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August 25, 2021 at 5:16 pm #36968avacolston260
The darknet – a wild west for fake coronavirus ‘cures ‘? The reality is more complicated (and regulated)
The coronavirus pandemic has spawned reports of unregulated health products and fake cures being obsessed about the dark web. These generally include black darkode market PPE, illicit medications like the widely touted “miracle” drug chloroquine, and fake COVID-19 “cures” including blood supposedly from recovered coronavirus patients.
These dealings have once again focused public attention with this little-understood element of the internet. Nearly ten years because it started being used on an important scale, the dark web continues to be a lucrative safe haven for traders in a variety of illegal goods and services, especially illicit drugs.
Black market trading on the dark web is carried out primarily through darknet marketplaces or cryptomarkets. They are anonymised trading platforms that directly connect buyers and sellers of a selection of illegal goods and services – just like legitimate trading websites such as for example eBay.
So how do darknet marketplaces work? And how much illegal trading of COVID-19-related products is happening via these online spaces?
Not just a free-for-all
There are greater than a dozen darknet marketplaces in operation. Protected by powerful encryption technology, authorities around the globe have largely didn’t contain their growth. A steadily increasing proportion of illicit drug users around the globe report sourcing their drugs online. In Australia, we’ve among the world’s highest concentrations of darknet drug vendors per capita.
Despite popular belief, cryptomarkets are not the “lawless spaces” they’re often presented as in the news. Market prohibitions exist on all mainstream cryptomarkets. Universally prohibited goods and services include: hitman services, trafficked human organs and snuff movies.
Although cryptomarkets lie beyond your realm of state regulation, every one is initiated and maintained by a main administrator who, along side employees or associates, is responsible for the market’s security, dispute resolution between buyers and sellers, and the charging of commissions on transactions.
Administrators will also be ultimately responsible for determining exactly what do and can’t be sold on their cryptomarket. These decisions tend informed by:
the attitudes of the surrounding community comprising buyers and sellers
the extent of consumer demand and supply for certain products
the revenues a site makes from commissions charged on transactions
and the perceived “heat” that could be attracted from law enforcement in the trading of particularly dangerous illegal goods and services.
Experts delve into the dark web
A written report from the Australian National University published the other day looks at several hundred coronavirus-related products available across a dozen cryptomarkets, including supposed vaccines and antidotes.
While the study confirms some unscrupulous dark web traders are indeed exploiting the pandemic and seeking to defraud naïve customers, these details must be contextualised with a few important caveats.
Firstly, the amount of dodgy covid-related products available on the dark web is relatively small. According to this research, they account fully for about 0.2% of most listed items. The overwhelming most of products were those we’re already knowledgeable about – particularly illicit drugs such as for example cannabis and MDMA.
Also, while the analysis dedicated to products listed for sale, these are likely listings for products that either do no exist or are listed with the specific intention to defraud a customer.
Thus, the particular sale of fake coronavirus “cures” on the dark web is probable minimal, at best.