How The Dark Net Is Making Drug Purchases Safer By Eliminating Associated Violence And Improving Quality
from the hidden-virtues dept
Despite a few daring experiments in the space, the dark net (or dark web, if you prefer) is generally seen as a dangerous, frightening place inhabited by terrorists, pornographers and general ne'er-do-wells. That makes a report in The Guardian about drug dealers moving online unusual, because it shows how the dark net can also be beneficial to society:
Research into internet drug markets by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) suggested the self-regulation of online markets such as Silk Road provide a safer environment for users and dealers of illicit substances.
Moving online not only safeguards drug users from violence and theft when they buy drugs in the physical world, it provides a natural way for customers to provide feedback on the quality of the drugs provided. Just as with traditional e-commerce companies, drug dealers who go digital can no longer risk bad customer reviews by providing inferior or dangerous products, since their future sales are likely to suffer. As a result:
Feedback mechanisms similar to eBay mean customers are able to hold dealers to account for the service they provide, the report said, while remote access to the market almost eliminates the risk of violence that has long been an integral part of the black economy.
Drugs available through darknet markets tend to be of a higher purity than those available on the streets.
The new report comes from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, which is funded by the European Union, and, as usual, is accompanied by an official comment from the relevant EU commissioner. Unfortunately, Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, trots out the usual unthinking reaction to drug sales that has made the long-running and totally futile "war on drugs" one of the most destructive and counterproductive policies ever devised:
We should stop the abuse of the internet by those wanting to turn it into a drug market. Technology is offering fresh opportunities for law enforcement to tackle online drug markets and reduce threats to public health. Let us seize these opportunities to attack the problem head-on and reduce drug supply online.
That blinkered attitude ignores the important advantages moving drug sales from the physical world to the digital one brings not just for for users and dealers, but also for society as a whole, which does not have to deal with the social and economic consequences of violence on the streets, or with the long-term damage caused by poor-quality products. Along the way, his remarks inevitably and unhelpfully reinforce the view that the dark net is evil, and thus is something to be destroyed.