After last night’s 60 Minutes, any parent could be forgiven for barging into their teen’s bedroom and confiscating their computer, terrified that their offspring is accessing the 90% of the hidden internet filled with hitmen, weapons and drugs. Teens everywhere are doing it apparently.

Image: "Dark Web" http://pisceanval.deviantart.com

Image: “Dark Web” http://pisceanval.deviantart.com

The 60 Minutes report is available here: 60 Minutes report on The Dark Web from video.au.msn.com

Whilst parents need to be vigilant in protecting their children, this sort of scare-mongering does nothing to advance the drug debate. Parents would do better educating their kids and being aware of where the true dangers lie in illicit drug-taking: adulterated substances being sold as something else, dodgy clones of well-researched drugs, misinformation about the effects of different types of drugs and potential violence in a drug deal.

Here is an analysis of what I believe the 60 Minutes piece either got wrong, misrepresented or exaggerated: Read the rest of this entry »

For the first time since its original incarnation’s launch in January 2011, Silk Road has been knocked off as the dark market’s leader. It now comes in third.

According to Vault 43, Evolution has 15,851 listings, Agora 15,522 and Silk Road a mere 11,025 listings.

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“While our staff is the largest and most experienced in the darknet, we understand that marketplace diversity is a very good thing for our community,” says current leader of Silk Road, Defcon. “We already have a massive target on our foreheads from international press coverage. We welcome competitors.”

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One of the members of Onionland recently created a searchable version of the original Silk Road forums.  As you do, I went on a little trip down memory lane.

The darkweb Hydra effect.  Image: thedeathmonkee.deviantart.com

The darkweb Hydra effect. Image: thedeathmonkee.deviantart.com

In August 2012 in response to the thread ‘Think Silk Road will be around for a while’ I wrote:

I think that no matter what happens to Silk Road, it will go down in history as a turning point for a rethink of drug policy in the western world.  Now that it has been proven to be such a viable business model, even if it is somehow shut down, clones will pop up in its place within weeks.

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Whilst headlines and fund-raising efforts have been concentrated on Ross Ulbricht, accused of being Silk Road mastermind Dread Pirate Roberts, three other men have been stuck in limbo awaiting their fate outside of the limelight. But the three have been spending that time very differently indeed.

In December last year, three arrests were made concurrently in three different countries under the same indictment. Andrew Jones, USA, was accused of being Silk Road administrator “Inigo”; Gary Davis, Ireland, of being administrator “Libertas”; and Peter Nash, Australia, of being Silk Road forum moderator “Samesamebutdifferent” (SSBD).

Of the three co-accused, one has been in prison the whole time. One is under house arrest. One is basically a free man. But their fates seem to have little to do with the roles they allegedly played in the drugs marketplace.

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‘This could be it. This could be the killer application for bitcoin’ – Free Talk Live host, March 2011

Old School Silk Road... it came a long way

Old School Silk Road… it came a long way

Whilst researching the early days of Silk Road for my book, I came across a wonderful little piece of history: a radio show by Free Talk Live which ran a comprehensive piece on Silk Road on 17 March 2011 – around six weeks after Silk Road had launched and a good two-and-a-half months before Adrian Chen’s Gawker article. At the time, Silk Road had 151 registered users, 38 listings and 28 transactions to date. By the time it was shuttered in October 2013, it had just shy of a million registered users.

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VICE is onto the documentary, yours truly is bringing a book out. But who would’ve guessed that the most notorious online black market in the world could be coming to a theatre near you?

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Emerging playwright Alex Oates plans to bring his one-man play to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year. Like many young writers, he’s hoping to raise the funds for it – at least GBP11,000 – via crowdfunding. But his approach is a little different.

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Games Pirates Play

Posted: March 21, 2014 in Pirates
Tags: , , , ,

Servers in North Korea, America (fuck yeah!) and literally in the clouds, buying their own country and winning an eBay bid to buy… well eBay. The Pirate Bay guys had some good times.

Sometimes Yo Ho Ho became Hee Hee Hee

Sometimes Yo Ho Ho became Hee Hee Hee

Last month I attended a Q&A session with the cofounder of The Pirate Bay (and User No.7), Tobias Andersson. He was one hell of a speaker and entertained the Melbourne Hack’n’Tell group for well over an hour, his speech peppered with jokes and wry observations.

Although Tobias answered questions on all manner of serious subjects thrown at him about copyright, the future of The Pirate Bay and government surveillance, he was most animated when talking about the fun times and practical jokes they played over the years.

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