How Dark Is "The Dark Web"?
Under the rule of law, criminals or those who live on the fringes of the legal system tend to be the first to find and use the latest technological advances, which has a major edge in the criminal underworld over the competition and the authorities, which could be worth millions of dollars. If you wanted to see where the world is headed, take a look into the criminal underworld. In the modern era of technology, that same underworld has become digitalized and is known as "The Dark Web", which is a technological advancement within and of itself.
The Dark Web is easily accessible through Tor web browsers, represents a very rich Bitcoin economy, especially when it comes to transactions regarding illicit drugs and firearms. During the first generation of Silk Road, this marketplace earned more than $1.2 billion in Bitcoin on one website, according to the FBI.
An Infogr.am’s infographic on this same subject focused on Bitcoin’s global leader in mainstream merchant transactions, BitPay, which produces daily transactions worth $435,000. Through 2014, the top six Dark Web marketplaces were bringing in as much as $650,000 a day in transactions. An article from QZ.com about The Dark Web explains that there was a significant growth of Dark Web vendors since the first Silk Road closure, which has jumped up from 1,400 to well over 9,000 in the two years following the closure.
Growing benefits within this community are higher levels of purity and quality of the drugs bought and sold versus what is available on your local street corner. Energy Control, a non-profit organization in Barcelona, Spain who has been doing drug tests since 1998, found that drugs like cocaine, MDMA and speed had a much higher level of purity when found online versus street vending, as fewer hands touch the drug, hence a lesser risk of someone adding other substances and diluting its quality. It also expands the market supply for a greater profit margin.
However, it is not without its down sides. A higher quality product is much more potent than the street version and the dosage would need to be adjusted to avoid overdosage.
While the early Internet primarily had pornography as its primary business market, The Dark Web is built around drugs, but not centered around drugs only, as other niches for sale include things like blueprints, hacking services, counterfeit cash, weapons, surveillance equipment, passports and various ID services.
Is Bitcoin Part Of The Problem?
Blaming bitcoin for drug crimes and money laundering is like blaming dollars for war, which nobody does, because that would be stupid. There was war before dollars, and there will be war after dollars leave the stage. People bought drugs before bitcoin, and will continue to buy them forever with or without bitcoin.
Removing Dark Web market leaders like Silk Road and Agora, which closed in August due to security concerns, is like removing a Ford and GM from the global car market. It just leaves more sales on the table for Toyota and Volkswagen. One major player may go down, and three stores rush to fill the gap, like building websites on the mainstream Internet. It is a growing global economy.
As long as people do drugs, The Dark Web isn’t going anywhere. The facts show it is only growing with each passing day. Also, as history has shown, so is Bitcoin. Like war and U.S. Dollars, the Dark Web and Bitcoin seem to be a marriage that is built to last.