Hidden on the Internet are dozens of darknet markets — e-commerce sites where people buy and sell drugs, guns and worse.
They are a murky-but-growing economy that’s hard to monitor, and difficult for all but the keenest observers to even discover.
DeepDotWeb.com chronicles these exchanges, highlighting markets as they rise and fall, reporting scams and interviewing the people who operate such sites. It even maintains a detailed list of active sites with user reviews almost like Yelp.
Though the site covers one of the Internet’s most illicit corners, DeepDot, as he’s requested to be called, describes himself as something of a family man.
He said he works in Internet marketing and has children — reasons he agreed to be interviewed on the condition of anonymity. (The Chronicle confirmed his identity by verifying a signed message with a digital signature published by the owner of the site).
DeepDot said he established the site about two years ago, soon after he heard about the shutdown of Silk Road, one of the first online black markets. The exchange abruptly closed in October 2013, when federal agents arrested its operator, Ross Ulbricht, at the Glen Park branch of the San Francisco public library. This year, he was sentenced to life in prison.
As some online forums dedicated to darknet markets dissolved in the wake of Ulbricht’s arrest, DeepDot worried that users of such markets would suffer due to a lack of information.
The subject had become too important to languish, he said.
“I believed I could fill some of these gaps and
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