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.