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Bitcoin Privacy The Almighty Buck

DarkMarket, the Decentralized Answer To Silk Road, Is About More Than Just Drugs 251

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the keep-telling-yourself-that dept.
Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "If you were anywhere near the internet last week, you would have come across reports of 'DarkMarket', a new system being touted as a Silk Road the FBI could never seize. Although running in a similar fashion on the face of things — some users buy drugs, other sell them — DarkMarket works in a fundamentally different way to Silk Road or any other online marketplace. Instead of being hosted off a server like a normal website, it runs in a decentralized manner: Users download a piece of software onto their device, which allows them to access the DarkMarket site. The really clever part is how the system incorporates data with the blockchain, the part of Bitcoin that everybody can see. Rather than just carrying the currency from buyer to seller, data such as user names are added to the blockchain by including it in very small transactions, meaning that its impossible to impersonate someone else because their pseudonymous identity is preserved in the ledger. Andy Greenberg has a good explanation of how it works over at Wired. The prototype includes nearly everything needed for a working marketplace: private communications between buyers and sellers, Bitcoin transfers to make purchases, and an escrow system that protects the cash until it is confirmed that the buyer has received their product. Theoretically, being a decentralized and thus autonomous network, it would still run without any assistance from site administrators, and would certainly make seizing a central server, as was the case with the original Silk Road, impossible."
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DarkMarket, the Decentralized Answer To Silk Road, Is About More Than Just Drugs

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  • by amosh (109566) on Monday April 28, 2014 @07:14PM (#46864377)

    There are a number of things that the Slashdot community - full of nerds and techies - is just stupid and naive about. This is clearly one of them.

    So, defenders of this idea. Mr. "Well, you wouldn't shower in public, so why should your transactions be public," and all people with similar viewpoints - What are the circumstances where you feel that something like this would be useful/necessary?

    And it's not enough to say "I want the gub'ment out of mah bidness!" Because you are not stupid, and you know just as well as I do that there has never been a "black market" in the history of the world that was a force for righteousness and truth. You don't buy a black market gun in the US because you're law-abiding. You know, just as well as I do, that the main reason people will use this is to buy things that are illegal, for uses that are likely to cause harm to someone. So it needs a reason for a reasonable society to allow it to exist.

    This is an honest question and I'm really interested in the discussion. Why should this exist?

  • by amosh (109566) on Monday April 28, 2014 @07:24PM (#46864445)

    It depends - does the guy work for UPS? Probably not.

    Does the guy work for "DARK SHIPMENTS ANONYMOUS - ANYTHING DELIVERED ANY TIME OF DAY TO ANYWHERE, BUT NOTHING ILLEGAL, HEH HEH HEH Incorporated"? If he does, there's a pretty easy case that he's an accessory.

  • by mcphail (859743) on Monday April 28, 2014 @07:28PM (#46864467)

    I doubt there will be any "legitimate" uses of this particular technology.

    However, it may be a model on which we can base future online retail. The existing model is utterly broken: I really don't want databases all over the world holding my username, password, credit card details and billing address waiting for the next SQL or SSL vulnerability to vomit the information into the hands of criminals. Nor do I want to trust, use or respect services like paypal.

    View this as an iteration towards a more secure and decentralised system for legitimate commerce which keeps credit card and escrow companies out of the equation. Surely that is a good thing?

  • Granting the illegal bit, illegal does not equate to "causing harm to someone". Would that it did -- that would be so very rational. However, there are plenty of things one might want to spend money on that are illegal but harm no one but arguably yourself. Drugs is one obvious example, but in many parts of the world buying pornography or sexual toys/aids is illegal, all the way up to being a capital crime. In China or much of the Moslem world, an enormous number of things are illegal that don't harm anyone or anything but the nominal reputation of Islam or Mohammed or Allah, or that represent freedom for repressed majorities like women. We're not really talking only about the relatively permissive US or Western Europe, in other words.

    Of course people will use this to do some things that are directly intended to harm others in non-victimless-crime ways: Steal/pirate and resell IP of various sorts, fence stolen goods, arrange for a hit on your alimony-hungry ex-wife (maybe, dunno if that is a "commodity" it can handle), engage in human trafficking, sell arms. But some people will use it to buy freedom from oppressive governments that have made a whole lot of things that harm no one illegal because they violate some statement made in a piece of pure scriptural crack if you squint your eyes just right when you read it. Because there is rarely any percentage in prosecuting crimes of this sort once one cannot detect them or stop them for long enough for violations to become commonplace, it might even motivate social change.

    To me personally, the tool is not going to be terribly useful. I'm heterosexual and married, my primary vices are at least quasi-legal and tolerated where I live, and I consider buying stolen goods of most varieties to be unethical. It isn't clear that I'd resort to it if I lived in e.g. a Moslem country and had a thing for porn -- no matter how nominally secure, the penalties are pretty horrendous. But I'm guessing that there are those who will value it who aren't planning to use it to hurt others.

    rgb

  • by dutchwhizzman (817898) on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @01:38AM (#46865713)

    I don't want colleagues or (future) employers to know what music I listen to, what my political preference is, where I go for entertainment, what kind of kinky fetishes I might have and such. I don't like targeted ads, since they tend to target me in any situation, private or not, with ads that are also based on my *personal* preferences.

    Even if all I do is legal *now*, it may be illegal in the future and frowned upon when people watch logs.

    Keep in mind that every person commits two felonies and dozens of misdemeanour's every day. If everything you do is tracked, you will get penalized for all af them, putting *everyone* in prison. Laws are there so that if somebody really crosses a boundary that society won't accept, there is a fair reason to put them trough court. If we start to automatically punish everyone for every crime they commit, because we give up privacy, our world stops functioning. We need privacy to remain the default in order to function as individuals *and* as a society.

    Yes, privacy isn't the same as anonymity but in order to remain private in the current society you almost always need anonymity if you're doing it online, so in practice they are synonymous.

  • Re:Eeeehhhhhh (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tom (822) on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @02:04AM (#46865783) Homepage Journal

    Most people use cash because it's fast and convenient, not because it's anonymous. When people use cash specifically for it's anonymity, it's usually to buy drugs.

    [citation needed]

    You assume everyone thinks like you do. Many people don't. I'm not the only person who uses cash for almost all my regular shopping because anonymity. Not because I'm afraid of the police (unless they've outlawed strawberries and tooth paste), but because I don't want corporations to profile me for more targeted advertisement.

  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @02:27AM (#46865843)

    Well, if this client is as crufty and badly-written as OpenSSL (which I've been complaining about for years), then you may have a point.

    Irony: Where you have the skill to completely understand that a major software program is "crufty and badly-written" but don't do anything other than complain about it "for years".

An inclined plane is a slope up. -- Willard Espy, "An Almanac of Words at Play"

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