Category Archives: drugs

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Tech Giants Take on Opioid Addiction with DLT

IBM has announced that it is now planning to use a blockchain-enabled health surveillance system in order to collect data on antibiotics and opioids prescriptions by doctors.

Opioid prescription abuse is becoming a problem worldwide with figures showing that their illicit use has now overtaken heroin. Globally, prescription opioid pain relievers are now among the most commonly misused and abused medicines.

IBM’s blockchain system is now making it easy for public health agencies to track both medical practitioners and their patients in order to try and stem this new epidemic of drug misuse. The healthcare industry is seeing several attempts at developing secure digital platforms for the exchange of patient data, believing that blockchain-based solutions may have the potential to vastly improve current data sharing systems in national hospitals.

Healthcare and clinical research is an expanding area as doctors and hospitals increasingly need secure access to a patient’s entire health history. This new, rapidly evolving field provides fertile ground for experimentation, investment, and proof-of-concept testing.

The implications for the industry are endless. New platforms are emerging almost daily such as a diagnostic blockchain infrastructure aimed to host, train and use artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare, and a blockchain-powered platform designed to track and protect pharmaceutical data.

Prominent healthcare professionals are also growing increasingly confident that DLT has what is required to vastly improve the security of current centralized forms of data storage, which have been vulnerable to hackers attempting to steal patient data for sale on the black market.

IBM has, for some time now, been looking at applying blockchain solutions to the healthcare industry through its work with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At the end of last year, its chief science officer Shahram Ebadollahi acknowledged how relevant blockchain and AI was becoming in the industry.

“Blockchain is very useful when there are so many actors in the system… It enables the ecosystem of data in healthcare to have more fluidity, and AI allows us to extract insights from the data. Everybody talks about big data in healthcare but I think the more important thing is long data.”

Since then, CDC has run several pilots and is urging the healthcare community to take up the mantle. Another computer giant, Intel, has done exactly that, working with McKesson and Johnson and Johnson to use DLT to trace the pill supply chain. Intel’s Director of healthcare privacy and security commented that the tech could “vastly reduce the opioid epidemic” adding, “I would not say this will eliminate the opioid problem, but this will help.”

Another player in the healthcare space, the leader in blockchain healthcare solutions, Hashed Heath, maintains that blockchain’s most significant asset apart from the obvious tracking advantages, is that a “decentralized database of test results with free access to this data” prevents global duplication and enhances research by others moving forward.


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Cryptocurrencies and Gun Crime in Canada

In a recent post in The Canadian Press, police warned that criminals are using the underside of the internet, unknown to the average user, to facilitate gun crime, drugs, malware and stolen data. As purchases were facilitated by hard-to-track cryptocurrency, the Trudeau government is insistent on tightening laws on so-called dark web use.

Law enforcement has made many significant movements in the past, such as shutting down one of the largest dark markets in the world, Silk Road. However, others have popped up in its place. One of these, Berlusconi Online Market, which at the time of writing, had 234 listings for weapons such as, AR-15 rifles, AK-47s and many other types of handguns.

Along with illegal selling of weapons, there were listings for opioids, heroin, cocaine, malware, and stolen data.

It gets even more sinister, with the sale of depleted uranium, radioactive Polonium-210 and deadly poisons like Ricin. With these darknet vendors able to ship worldwide, anybody could illegally own a firearm or some other illicit entities. The darknet community is known for stealth shipping, which disguises or hides the contents from any law enforcement or border control units.

Is cryptocurrency the problem?

In the current schematics of the new age of digital technology, TOR (derived from “The Onion Router”) was born, known for its anonymity. Used by activists, journalists, whistleblowers and even governments to shield top-secret content, it has also allowed dark web vendors to set up shop. With Bitcoin one of the primary-accepted currencies on the darknet, this obscures the transactions from being tracked, giving an extra layer of anonymity to the buyer/seller.

Rob O’Reilly, interim director of firearms regulatory services at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) stated that “such currencies present a real challenge for law enforcement because it doesn’t physically reside somewhere, making it hard to trace without special, costly software and highly trained personnel to do the work.”

While it may not be a crypto-based problem, as gun sales and illicit sales of substances happen all over the internet, police need to be trained on a regular basis, with an in-depth look into the digital era.

The bigger picture

As illicit activities happen globally, the defamation of currency or an asset should not be held accountable for actions of others.

While governments focus on cryptocurrencies and the darknet as a significant problem, the US gun-related death toll is approaching 40,000 deaths per year, and the guns causing them are not all bought on the darknet. In 2016, a record number of guns was sold closing in at around 27 million firearms. Gun sales take place between private parties and gun shows, which do not require any background checks.

Others blamed the US dollar when WikiLeaks confirmed Hilary Clinton sold weapons to the Islamic jihadists. The WikiLeaks transcript stated: “Clinton took the lead role in organizing the so-called “Friends of Syria” (aka Al Qaeda/ISIS) to back the CIA-led insurgency for regime change in Syria.Under oath, Hillary Clinton denied she knew about the weapons shipments during public testimony in early 2013 after the Benghazi terrorist attack.

It is also important to note that cold hard cash (which is truly untraceable and does not possess a public ledger) is still the currency of choice for criminals, and is used for the vast majority of illicit transactions worldwide. A U.S Treasury official has gone on the record stating this, and the actual figure is probably close to over 99% of black market transactions worldwide using cash.

As illicit activities happen globally, the defamation of currency or an asset should not be held accountable for actions of others. If Bitcoin is responsible, then so is the dollar.



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Brian Krebs – Feds Arrest Silk Road Founder, Shutter Website

Brian Krebs – Feds Arrest Silk Road Founder, Shutter Website:

Security expert Brian Krebs (@BrianKrebs) was first with news that the FBI had taken over the Silk Road marketplace website and later that the site’s founder was arrested by U.S. authorities. Excerpts:

“Federal agents in San Francisco arrested the Silk Road’s alleged mastermind. Prosecutors say 29-year-old Ross William Ulbricht, a.k.a “Dread Pirate Roberts” (DPR), will be charged with a range of criminal violations, including conspiracy to commit drug trafficking, money laundering, computer hacking and murder for hire.”

“[The FBI’s big break came] on July 23, 2013, when investigators gained access to a Silk Road server and made a complete copy of the data on the machine.”

“Finally, DPR tripped himself up when he ordered some fake IDs from an international Silk Road vendor and had them sent to his residence. The fraudulent IDs were intercepted at the border by customs agents working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which paid a visit to the address to which the documents were to be delivered.”

“Ulbrich graduated from the University of Texas with a bachelors degree in Physics in 2006, and that from 2006 to 2010, he attended graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania School of Materials Science and Engineering.”

“The government also announced today that pursuant to this action, it has also seized approximately 26,000 Bitcoins worth roughly $3.6 million, in what it’s calling the largest ever seizure of Bitcoins.”

 – (Further discussion on the topic)

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