In the space between your IP address and mine are a billion points of access featuring content known only to the initiated. We can’t be exactly certain who first called these hidden information zones onionland or the Dark Web, but we can be certain of their existence and their influence over our lives in unforeseen ways.
Consider for a second simple supply and demand and that literally anything you desire can be found in the hidden marketplaces deep within onionland, and there’s more than enough reason to worry. There are some expressions of desire best left unexamined, but on the Dark Web nothing is verboten. But this isn’t the Dread Pirate Roberts and Silk Road version 2.0. This is far worse. This involves widespread decentralization—a sea of global servers, untraceable in toto, but it is possible to purge the worst excesses.
Naturally, the space was built with the best of intentions. Privacy is important and for reasons that go beyond having things to hide. World governments have proven themselves corrupt and/or incompetent, and along with that often comes cruelty and vicious behaviour, and there was no space for individuals to go and be truly free to pursue their own interests away from government oversight. This is the ethos of the The Onion Routing project, or Tor project, which launched in September of 2002. It could almost be said that the dark web—ostensibly dubbed “onionland” by adherents—was a byproduct of the Tor project, because said router-browser combination was the only gateway.
A secret kingdom complete with its own secret entrance, it’s own marketplace, and it’s own currency of the realm: Bitcoin. Onionland was thought to be the impenetrable, perfect space for privacy seekers to observe true freedom.
Right now, criminals are the only ones who are celebrating, but Bigg Digital Assets (BIGG.C) aims to disrupt their party.
Crime and law enforcement have an unusual relationship. Think of it more like an evolutionary race: if law enforcement builds surveillance into each private discourse, listening to us and watching our every movement for signs of criminal behaviour, then technology will be developed to hide or otherwise obscure those communications. The onus shifts to law enforcement to find a way to track and trace those communications and transactions, and they’ve had some limited success. But the true development for law enforcement came about in following the numbers left behind by Bitcoin transactions, each left indelibly on the blockchain.
There’s a common misconception about Bitcoin’s anonymity carried over and perpetuated from its infancy. Cryptography is designed to mask messages, transactions and information. Ten years ago, bitcoin was a new technology and transactions were little more than a long stream of indecipherable letters and numbers. But each transaction on the bitcoin blockchain carries with it a paper trail of these numbers corresponding to wallets, exchanges and any other point of access. What Bigg Digital does is correlate these long cryptographic strings of numbers with organizations.
Here’s a bit more on how they do it:
They’re looking to teach students how to track, trace and investigate cryptocurrency transactions and/or crimes. There are five modules to a program, and the entire offering takes eight hours of study to complete. Students learn:
- The basics of cryptocurrency — what it is and how it works;
- How dark Web marketplaces and cryptocurrencies work together;
- Understand blockchain technology and how to spot illicit activity;
- How crypto can be used in legitimate and illicit activities;
- Real-world investigation tactics and tools to analyze crypto crimes.
Once students take all five modules and pass the final exam, they will earn the credentials of a certified cryptocurrency investigator. These techniques aren’t limited to law enforcement, but are open to financial investigators and education institutions.
“Through our certified cryptocurrency investigator course (CCI), we show participants how to track cryptocurrencies, as well as related investigation techniques specific to the crypto market. CCI was originally designed for U.S. law enforcement across 48 states and is applicable as accredited hours towards yearly educational improvement. In 2019, we adapted the CCI course content to enhance its usefulness for compliance officers. The response to the CCI designation has been excellent. It also provides tremendous exposure for our other products, QLUE and BitRank,” said Lance Morginn, president of blockchain intelligence group.
It’s only through negligence that the darkest places continue to act as incubators for the worst of human social diseases, but the cliche turns out to be true in this case: sunlight is the best disinfectant.