Many law enforcement operations have targeted cryptomarkets over the past years. These operations have led to the shutdown of many cryptomarkets and the arrest of market administrators, vendors and customers. While these efforts may have disrupted online drug markets to some extent, they may also have increased the harm associated with drug use and drug selling.
Indeed, past research has found that cryptomarkets, with their very active forums and reputation systems, can provide much needed information on the quality of drugs being sold online and the dangers that arise from drug use. This enables drug users to make more informed decisions about what drugs to use, how much drugs to use and from whom to purchase drugs. The harm reduction aspects of cryptomarkets could also extend to the episodes of violence associated with selling drugs. While these events are rare, they have been known to happen routinely over the course of drug selling activities. The darknet and the anonymity that it affords could in this case go a long way to protect the identity of actors involved in selling drugs and withdraw them from drug related conflict.
The aim of this survey is to assess the impact of the darknet on episodes of drug-related conflict involving cryptomarket drug vendors. More precisely, it will seek to examine the role of drug-related conflict in online drug sales made on the darknet, as compared to offline drug sales made in face-to-face exchanges. The answers we will collect in this survey will help us assess the relationship between cryptomarkets and harm reduction and assist in proposing new policies that take the potential benefits of cryptomarkets into account.
This survey is run by Prof. David Décary-Hétu from the School of Criminology at the Université de Montréal (Canada) and members of his team, Marie Ouellet, Ph.D. and Claudia Flamand. Prof. Décary-Hétu has published multiple articles on the structure and the mechanics of cryptomarkets and has spoken at conferences like Hackers on Planet Earth (H.O.P.E.) in New York and Hackfest. This research has been funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Fonds de recherche du Québec - Société et culture (FRQSC).
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