolles
was indicted for illegal distribution of drugs. Although, resources are limited
justice is certainly being served to criminals. As in 2014 David Cameron announced
plans to tackle the dark web in which to ‘root out criminal activity’, as he
stated that: “The dark net is the next side of the problem, where
paedophiles and perverts are sharing images, not using the normal parts of the
internet that we all use.” 13  This clearly illustrates that the activity
going on within the dark web is clearly unlawful as to which it is profoundly
affecting society, as criminals have absolute anonymity when committing crimes.
Also, my own perspective on justice also relates to Hobbes; “Legal order is
essential to maintaining the order of civil society; and the institutions of
legal order are structured in such a way that government in accordance with the
rule of law is intrinsically legitimate”14,
as justice surely should maintain law and order too. As the dark web currently
being active in which allowing criminals to exploit any materials of content
with no repercussions is most definitely injustice.

Furthermore, the use of digital currencies has also increased
within the dark web which allows criminals further anonymity to continue
illegal activity. As bitcoin is the most used in dark web for currency handing.
Bitcoin is the world’s first experimental virtual currency which again like the
dark web was created with the intention to be a virtual currency. As one report
had wrote: “Bitcoin has been the de facto currency of the Dark Web – the
‘hidden’ Internet accessible only by Tor – since the pioneering marketplace
Silk Road, the ‘eBay of drugs’, arrived in 2011”.15
Bitcoins value is determined by how much people are willing to pay for it, it
was created with the aim to store and transfer value in a simple, quick and
anonymous way. Bitcoin was majorly involved in the Silk Road16,
as “According to the FBI, Silk Road made a total of $1.2bn between 2011 and
2013. The marketplace is widely understood to be the fist ‘killer app’ for
bitcoin, and drugs still make up a large proportion of transactions made using
the digital currency today”.17 This
illustrates the issues that Bitcoin in the dark web causes as it does not have no
central bank and no government authority, which also generates future problems
as it cannot be traced at all. Definite question marks about Bitcoin’s
scalability. Bitcoin provides tremendous opportunities for criminals to exploit
its interconnectedness, accessibility and anonymity to achieve their illicit
objectives, therefore making it harder for the long arm of the law to reach
them. The anonymity of bitcoin therefore allows for money laundering to become
an upcoming issue as bitcoin offers real unique way for launders to transfer
their funds.

Concept of fairness is closely related to justice but has
that fraction of difference. As Rawls says “‘Fundamental to justice is the
concept of fairness which relates to right dealing between persons who are
cooperating with or competing against one another, as when one speaks of fair
games, fair competition, and fair bargains’.18 Fairness
in the dark web arises from the case of one of the biggest dark web sites silk
road. 19

1 J.
Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Harvard University Press 1971) 4

2 WB
Gallie, ‘Essentially Contested Concepts’ (1956) 56 Proceedings of the
Aristotelian Society 167, 169

3 Aristotle,
The Nicomachean Ethics, Book V, 3, (WD Ross trans, Oxford University Press
2009) 85.

4 Aristotle,
The Nicomachean Ethics, Book 5

5 Ernest
J. Weinrib, Corrective Justice in a Nutshell (2002) 52 University Of Toronto

6 Bergman
MK (2001) The Deep Web: Surfacing Hidden Value. Available at:

7 Robert
W Gehl (2014) Power/Freedom on Dark web: A digital ethnography of the Dark Web
Social Network

Manual on Mutual Legal Assistance and Extradition (2012, New York, United
Nations), 1. Available at:




11 Gordon Corera: What is the dark web and is it a threat? Troels
Oerting; former cybercrime chief

12 United
States of America V. Olivia Louise Bolles aka MDPRO, 6:13-mj-1614

13 Gordon
Corera: What is the dark web and is it a threat? UK Government, David Cameron

David Dyzenhaus Hobbes and the legitimacy of law1 (accepted 13 February 2001)

15 Grace
Caffyn, Bitcoin on the Dark Web: The Facts, Sep 23, 2015;

16 United
States of America v Ross William Ulbricht (2004), 14 Crim068

17 Ibid,

J. Rawls, ‘Justice as Fairness’ (1958) 67 (2) The Philosophical Review 164, 178

19 Ibid,