Hacker News Re-Imagined

Dark Web – Justice League

  • 326 points
  • 13 days ago

  • @scottmessick
  • Created a post

Dark Web – Justice League

@flatiron 13 days

Replying to @scottmessick 🎙

I live in NJ where weed is legal but you can't buy it (legally) so we are sort of in a weird spot.

anyway, it makes me really not care about ordering weed on the dark web from CA. if the feds catch it, its an ounce of weed to a residence, they don't care and im not gonna go in front of some federal judge on federal drug crimes. if CA or NJ catch it, its legal there, who cares.

but the site I use uses an escrow system where if you don't get the product or if you aren't satisfied you can file a complaint. i've never used it as i always have gotten what i've ordered but it is pretty odd.


@UIUC_06 13 days

The lengthy discussions about what qualifies as "anarchy" is a perfect illustration of why anarchists (and libertarians) never take power.

The devotees are more interested in being correct and arguing with each other than in the messy business of making coalitions and keeping them together.


@unixhero 13 days

Kind of like the Vikings.


@vmception 13 days

Do yourself a favor and demystify the dark web for yourself.

Some of the best information is exclusively nestled in forums and marketplaces over there.

If you rely on an incentive model of being caught in order to behave, something darknet doesnt offer, that says more about you than anyone else.


@31414114 13 days

Obviously I am posting this from a throw-away (also, hail qubes) and am obscuring a few facts. Over a decade ago I was part of a illicit forum where goods and services were sold, and both parties had mandatory escrow with optional arbitration. Over my runtime I have settled between 1 and 100.000 ( ;) ) arbitration cases, ranging from a few cents to well over $100k. For those who may think they know what operation this was ... you probably never heard about it. All I can say that it wasn't ransomware, and nothing porn or trafficking related.

The entire topic interested me so much that I went our IRL to take courses in settling disputes and handling arbitration. Based on that I established rules to arbitrate and settle disputes by. Rules for both parties to interact, prior to sale of service/product and during arbitration.

Some cases took minutes to hours to settle, others days or weeks, sometimes even months. Sometimes people get incredibly emotionally involved for a few dollars, sometimes disputes for well over what I earned in a year, where solved by both parties only giving (yes/no) answers to my questions and inquiries, for them to request deletion of their accounts after the dispute was settled. The contents being mostly obscured by encryption, but only my rules allowed their commerce to flow in the first place.

I was tempted often to step in and steal money, but something told me that sitting out the experience would be so much more valuable for my moral compass and the understanding of people. I am happy it went that way, it did teach me so much about people, disputes, conflicts and problems. Now when I face problems and difficult characters in life, its like I have a cheat code of handling the situation.

The other thing I did learn during my ... lets call it 'tenure' was that this type of trade and commerce brings out the darkest characters and the darkest in people. That's another topic on its own ... I am happy to see this get attention on HN. This sort of "justice" has been around since the early 00's, preceding most darknet markets. And somehow I keep being drawn to them ... well until I got scared of by the FEDS (who of course always were around, and sometimes did bust people during ongoing disputes) and then my tenure was over. Good luck to those still in the game.


@smm11 13 days

And nobody wants to make a comment.


@maxwell_xander 13 days

Ha, these articles always use xss.as instead of exploit.in, despite the latter being vastly more popular and appropriate, because exploit.in charges $100 for membership.

I sympathize because, who wants to shell out $100. But even big name news outlets all use xss.in, you see it everywhere, precisely because it's free and anyone can join. Nothing wrong with using it really, just something amusing I've noticed


@nashashmi 13 days

This makes a whole lot of sense. How can a transaction happen if reputation is not vouched for or established? It is why crooks start building networks and start asking lots of questions about groups. Wherever there is a case of money , there is an angle for reputation building. For the more mature, they categorize this as acceptable losses.


@chris_wot 13 days

Yeah, this will eventually go wrong. It's inevitable that someone will work out how to socially game this system.


@galaxyLogic 13 days

This can only point to one thing - Dark Web will have its own Darker Web which doesn't abide even by the rules of the Dark Web. It will however have its own rules, and justice. And so on, recursively.


@reggieband 13 days

There is a comic I remember from my childhood, "Tom the Dancing Bug" written by Ruben Bolling. He had a character called "Harvey Richard, Lawyer for Children". I linked a couple of examples [1], [2], [3], [4] but the satire, IMO, is incredible. It lampoons humanities proclivity to layer pseudo-rationality onto the irrational things that we do.

It also reminds me of the TV show "The Wire" when Stringer Bell, a senior member of a street drug distribution ring of urban thugs, forces them to conduct their meetings using Rules of Order. [5] If you watch to the end, you see that in those circumstances order means nothing, it is just a facade.

I guess you could say that I'm cynical about the prospects of such a court and I tend to see the underlying truth in the satires that point it out.

1. https://www.gocomics.com/tomthedancingbug/2015/02/26

2. https://www.gocomics.com/tomthedancingbug/2014/12/25

3. https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/545850417313484171/

4. https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/178807047675716661/

5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xO1zxPRRf4g


@guerrilla 12 days

Funny, my friend and I were just talking about this kind of thing last night. I've been watching lots of Soft White Underbelly[1] interviews with gangsters, mafia , etc. and my friend's been reading about the transition from honor culture to state obedience in 1600's in Norway. The conclusion is that any time you create a black market by banning something in demand then a parallel state (competing with the "legitimate" state) will always pop up to protect property, trade and tax because not only is the "legitimate" state enforcing the ban, but they are simultaneously abstaining from their typical "duties" in that regard, leaving a gap to be filled.

