The Dark Side of Code

The Dark Side of Code

bitcoinYou’ve all heard of Bitcoin by now. In the event you haven’t, it’s a form of open source, peer to peer payment that operates without any central authority or traditional banking institutions. It’s basically a digital form of money that has been used since 2009 and users can send and receive bitcoins as payment for goods and services through wallet software on computers, apps, and mobile devices.

But they’ve garnered attention most recently over concerns that this type of cryptocurrency can be used for illegal activities. One such place this was most prevalent was on the Silk Road online black market, a veritable haven for purchasing drugs, weapons, and other contraband that was being offered and sold freely by people who wanted to remain anonymous and bitcoins offered some amount of privacy to conduct these transactions. The FBI seized control of the anonymous site in October 2013 and shut it down, confiscating something in the amount of 144,000 bitcoins worth around $28 million.

But money launderers, black marketeers, and drug users may now have a new place to ply their wares and get their fix on in total anonymity, all without any fear of being caught. A group of politically radical programmers has finished the software for something called Dark Wallet. It’s another anonymous bitcoin application that increases the secrecy with which people can buy and sell even more so than was possible with the Silk Road site.

It’s been designed to make the flow of bitcoins virtually impossible to track. Initially launched on IndieGogo where it easily met a funding goal of $50,000, the program uses encryption and CoinJoin technology to mask users’ identities when conducting highly illegal deals underground. The creators of the program, a pair of guys who are part of a collective named unSystem, have come out and said their brainchild has been created for use in illicit doings. The difference this time is that while Silk Road was pretty much an online warehouse for buying narcotics like cocaine, Ecstasy and heroin; Dark Wallet could be used for even more nefarious means such as murder for hire, sex trafficking, you name it. One of the creators has implicitly stated their software could be used for money laundering.

Frankly, this kind of thing disgusts me. As a programmer myself, I find these people taking their God-given talents and wasting it and want to know why? This isn’t a positive piece of work, it’s done to enable others to ruin their lives and the lives of others. The coders claim their program is protected by the First Amendment, as in they think this is some form of free expression. They admit bad things might happen in their new marketplace of evil, with one of these turds claiming “Liberty is a dangerous thing”.

What the heck is that supposed to mean? Liberty is what gave these guys the ability to learn their craft and hone it enough to get good enough to build something like this. Why use it to do something so negative, so potentially harmful? Terrorists might find something like this very useful for another attack on our country. Lord knows what you can find on this marketplace. Weapons, bombs, nuclear material, viruses. The list goes on. Unfortunately, it’s only the money laundering part that’s gotten the attention of authorities at the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network who are monitoring and tracking the progress of the “emerging technological efforts designed to subvert financial transparency”.

These are dangerous times and technology is enabling us to act on our worst impulses. Coding and programming are no different. We have the power to create things like this and those who decide to pursue such activities make me shake my damn head. Use your know-how to make a positive difference in the world, not destroy it. Morons.

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