The decentralised ‘successor to Silk Road’, DarkMarket, has been copied and given a new, more palatable name, OpenBazaar.
A proof of concept developed at the recent Toronto Bitcoin Expo hackathon, DarkMarket uses the bitcoin protocol to create a marketplace that is impossible for any government to shut down.
Now the open-source code for DarkMarket has been forked – a coding term that means ‘to create a separate branch’ – by developer Brian Hoffman, who says he wants to build an alternative market “without the ‘Dark’ stigma”.
“I felt the [DarkMarket] project had merit, but we need to sidestep the stupid name issue if we were going to make progress,” Hoffman told CoinDesk via email.
He says his aim isn’t to build a platform for people to buy drugs or other illegal goods:
“The goal is not to make it simple to find drugs or guns. Period. I am not spending my time contributing to something to help others buy drugs, I’m trying to help sellers save money on transaction and payment processing costs, and open up new customer bases. There’s a lot more here than drug or gun sales.”
However, like the DarkMarket team, he notes:
“We won’t control, or be able to control, who sells what on the network.”
The idea behind DarkMarket is to create a decentralised trading platform run by each of its participants, instead of one run by a central authority, which can control trades (and be held accountable for them).
“Orders placed on [OpenBazaar] would be encrypted and transmitted to peers directly. If the Feds came knocking on our door to provide something, there’s nothing to provide,” says Hoffman.
Hoffman, who works as a consultant to the US Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs on health programmes, specifically on an encrypted, secure, health-messaging system called the Direct Project, says he doesn’t have an official launch date for OpenBazaar yet, saying:
“There are some obvious holes [in the DarkMarket code] and it’s nowhere near production-ready right now.”
Words of power
Following the creation of DarkMarket, some in the bitcoin community called on the DarkMarket team, which includes anarchist bitcoin developer Amir Taaki, to change the name:
“By calling this important invention the DarkMarket I’m afraid Amir et al are playing into the system’s hands,” wrote one redditor who created a petition to alter the branding.
Taaki rejected the calls, writing:
“People need to stop being afraid and reclaim these words of power used to control us […] Our team is not here to fit in nicely with the status quo – we are here to challenge it.”
He also added: “If you’re bothered enough, then create the change you want to see.”
With the advent of OpenBazaar, it seems his words were heeded.