Terrible Coindesk Coverage of Darkleaks’ Terrible Idea

As I noted in an earlier post, the Bitcoin blockchain is attracting “innovative” businesses, including “gaming” and espionage.

The latter has attracted more than one competitor, including a newly announced “Darkleaks“.  The concept is to use the Bitcoin blockchain to run a “decentralized” market for secret information.  Darkleaks seems to think this is self evidently a good thing, though I have trouble seeing why I want it.

The pitch is patronizing to the point of unconscious parody, stating

We give the world a new scheme for selling information of any type, form or kind. This is a gift for you to stop corruption and challenge power.

So what kind of information would we expect to see here in our crusade to “stop corruption and challenge power”?

  • Hollywood movies
  • Trade secrets
  • “Government secrets
  • Proprietary source code
  • Industrial designs like medicine or defence
  • Zero day exploits
  • Stolen databases
  • Proof of tax evasion
  • Military intelligence
  • Celebrity sex pictures
  • Corruption”

It’s clear that this is about profit, not about freedom fighting. Freedom to steal and extort, maybe. But no legitimate political purpose is served by distributing celebrity pictures, and stealing proprietary information and exploits is, in fact, a corrupt behavior.

I was surprised by the uncritical coverage in CoinDesk of this clearly antisocial and dangerous idea.

It might be in a legal grey area, but the team maintain the platform is, above all else, ethical. Grayce Caffyn describes the technical “innovations” (which are taken from existing P2P data nets), and quotes Darkleaks verbatim.

She also reports that

“It might be in a legal grey area, but the team maintain the platform is, above all else, ethical.”

Huh?  Is this a quote from “ZozanCudi”?  Or is this Caffyn’s own analysis.  Either way, it is an outrageous and arguably false statement, which CoinDesk should not put forward without comment.

First, fencing stolen property is not a “grey area”, it is illegal (and, by the way, wrong).  And second, there is nothing at all “ethical” about making a profit off theft, extortion, and misery.   Tsk.

An even more important point is that, as the Bitcoin blockchain becomes more and more infested with betting and black market commerce, it will become more and more difficult for legitimate people, businesses, and organizations to use Bitcoin.

At the very least, it is a terrible branding problem, and a terrible stain anyone who cares about their reputation. Legitimate people will not want to be anywhere near this stuff.

At worst, it means that processing the blockchain is abetting criminal activity.  A lawyer might point out how broadly the RICO laws are interpreted in the US:  since you can’t tell what is what, and you can’t just process selected parts of the blockchain, a cautious person might avoid anything to do with it.

These developments are terrible news for Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and blockchains.  I wish CoinDesk was a lot more thoughtful in their coverage.


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