Controversial Dark Web Bitcoin Bot Released from Custody

An automated shopping bot designed to make purchases on dark web marketplaces using bitcoin has been released after being confiscated.

AccessTimeIconApr 17, 2015 at 7:22 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 11:38 a.m. UTC
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An automated shopping bot designed to make purchases on dark web marketplaces using bitcoin has been released after it was confiscated months ago.

The Random Darknet Shopper made headlines last fall after it purchased, among other items, a supply of ecstasy pills from the dark web marketplace Agora. The bot, as well as the items it purchased, was displayed during an exhibition at the Kunst Halle St Gallen art gallery in St. Gallen, Switzerland.

According to a 15th January blog post, the bot was confiscated by the St Gallen public prosecutor’s office, which reportedly cited safety concerns. At the time, !Mediengruppe Bitnik, the team behind the bot, called the confiscation “an unjustified intervention into freedom of art.”

The group announced earlier this week in a new blog post that the bot had been released from custody.

!Mediengruppe Bitnik said that it no longer faced the threat of prosecution in connection with the shopping bot, writing:

“At the same time we also received the order for withdrawal of prosecution. In the order for withdrawal of prosecution the public prosecutor states that the possession of ecstasy was indeed a reasonable means for the purpose of sparking public debate about questions related to the exhibition.”

Apart from the ecstasy, which the group said was destroyed by law enforcement officials, all other purchased items were returned along with the bot.

Image via !Mediengruppe Bitnik

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