This is very much just my opinion, and I'll be honest that my kids are of an age where this is on the horizon rather than a concern right this second. But actually, I'm no more concerned about Silk Road as a source of drugs than I am any other source of drugs.
That's not to say I'm not concerned about drugs and their effects, but it's more that I know anyone who wants to can get hold of drugs pretty much anywhere they want to, in real life. And in terms of abilities, it's a lot easier - and doesn't require technical knowledge - to ask around and find the local supplier.
I think this is the case everywhere. I grew up in a mix of little villages, little towns and then a city. Had I wanted to, I could have got hold of any manner of drugs (and this was the countryside and included pretty horrific horse drugs too). I didn't have the internet. Had I wanted to, I could have asked [name not mentioned]'s older brother. I could have asked my friend [no name]'s friend [another no name]. I could have gone to the nearest city and waited at a certain spot by the bus station. I didn't. But I could have. And I could have paid with a filthy 10 pound note, or saved up some of my lunch money. I didn't have to faff around with bitcoins.
Why I didn't, and why I hope my kids won't, is because of the way that I was raised and the open conversations I'd had. And those of my friends that did experiment, grew out of it pretty quickly. Their parents were pretty common sense about it, and they were generally happy teens.
Like I said, purely my opinion, but the real battle against drug abuse comes from a point far before purchase, it comes with discussion, realism, teaching our kids to go against the grain and keep themselves safe, and be open to helping them if they stuff up, so they know they can come to us when they stuff up again. I hope that's enough!
Silk Road adds an extra distribution channel, and I can see why it's raking in the cash, but there are other things that scare me more right now!
An anonymous online ‘black market’ where you can buy drugs (and other contraband goods) with untraceable currency – maybe we should be concerned. Even if the police are cracking down.
It works pretty simply. Through Tor – a browser designed to let you surf the web anonymously – you get access to the Silk Row website, which is laid out like any other online shop. Only with slightly different products and user reviews. Then you pay for your goods using Bitcoins, which can’t really be traced. You get your goods sent through the post. The perfect crime! Which is more than a little alarming. Especially when there aren’t really any age restrictions – buyers just need access to a debit card.
Nearly $2 million in illegal goods are sold through the site every month. Some have praised it, saying the quality and price is better than on the street, and (presumably) there’s no gang warfare. The first arrest connected to the site was made recently, in Australia. But is there really nothing that can be done about the site?
‘At this point there’s no penalty for politicians saying “yeah, let’s ban Bitcoin, you can buy drugs online, so let’s ban it”,’ says Mihai Alisie of Bitcoin Magazine. ‘But if politicians would ban Bitcoin for that, it is like burning an entire village to roast a pig. It’s like shutting down the internet because someone’s posting pornography.’
Can’t ban Bitcoin, can’t chase anonymous users, can’t take down a site where everything’s untraceable…the war on drugs online may be just as much a failure as in real life.
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