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When one thinks of the dark web, what comes to mind? For many of us, it’s thoughts of murky underground activities and a very popular thriller film about Cyber-blackmail. Most of us regard the dark web as a shady aspect of the internet experience that “normal” people avoid.
In reality, the dark web is a section of the internet that is inaccessible to traditional browsers. This section of the web also gives users a lot of privacy because their surfing history is generally untracked. Due to this unparalleled level of secrecy, the dark web is home to illicit markets – purportedly selling anything from illegal narcotics to firearms.
All About the Dark Web
The dark web has captivated many individuals because it lets them do anything – even illegal activities – on the internet without the fear of getting caught. However, in reality, people utilizing the dark web for illegal purposes are eventually apprehended by law enforcement.
The sale of narcotics is one of the most prevalent activities on the dark web. When drugs are sold, there is a natural requirement for payment facilitation. Unfortunately, the emergence of crypto-currency presented a great avenue for the Dark Web operators to transact via crypto-currencies, especially tokens such as monero, which are more challenging to trace and provide a high level of anonymity.
Billions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency have been exchanged on the dark web throughout the years, and it looks like it is preferred even more by marketplace operators as more people become aware of it. However, this development has proved to be damaging to cryptocurrency’s acceptance and public perception.
Crypto and the Dark Web
Despite the dark web’s relative anonymity, law enforcement has been able to identify and convict several of the cybercriminals that operate there. One of the most well-known crackdowns transpired when Silk Road, the largest dark web marketplace, was shut down in 2013.
People often refer to the Silk Road as a marketplace for purchasing illicit narcotics as well as a way to spend cryptocurrency. All deals on the platform were performed in bitcoin, which is worth billions. Instances like this have scarred cryptocurrency’s public image.
When such stories are reported on, they are usually sensationalized with headlines like ‘Dark Web Market Makes $xxx Million Selling Cocaine.’ However, as bitcoin and cryptocurrency, in general, became more publicly recognizable, the media started including them in such headlines and narratives.
Source: India Today
The ordinary individual is unfamiliar with cryptocurrencies. While they are unlikely to read an in-depth and well-written explainer to cryptocurrency as a concept, they are likely to recall a headline mentioning bitcoin and the internet drug trade.
Those who are already wary of cryptocurrencies owing to its decentralized nature would be alarmed by any link with the dark web and illicit activities.
If an association with the dark web (which many already identify with shady dealings) accounts for a sizable amount of coverage around cryptocurrencies, it risks repelling potential consumers. It is also in danger of driving away major investors who could be concerned about its validity, not least since leading entrepreneurs like Warren Buffet have previously called crypto-currency a scam.
If cryptocurrency is to reach new heights of adoption and acceptability, it must make a concerted effort to disassociate itself from the dark web, particularly in its media depiction.
The simple solution to this is educating the masses. People tend to be skeptical of things they do not understand.
Consider this, Bitcoin came into existence in 2009, Darknet, or Dark Web, existed before the 2000s. It’s not that cryptocurrencies are to be blamed here for promoting illicit activities. Fiat has been fuelling such activities way before Bitcoin was an idea inside Satoshi’s head. Wouldn’t that mean fiat currencies are equally as bad as cryptocurrencies? No.
It’s not the weapons of mass destruction that start a war, rather those that wield it.
In my opinion, the only reason bad actors prefer cryptocurrencies is that the technology is far superior. Moreover, paper currency is quite hard to track, while cryptocurrencies give you the ability to keep an eye on each and every transaction. In the end, it’s all about how we perceive this technology. Instead of shunning cryptocurrencies, we must look to drafting regulations to help mitigate illicit activities.