Archive for the ‘Dark Web’ Category

“There will be bacon”

Is this the first verified example of a Red Room?

Is this the first verified example of a Red Room?

It started, as these things are wont to do, on 4Chan or Reddit. A couple of days ago; anonymous people posting anonymously “WHOA! Is this Real??” They gave no explanation, just an onion (i.e. dark web) link. The curious, of course, clicked. And they were greeted with a message:

Screen Shot 2015-08-29 at 3.45.01 pm

It went on to say the site owners had captured seven ISIS terrorists whom they would humiliate (“there will be bacon”), torture and ultimately murder live on webcam at the allotted time and date.

Here, it seemed, the ultimate urban myth, was going to become a reality: The Red Room. The modern version of the snuff movie, a Red Room is a live stream of the torture and murder of a person for the entertainment of others. Sometimes viewers may interact, typing instructions on a screen Think of the movie Hostel and add webcams.

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What do me and Charles Bukowski have in common?

Chuck B

Okay, that may be a little hyperbolic, but for the answer you are going to have to check out my guest blog for the Melbourne Writers Festival.

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Fun fact: the proper technical term for dark web sites is hidden services. It’s easy to forget what this implies, but as I’ve been researching the past couple of months for a new book, I’ve been reminded of how the dark web is designed to work.

There's sites on the Dark Web you - and I - will never see

There’s sites on the Dark Web you – and I – will never see

When people ask what’s on the dark web, those who reply will tell them all about the sites that they found once they downloaded Tor and “went exploring” or “browsing” (usually from finding The Hidden Wiki and clicking on some links). Check out the 11,000 comments on this thread on Reddit to see what I mean. (And for something fabulously weird, somebody for some reason decided to narrate a comment I made)

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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: (more…)

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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It’s been just over a month since Silk Road got seized and Ross Ulbricht, allegedly the site’s founder Dread Pirate Roberts, was arrested. A new Silk Road market has opened up, 24 hours after a false start which saw administration try to get things going at the poetic time of  4:20 pm GMT on 5th November . But is it truly the phoenix of Silk Road, a honeypot or an ingenious con?

This is what visitors will be greeted with at the new Silk Road.  More screenshots below

This is what visitors will be greeted with at the new Silk Road. More screenshots below

Few people imagined that the closure of the largest illicit drugs market in the world would stop people from wanting to procure narcotics. In fact many predicted it would set off the so-called ‘Hydra effect’ – cut off the head and five more spring up in its place. And that’s pretty much what happened.

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Since the arrest of Ross Ulbricht, allegedly Silk Road’s Dread Pirate Roberts, conspiracy theories have been coming thick and fast and they range from the plausible to the absurd.

tin_foil_hat

A lot of them involve his friend Rene Pinnell, for whom Ulbricht relocated to San Francisco – either that Pinnell is the real DPR and set Ulbricht up for the fall right from the beginning, or they are in it together and will provide each other’s reasonable doubt. Then there’s the one that it’s all an ingenious ruse that is going to plan so that double jeopardy laws can be invoked later. Or it’s all a setup so law enforcement can be seen to have done something. Or there’s a good chance of parallel construction of evidence by the authorities.

I’m not much one for wearing a tinfoil hat, though I get a kick out of reading all the theories. But there has been something odd happening, which probably has a totally innocent explanation, but it’s a bit weird.

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