[The following post is by TDV Chief Editor, Jeff Berwick]
Online anonymous marketplaces create a wonderful place for people to engage in as close to a free market situation online as they can get. It's not perfectly free, of course, because in a truly free market these players wouldn't have to worry about people in costumes with guns (police) coming after them and throwing them in a cage. As the world has seen, there is incredible demand for online anonymous marketplaces.
Silk Road and the many websites like it on Tor make this point clear. People want to have access to peer-reviewed things like marijuana, mushrooms and other so-called "illicit" goods. But government doesn't believe these people should be putting such things in their bodies, and instead of going after international syndicates trafficking women (even little kids... who mostly go to the political elite themselves... which explains why!), they go after twenty-somethings who were foolish enough to remain in the US and create a free market simulation on the darknet.
As time has gone by, we have been given more-and-more reason to be suspicious of Tor's usefulness and security, and TDV has followed this trend. Last week re-confirmed these suspicions. The Tor network has reportedly been “decloaked.” The Tor project itself is trying to figure out how law enforcement has seemingly managed to crack Tor. In the meantime, all of these sites have been taken down.
One of the websites is Silk Road 2.0, which met its end last week with the other sites as international law enforcement cracked down on anonymous marketplaces online as part of Operation Onymous - a joint operation between 16 member nations of Europol, the FBI and US Immigraation and Customs Enforcement. 17 arrests were made were made. 27 websites were seized.
We’ve written before about the uncertainties and dangers around using Tor. In our July article “What Few Know About Tor Might Shock You.” We highlighted these numbers:
Tax documents released this month revealed that the Tor Project received over $1.8 million from the US government in 2013, with $256,900 coming directly from the State Department, with an additional $555,413 coming from Internews Network, a "pass-through" organization for State Department money.
In fact, $830,269 of Tor’s budget came from the US Department of Defense, including for helping the US military with “communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.”
It is fairly common knowledge that Tor was developed by the Navy to help US diplomats and spies to communicate anonymously from foreign locations. The developers were aware that the private sector would likely also use this technology but it was initially developed for the US government. But what was less well-known until recently was that Tor was still receiving funding from the world's largest terrorist organization - the US government- of $1.8 million per year. This means that Tor developers are on the US government payroll, and have been.
We also wrote in the article that, according to an anonymous source of TDV's, in the summer of 2012, the amount of Tor nodes doubled in about a month. He posited this could be law enforcement setting up Tor nodes for a reason very similar to Operation Onymous.
A theory posited by some of the darknet operators whose websites were taken down by law enforcement believe that a DDOS attack against darknet websites would have forced some of each website’s traffic over various Tor nodes. If law enforcement owned some of these nodes, they could then see the true IP address of Tor hidden services, including the traffic from users or sellers.
We concluded in our July article on Tor:
At The Dollar Vigilante (TDV), we believe the future lies in darknets but warn to be wary of Tor and to look to other open source peer-to-peer networks, many of which are just evolving, rather than to leave your trust in an organization that was not only founded via the stolen funds (taxes) of the US government but still is to this day.
One of the last anonymous online marketplaces, Evolution, is still online. This is one that does indeed seem next level compared to many of the other online anonymous marketplaces. Even still, TDV is not 100% convinced that Tor in its entirety is viable.
We are more excited for new technologies like OpenBazaar. As OpenBazaar writes of its own project:
OpenBazaar is a new way to trade online. By running a program on your computer, you can connect directly to other users in the OpenBazaar network and trade with them. This network isn’t controlled by a company, it’s a decentralized network that isn’t run by any organization at all. This means there are no mandatory fees to pay, and that your trade in censorship-resistant. OpenBazaar uses Bitcoin, a digital currency that is also cheap to use, decentralized and censorship-resistant.
Decentralized and distributed networks are the wave of the future. Soon, there will be no need for hierarchies or authorities because all of them will have been made irrelevant via BlockChain technology. This is one of our favorite trends at TDV and something we do write about in our TDV Newsletter. There will be billions made off of pushing the internet forward with distributed technology. Tor might not need to be part of that future.
This will be one of the important topics at the upcoming Anarchapulco conference in Acapulco from February 27-Mar 1st. Leading edge pioneers of decentralization such as Cody Wilson (3D Printed gun, Ghost Gunner, Dark Wallet), Roger Ver (the Bitcoin Jesus) and Susanne Tarkowski Tempelhof (Bitnation - decentralizing all government functions) will be there on the beach discussing the way forward.
The plans of the elite and those who currently try to control this world are a one world government. In other words, extreme centralization. This will create an entire prison planet where all will be enslaved to the rulers. The plans of those who oppose them are to put the power with the people. Eventually 7 billion sovereign governments on Earth. In other words, extreme decentralization.
The centralizers use violence and theft to affect their change. The decentralizers use non-violence and empowerment.
Right now it is an epic struggle... but one that will eventually be won by the crypto-anarchists. There is an old saying in the bible, the meek will inherit the Earth... I'll bet they never imagined it would eventually be won via cryptocurrencies and anonymous decentralized darknets!