The whole internet world is divided into 3 categories i.e. Surface Web, Deep Web & Dark Web. Watching videos on YouTube, scrolling news feed on Facebook, sending emails are the example of Surface Web. Deep Web refers to content which in not indexed by any search engine. For instance, the file inside our Google Drive, Website’s Cpanel, classified information of government etc. Where, the Dark Web is the World Wide Web content that exists on darknets, overlay networks that use the Internet but require specific software, configurations, or authorization to access.
It is not illegal to simply “browse” the dark web, in theory, unless you are looking at sites hosting banned content such as child pornography, trafficking sites.
There are also many websites that sell drugs, firearms and stolen goods, but even if you are on such a site, simple browsing is not illegal. On the other hand, buying something is because you intentionally receive stolen goods or deliberately to buy illegal products.
It also depends on which country you access the dark web, of course. In the United States, for example, there are far fewer restrictions on websites that you can visit than, for example, North Korea. In a country with a more intrusive government, you would want to pay more attention to the websites you visit.
Many websites have been closed by federal agencies in the United States (for example, the FBI, ICE, DEA). However, a lot of them would have been involved in the narcotics and firearms trade. Whether or not it is forbidden to browse these sites simply. Yet, it makes a big difference if you buy something on one of these markets or if you are one of the site’s webmasters.
It is not illegal to browse the Dark Web thoroughly. It depends on the sites you access and what you view and buy.