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Image: Grams, looks a lot like Google

Image: Grams, looks a lot like GoogleThe Dark Side 2. The Darknet Just Got More Open But Also Darker With Grams Searching PowersThe Dark Side 2. The Darknet Just Got More Open But Also Darker With Grams Searching Powers

The Dark Side 2. The Darknet Just Got More Open But Also Darker With Grams Searching Powers

I’m not sure if Kim Zetter first broke the story about Grams on her Wired article (17 April 2014), but the fact is that it’s out there now.

Modelled on Google, Grams allows users to ‘search multiple dark net markets.’ That apparently means drugs, contraband, stolen credit card data, counterfeit cash, fake IDs and even illegal weapons.

Grams of Trouble

Still in the early stages, this site is only accessible through the Tor anonymizing browser and Zetter gave the address as: grams7enufi7jmdl.onion. It seems that prior to this anyone in the market for the illicit goods needed to know an exact URL and couldn’t browse openly.

The Grams creator talked to Wired but insisted on using his Reddit pseudonym ‘gramadmin’ rather than his real name. I wonder why! He, and it is a he, said ‘I noticed on the forums and Reddit people were constantly asking ‘where to get product X?’ and ‘which market had product Y?’ or ‘who had the best product XY and was reliable and not a scam?’

He reckoned he was motivated by making it ‘easy for people to find things they wanted on the darknet and figure out who was a trustworthy vendor.’

Following the ending of Silk Road (notorious for anonymously accessing similar illegal products) and known then as part of the ‘deep web’, SilkRoad2 is already there, serving up results. Zetter said that ‘Agora, BlackBank, Cloud-Nine, Evolution, NiceGuy, Pandora, and The Pirate Market’ are there too.

What Does Google Think?

At time of writing it’s not clear how Google will respond to this look-alike. It even has an ‘I feel Lucky’ search feature and filters down to ficus on desired listings. There will also be spaces for Google-like adwords advertising as well, so many browsers will feel quite at home.

We also don’t know yet how regulators and criminal investigation agencies will respond to this service and others like it that will surely follow. Blogs and comment threads may not be far behind. Frequent postings on Reddit act as a news service for those interested.

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Blogs on related topics:

The Internet Is Outdated, So Welcome to the Outernet, 8 April 2014

Bitcoins Can’t Buy Me Love, 10 March 2014

The Unwritten Rules of Emails, Texting, Karaoke, Social Media and Blogging, 3 February 2014

Three New Internet Dangers Should Set Alarm Bells Ringing, 17 December 2013

Some People Have Seen the Future: It’s a Legal Minefield, 26 November 2013

Cybercriminals Should Keep Us All Alert, Looking Over Our Shoulders, 22 October 2013

The Digital Economy Is No Longer an Add-On, It IS The Economy, 27 August 2013

Hackers in Smart Suits Seem to Be in a Different League from Ordinary Blaggers, 5 August 2013

Google’s Digital Mirror Reflects the World As It Is, Or How it May Be, 26 June 2013

When Campaigning for Web Freedom Gets Real, Dirty and Personal, 11 February 2013

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Some Unanswerables

This news raises a load of imponderables that nonetheless need addressing within the debate about how open can/should the web really be in a democratic digital world?

  1. Is this just an entrepreneurial response to a free market economy?
  2. Is this the Bitcoin of the underworld?
  3. Should the web be covered in rues and regulations and enforcement?
  4. How do young people and innocent searchers get protected from criminal sites?
  5. Will this facility lead to more police surveillance?
  6. Is there a price to pay for an open web?
  7. Is it worth paying?
  8. Can crime ever be stopped from crossing all boundaries/frontiers now?
  9. What will Amazon do to counteract the sourcing and delivery of these products?

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