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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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  • Eeeehhhhhh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ralph Wiggam (22354) on Monday April 28, 2014 @07:43PM (#46864177) Homepage

    "Is About More Than Just Drugs"

    But really...it's about drugs. You don't need to sell Beanie Babies anonymously.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pla (258480)
      But really...it's about drugs. You don't need to sell Beanie Babies anonymously.

      And showering in a public bathhouse takes fewer resources than doing it in your own bathroom. You don't need to shower privately.

      I would also point out that cash has more anonymity than any digital currency ever created. Why do you need cash, you goddamned drug-dealing terrorist?

      / tldr: "Need" has nothing to do with it. Uncle Sam has no business in my business.
      • Re:Eeeehhhhhh (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Ralph Wiggam (22354) on Monday April 28, 2014 @08:08PM (#46864327) Homepage

        Your public bathhouse example is terrible.

        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.

        But you can't use cash online. So for non-drug purchases, most people use regular web sites and credit cards.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by pla (258480)
          Your public bathhouse example is terrible.

          So, you didn't make it all the way down to my "tldr" summary, eh?

          "Need" has nothing to do with it. But you've already stopped reading.
          • Did you not read past the first sentence of my reply?

            If you want to go to a huge amount of extra effort to buy legal things anonymously in order to make a point to The Man, feel free. Very few people will be joining you.

            • by dutchwhizzman (817898) on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @02:38AM (#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.

              • by Warbothong (905464) on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @04:51AM (#46866041) Homepage

                I don't want colleagues or (future) employers to know ... what kind of kinky fetishes I might have and such.

                Then why put it right there in your username? ;)

              • Keep in mind that every person commits two felonies and dozens of misdemeanour's every day.

                [Citation needed]

                • It's a paraphrase of Cardinal Richelieu, who not only made the following quote, but practiced what he described: "Show me six lines written by the most honest man in the world, and I will find enough therein to hang him."

                  When the powerful can manipulate their societies into killing as they see fit, it's best to give them as little excuse as possible. The sitting US president claims that he can legally kill Americans on American soil without trial.

        • The property that makes cash convenient in real life is the same one that make it anonymous: it's decentralized. Why should the situation be any different online (excepting technology lag and first-to-market effects)?
        • Re:Eeeehhhhhh (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Tom (822) on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @03:04AM (#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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Bob_Who (926234)

      "Is About More Than Just Drugs"

      But really...it's about drugs. You don't need to sell Beanie Babies anonymously.

      I dunno..... It's probably good policy to sell most babies anonymously....

    • "Is About More Than Just Drugs"

      But really...it's about drugs. You don't need to sell Beanie Babies anonymously.

      Oh yea?
      http://www.deseretnews.com/art... [deseretnews.com]

      Have faith, eventually everything ends up illegal.

      • Have faith, eventually everything ends up illegal.

        Yet the link you include is about the opposite situation.

    • by jafac (1449)

      They're not selling drugs.

      They're selling FREEDOM!!!

    • So it's about drugs. Your point being?

      Personally, I think nobody has a say when someone wants to kill himself using various substances. Everyone has the right to off himself in the most convenient ways.

      • So it's about drugs. Your point being?

        That the headline of the article says the opposite. I don't expect you to read the article, but I do expect you to read the headline.

    • Yeah, there is also Sex, and Rock n' Roll.

    • it could also be guns, credit card numbers, or exploits
  • but I don't realize that the transaction is "I'll buy 6 of your kidnapping victims for my snuff film," then my public key that allows them to rate me as a fine arbiter for the transaction also links me right in as an accessory to murder.
    • But .but........they never arrived! Damn that UPS tracking system......
    • If a UPS delivery guy delivers a gun (without knowing it is a gun, and it looks like ordinary package), and the gun is used to kill someone. Is the UPS delivery guy an accessory to murder?

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by amosh (109566)

        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.

        • Exactly, it requires the delivery person to know that what he does is shady, and can be illegal. This is not possible in a market where both legal (weed is pretty common in these markets and pretty much legal) and illegal stuff can happen.

  • by gweihir (88907) on Monday April 28, 2014 @08:10PM (#46864349)

    Well, if the FBI were smart, then it would have been them writing that software. Or asked the NSA to do it for them. As a bonus, they get all other information on the participant's computers.

    • A little hint: A fair load of people who know how to use disassemblers didn't start out in the IT security business.

      Do you think this piece of software existed for more than a few seconds before it was fed to a DA and analyzed 'til it croaked?

      • by gweihir (88907)

        You are naive. This piece of software has probably not seen one single competent analysis even now.

        • by Nonesuch (90847)

          You are naive. This piece of software has probably not seen one single competent analysis even now.

