DarkMarket, billed as “opensource, uncensored, and private” for the next generation of digital black markets, has taken a note from the reddit community and changed its name to “OpenBazaar” in order to improve its public image.
DarkMarket’s intentions and plan were laid out at the Toronto Hackathon in mid-April, where they won a $20,000 first prize
. Darkmarket was conceived by Amir Taaki, who also has a hand in the Dark Wallet.
Taaki introduced the idea in Toronto with a strong comparison to the online market Silk Road, whose inventory at one point was 70% narcotics:
“What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. The early attempts at shutting down centralised file sharing services ended up spawning stronger technology. Like a hydra, those of us in the community that push for individual empowerment are in an arms race to equip the people with the tools needed for the next generation of digital black markets.”
The DarkMarket, ahem, OpenBazaar allows peers to directly and securely connect to make transactions, rather than go through a centralized marketplace a la Silk Road. The technology has no centralized headquarters, meaning authorities would have to track down every OpenBazaar user individually and making it virtually impossible to shut down the entire network.
But what’s in a word?
“Dark Market, the project that took first place at hackathon, should be renamed Free Market. We know that this project will get press coverage, and eventually reach major media outlets. By calling this important invention the Dark Market I'm afraid Amir et all are playing into the systems hands. If the name of the exchange is changed to Free Market, imagine the implications. News anchors will have to say on tv, "Officials are looking into banning the free market."
"The free market is an online exchange where anything can be traded tax free." "Governments are attempting to come down hard against the free market." By renaming the exchange it will FORCE a philosophical conversation about rights upon any explanation in the mainstream media. Please upvote this if you like this idea. To the moon!”
At first Taaki, who has since left the project to focus on others, including Dark Wallet, was reluctant to listen. He stated
in his first reaction to the petition “People need to stop being afraid and reclaim these words of power used to control us. The Dark name evokes great imagery and sounds cool. It’s like when they used to call us pirates to shame us and the pirate party stood up and said, ‘Yeah! we are pirates!”
However, less than a week later DarkMarket has become OpenBazaar. The philosophy of the technology, whether it’s called OpenBazaar, DarkMarket, or Suzie’s Fresh Baked Cookies, should not change the focus of the software hoping to bring secure decentralized markets to the masses. Other implications can be highlighted out from the Silk Road shadow, like the fact that some this will open up a market trading products illegal in one country but not in another. An example given at the Toronto Hackathon was the purchase of asthma inhalers in the US without a prescription.
The focus of OpenBazaar will no doubt be the amount of illegal drugs that could potentially be traded on the market, hence the Silk Road comparisons. Is this the price we should pay for the sake of free markets?