I find it interesting that the same thing can be achieved online but without the violence that is necessary in person. It's definitely a different space.

1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjwnDF2dRgI&list=PLBEIBBdgAO...


@JoelMcCracken 13 days

These kinds of alternative justice systems always seem fascinating to me. I feel like a sociological study on "alternative forms of justice" could be very fruitful.


@cs702 13 days

"Meet the new boss: same as the old boss." - The Who


Actually, I suspect the new "bosses" of the dark web's newfangled justice system are in fact much worse than the old "bosses" of the traditional, old-fashioned, time-tested justice system -- i.e., judges and lawyers.


@papito 13 days

This just shows that people naturally gravitate toward a system of social harmony and the rule of law, as it lets you reasonably adjust your behavior, as the expectations are formalized, and everyone else is assumed to be abiding by them.

The irony is that real world is increasingly moving away from that, toward the "everyone for themselves, nothing matters" chaos.


@heavyarms 13 days

There's a good book by Kevin Poulsen called "The Kingpin: How one Hacker Took Over the Billion-Dollar Cybercrime Underground" that is a bit out of date at this point (2011), but it goes into great length on all of the dynamics of the early forums where all of carding/spam/botnet operators did business.

In a forum/marketplace like this, your reputation is worth a lot of money. And if you scam someone and get banned, sure, you can just join again under a new identity, but building your reputation up again means you will lose out on a lot of potential sales.


@devwastaken 13 days

No ability to enforce makes it moot. At most you get banned from the forum.


@cosmodisk 13 days

Not surprising at all. Most criminal organisations, especially larger ones have these mechanisms in place both for internal and external situations. For instance if there are two gangs with overlapping territories,disputes start and can get escalated very quickly into situations where each side is focusing on fighting instead of bringing on money. Sometimes the gang leaders would try to resolve it but often external help is required. Usually it's a well respected person by both sides who is impartial and has the necessary negotiation or political skills to make both sides happy. This is almost universal across the criminal world.


@serverlessmom 13 days

This makes a lot of sense. In the case of the Dark Web I had always wondered how people felt secure in their purchases, especially considering the wide degree of fentanyl contamination in the recreational drug movement right now.


@b8 13 days

Doxing a scammer seems sorta fair.


@motohagiography 13 days

One wonders if being a judge on one of these cases would be illegal as well.


@valyagolev 12 days

We were doing this around simple small freelance jobs as well - there were, and still are, websites that will simply list fraudsters, people who wouldn’t pay, or take an advance payment and run away. This, and escrow, are quite typical para-legal means. In many cases you don’t want to go into real contractual stuff because the laws and forms seem to be too complicated, the sums too small, the taxes too annoying to pay, the government to cold and indifferent, and your age is too fourteen.

To be honest, this article is excited about something quite mundane… Have you ever presented an argument against your brother’s actions before your mom? Happens anywhere, in any sizable group of people.

Clicking on the link I kinda hoped it’d be a real shadow court: you send them an email describing how a corporation did you wrong, they ddos it into oblivion. I wish!

World could really do with some decent, non-governmental legal systems to discuss things that are impossible to take to a real court. No matter even if obviously enforceable or not. Just to bring some order into what is done currently by a twitter mob


@havocsupreme 13 days

Why is the title justice league? I believe the previous title was more helpful


@empressplay 13 days

And the movie / TV series based on it is already in development, I imagine


@dS0rrow 13 days

clearnet link to the complaint section of said forum: https://xss.is/threads/34768/


@csdvrx 13 days

IRL this is called binding arbitration, and it's often opt-out for your ISP and cellphone provider.

Most companies prefer this, as it's faster and more efficient than the judicial system.


@null0pointer 13 days

Is this anarchism? That being naturally emergent formal processes for things which would normally be handled by the government/legal system.


@dmitriid 13 days

Every system ends up needing:

- trust

- rules

- enforcement

I'm not even surprised such a system exists, because full anarchy where no one trusts anyone is not good even in theory.


@smokey_circles 13 days

> Over the past few weeks the FBI, Department of Justice (DOJ), Interpol, and other international law enforcement agencies have worked together to incarcerate and indict ransomware threat actors. Through this effort, millions of dollars in ransom payments have been recovered.

yet still, cryptocurrency gets blamed for all the ransomware. nevermind that clearly the law is able to find some course to take, or the unsolved cases unrelated unrelated crypto or any of the myriad of studies about why crime exists. no, the mere existence of monero is why we have international criminal syndicates. never happened with drug cartels or insider trading rings. heck even warlords are bitcoins fault.

odd rant, I know, but the argument that "all that crypto does is encourage criminals" is willfully ignorant. tale as old as time.

"what did they do before crypto then smartie pants"


and before that: gold. probably shiny rocks before that.

we could try defeat these actors but honestly I am unable to believe it's just human nature. we suck sometimes


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