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The darknet – a wild west for fake coronavirus ‘cures ‘? The reality is harder (and regulated)
The coronavirus pandemic has spawned reports of unregulated health products and fake cures being obsessed about the dark web. These include black 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 section of the internet. Nearly a decade as it started being applied to a substantial scale, the dark web remains a lucrative safe haven for traders in a selection of illegal goods and services, especially illicit drugs.
Black market trading on the dark web is carried out primarily through darknet marketplaces or cryptomarkets. These are anonymised trading platforms that directly connect buyers and sellers of a range of illegal goods and services – similar to legitimate trading websites such as for instance eBay.
So just how do darknet marketplaces work? And just how much illegal trading of COVID-19-related products is happening via these online spaces?
Not a free-for-all
There are currently greater than a dozen darknet marketplaces in operation. Protected by powerful encryption technology, authorities all over the world have largely didn’t contain their growth. A steadily increasing proportion of illicit drug users all over the world report sourcing their drugs online. In Australia, we’ve one of many world’s highest concentrations of darknet drug vendors per capita.
Despite popular belief, cryptomarkets aren’t 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 outside the realm of state regulation, each one of these is established and maintained by a main administrator who, along side employees or associates, is accountable for the darkode market – https://bbdeals.net/community/profile/kiamunday316783/’s security, dispute resolution between buyers and sellers, and the charging of commissions on transactions.
Administrators may also be ultimately in charge of determining what can and can’t be sold on the cryptomarket. These decisions are likely informed by:
the attitudes of the surrounding community comprising buyers and sellers
the extent of consumer demand and supply for many products
the revenues a website 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 in to the dark web
A written report from the Australian National University published a week ago looks at several hundred coronavirus-related products on the market across twelve 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, this information should really be contextualised with several important caveats.
Firstly, the number of dodgy covid-related products on the market on the dark web is relatively small. According to this research, they take into account about 0.2% of listed items. The overwhelming majority of products were those we’re already familiar with – particularly illicit drugs such as for instance cannabis and MDMA.
Also, while the research dedicated to products listed on the market, these are most likely listings for products that either do no exist or are listed with the precise intention to defraud a customer.
Thus, the specific sale of fake coronavirus “cures” on the dark web is probable minimal, at best.
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