In August 2014, the creators of OpenBazaar, an unregulated website for buying and selling, announced they were releasing a beta version of their software that could change online commerce forever.
OpenBazaar’s plans reminded many of past unsuccessful attempts to establish surveillance-free trade zones online – most notoriously Napster, which ran afoul of corporate copyright law, and Silk Road, shut down in 2011 when its founder was arrested.
The problem with these past services, according to OpenBazaar, was they had a centralized location, a main server where all trades and downloads actually occurred. In contrast, OpenBazaar – originally named Dark Market – will be downloaded onto individual computers, so trades will happen in hundreds of locations rather than through one central server.
Moreover, all trades will be done through the growing online currency Bitcoin, which OpenBazaar founders claim will result in these transactions being completely untraceable by any government.
The creators of this service say it is not meant to be used for illegal or immoral trade, but they admit that not even they will be able to regulate its traffic.
As of December 2014, OpenBazaar’s plans had been covered only by Wired magazine and no other corporate media outlets.
Andy Greenberg, “Creators of New Fed-Proof Bitcoin Marketplace Swear It’s Not for Drugs” Wired, August 28, 2014, http://www.wired.com/2014/08/openbazaar-not-for-drugs/
Andy Greenberg, “Inside the ‘DarkMarket’ Prototype, a Silk Road the FBI Can Never Seize” Wired, April 24, 2014, http://www.wired.com/2014/04/darkmarket/.
Student Researcher: Katie McCartney (Frostburg State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Andy Duncan (Frostburg State University)