Dark markets have evolved to use encrypted messengers and dead-drops


Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/01/14/drone-serviced-dead-drops.html


Now this is the kind of fascinating stuff that I read BB for. Thanks, Cory!




The Amazon of the future, today.


Who knew my years of geocaching would turn into a marketable skill? :+1:


Obligatory Gibson: The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.


It’s interesting how the serious trust and reputation issues amongst these shady and dishonest characters are driving innovations that might one day become standard in mainstream e-commerce. It’s similar to the way that pornographers pioneered a lot of now-common media technologies when mainstream companies wouldn’t do business with them.


This still doesn’t get around the basic problem of compliance.

If you make a deal to buy a good (or a bad), how do you enforce the terms? For most of us there’s the whole infrastructure of law enforcement, which has its problems, but it does discourage outright fraud.

For dealers in criminal goods, that system won’t work, which is why the most successful criminals are the most violent. El Chapo didn’t get to be El Chapo by paying his taxes.

The Dark Web wants it both ways - to have contracts always work out, with no violence and no cops. This might explain why cryptocurrency markets are regularly hacked.


That’s not a bad goal to aspire to, and while the innovations won’t solve all problems they do mitigate them and may be useful in legitimate mainstream markets. The real problem is that in any unregulated market, however lofty its ideals, eventually the real thugs always show up with their weapons and muscle to take control. This is a concept that Libertarians never grasp.


My point exactly. Enforcement will not be necessary, in the Kingdom of Heaven.


Yeah, somewhere they have to balance anonymity with the ability to hurt people who screw them over. It’s either centralized or distributed. If it’s centralized then you’re vulnerable to the “center” being discovered. If it’s distributed then whatever you do to pierce anonymity, ultimately, someone else can do.

It’s an arms race between criminals and police. No one can ever win.


Possibly - but Amazon will still have to deliver to my home. I’m not going on a scavenger hunt through Fairmount Park for my next replacement coffee pot.


Serious thought:

In other words, basic WWI (and earlier) era spycraft. Except instead of a horde of low level staffers beavering away to provide a single field agent with secure methods of communication and resupply, all it takes today is one or two guys with some WIFI/bluetooth gear and the right apps to provide the same degree of security to hundreds of customers.

Frivolous thought:

It is sad to think of all the machine gun makers who will be put out of work by these developments, especially in Hong Kong:

(that should start at the 1:20 mark)


But it would be so fun!

Seriously, though, what with all the porch pilferers, you might be surprised at how some of the innovations inspired by these criminals eventually find their way (as they are wont to do) into mainstream capitalist commerce.


Well I read it to learn that Dark Meerkats have evolved to use encrypted messengers etc. etc. Thanks a lot for not making my day boingboing!


Seems like with the routine of making drops, having them picked up and dropped elsewhere,rinse, repeat, it just increases the risk of someone observing the drop and picking it up for themselves.

I guess this is where we’ll just have “enforcement” watching over things to make sure the correct people do the pickups, but then who watches them? Seems to get awfully labor intensive.

Seems like coded lockers for the drops would be simpler and you’d just need an enforcer to prevent forced access to them. Oh, like Amazon lockers.


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