          You'd be surprised. The union of people who are competent with IDA Pro (and similar tools) and people interested in Bitcoin is a surprisingly large set. Find a provable backdoor in an application like this and you've got yourself a very good candidate for at least a DEFCON talk, maybe a job at Matasano.

          • If you found anything that could remotely point to a hint of something that could resemble anything like this, you can tour the cons for at least half a year.

      • Do you think this piece of software existed for more than a few seconds before it was fed to a DA and analyzed 'til it croaked?

        Yes.

    • You say that as if they aren't behind all of this already? Who's to say that Silk Road, Bit Coin, TOR etc aren't all just honeypot projects for the NSA? I mean if I was in charge that's the way I'd do it. Let all the small players continue doing business on you Darknet until someone gets too big for their boots then you take them out. I know it sounds a bit Hollywood, but it would the most effective means of control.
  • by addikt10 (461932) on Monday April 28, 2014 @08:17PM (#46864399)

    So let me get this straight:
    There is this site. A site designed for illegal activities...
    And all I need to do is load their software onto my computer? Gosh, where do I sign up.

    I mean, I always trust software from shady characters. That sounds totally safe.

    • by Tom (822)

      Really?

      Look, if I were a shady character out to compromise a couple million (the best-case target audience size for a Silk Road replacement) home computers, there are easier ways to do it.

      Write an Angry Birds clone. Send an email saying "free money in the attached file" to a spammers address list. Or just put it on a drive-by website.

      You are attacking a particularily paranoid target audience. If I were a drug pusher, I wouldn't be afraid of other criminals, I'd be afraid that the whole thing is a government

    • Several things:

      1) If you are spending large amounts of money, picking up a 2-300 netbook or websurfer as a burner PC isn't really a big deal. You only use it for that activity. Bonus is you can lock it down with encryption etc... without interfering with your normal PC.
      2) It may be about illegal activities, but not all illegal activities are illegal everywhere. Not all illegal drugs are cocaine or meth. Maybe you want to buy a generic cancer treatment drug from India that costs 200$ rather than 5,000$ dolla

  • by artor3 (1344997) on Monday April 28, 2014 @08:21PM (#46864427)

    If you were anywhere near the internet last week, you would have come across reports of 'DarkMarket'

    Can we get some editors to remove this crap? It's just a stupid marketing gimmick -- "What, you haven't heard of [PRODUCT_NAME]? You must be living under a rock! Everyone who's anyone knows about [PRODUCT_NAME]!"

    • by hodet (620484)

      that's not how slashdot works. This is a truly free speech zone. That's what moderation is for. It buries but never deletes which is a much better system. For those who truly want to read everything set to -1 and fill your boots. For the rest of us set it from 1 to 5 as per your own preference and you can avoid reading totally horrible stuff.

      • by hodet (620484)

        Goddamnit! thought you were bitching about a comment. Nevermind. there are no editors here. baah...back to work.

  • If you get busted this would make excellent evidence...
  • by gnoshi (314933) on Monday April 28, 2014 @09:27PM (#46864743)

    Maybe I'm confused, but it sounds to me like what 'DarkMarket' is doing is irrevocably marking some transactions as being associated with DarkMarket. That strikes me as much like writing 'I was used to buy drugs' on a $50 note except that someone can check the entire transaction history of the $50 note back to the beginning of time.

    I guess it will be interesting for researchers assess the proportion of BC that is being used for dubious purposes (unless you actually believe things like 'banned books' are going to be traded on DarkMarket except at the very margins), and feds who want to find people selling drugs (because BC itself is not anonymous [bitcoin.org]).

  • I've always thought the banking systems should be replaced by decentralized servers, where each individual has a banking server. So instead of going to a central bank for processing, transactions would be issued to the server for the "account" instead.

    I figure the government wouldn't like that much.

    And most people wouldn't like it because you wouldn't have guaranteed deposits with such a system.

    But you could just as easily shift the focus of the banking cartels to being the hosts for such decentrali

  • Wow, what a flawless system! Except...
    You show up in person to buy or sell drugs and it's a sting. You mail them and it gets seized or the target and/or sender gets arrested via tracking. Or you mail them to a central escrow hub that also gets traced and arrested and shut down. What a great set of 3 options.
  • I might be missing something, but isn't it usually easier to get a back door into software than to seize a server? Reading the articles it's using or piggybacking on P2P, but you have to get the software from -somewhere- initially, and I assume there will be updates. Even if those updates are pushed out via the integrated P2P network, I'd imagine there's still ways they could compromise it. And wouldn't the tracking of user names make things more dangerous should the software be compromised?

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