Hi Reddit

I own the website All Thing Vice and wrote the book Silk Road: the shocking true story of the world’s most notorious online drugs market

A number of people asked for an AMA after I posted the following answer to a question to the Ask Reddit thread Deep Web Users of Reddit, what are your worst or scariest experiences you've had while browsing?:

Does it count if it wasn't exactly browsing, but very much dark web related?

I write about the dark web - that's my job. So I've spent part of pretty much every day of the past 4 or 5 years digging around in there. I've sat through fake red rooms, had fake hitmen try to bribe and then frighten me into taking down my stories about them and had accounts on every major online black market that ever existed.

I do a little crawl every few days to see what new sites have popped up and visit most of them.

The most frightening experience I've ever had is coming face to face with Lux, the owner of Pedoempire and Hurt2theCore, the most evil and reviled person on the entire dark web. He was responsible for procuring and hosting Daisy's Destruction, the most repulsive video ever made, created by Peter Scully, whose crimes were so bad, the Philippines are considering reinstating the death penalty especially for him.

It wasn't frightening because Lux was frightening - he was anything but. It was frightening because he looked so inoffensive and normal.

It was frightening because he was living proof that monsters walk among us and we never know.

I’m in early stages of another book that delves further into different aspects of the dark web – some horribly disturbing, others darkly amusing.

My proof: https://twitter.com/EileenOrmsby/status/803014743325687808

So if you're still interested, AMA Reddit, and I will answer as best I can

EDIT Well, this has been achingly slow - I got a lot more questions in the Ask Reddit thread! But I tend to have Reddit open in a tab most of the time, so I'll just keep answering questions until people stop asking them :) Thanks all for the questions so far! x Eiley

Comments: 142 • Responses: 58  • Date: 

Camsy3419 karma

Have you had any positive encounters on the dark web, or found anything that was humorous and not harmful?

OzFreelancer29 karma

Absolutely! Most of my encounters are positive. There are forums on the dark web dedicated to freedom of speech, drug law reform, etc and they are mostly very respectful and surprisingly troll-free.

I am a strong advocate for drug law reform - I believe prohibition/War on Drugs is killing people - so I was very interested in Silk Road when it first came about. It offered a safer alternative to people who were going to buy drugs anyway, by providing harm reduction advice and sellers who had public feedback, in much the same way as eBay or Amazon does. Silk Road had a philosophy of not selling anything "the purpose of which is to harm or defraud another person".

I really enjoyed all of my interactions with people in and behind Silk Road and I was sorry to see it shut down.

wheeldog13 karma

How does one get to the dark web anyways?

OzFreelancer19 karma

Download the Tor browser bundle from torproject.org. Launch the browser. Google or check Reddit subs such as /r/onions, /r/darknetmarkets, or /r/deepweb for URLs to directories or sites of interest and go.

AquaKitten3 karma

ignore this comment(mine), it's basically a bookmark for me

OzFreelancer22 karma

But I feel compelled to respond to everybody because this AMA is a bit slow.

So no, sorry, I cannot grant your request.

AquaKitten6 karma

Looks quite large to me. Well since you replied, ever met a Meth user?

OzFreelancer4 karma

Yes, loads. Some are full meth-heads with the missing teeth etc, but most are fully functioning human beings.

mikeydotcomdotau12 karma

Hi, you said that some 20000 words were redacted from your book due to legal reasons. Can you tell us what kind of legal reasons?

OzFreelancer17 karma

Maybe over a beer some time ;)

DAN99119910 karma

In your opinion and based on what you have seen, are people inherently good or evil at their core?

OzFreelancer24 karma

That is probably well beyond the bounds of my expertise to make a judgment call on, but overall I personally believe most people are good. I just think that the evil get a disproportionate amount of our attention.

absentwalrus6 karma

That's one hell of a question! I just wish to add my two cents as per my study (crime, english literature). Evil doesn't exist. It's a word we use when someone's actions are so vile that we assume its not possible to get there through environmental factors. The more horrible truth is that it is possible to act such a way if your environment is truly awful (primarily in childhood). My experience is that a vast number of high vulgarity criminals were abused physically and/or sexually when they were younger. I am not offering excuses here and you can be more prone to crime through increased testoterone and things such as the 'warrior gene' but these arn't evidence of evil as they can and do exist in people who lead good, honest lives. The sad truth is we are all born human, and if a mixture of bad luck, chance and human environment conspires against you, a human is liable to act in a manner we might (wrongly) refer to as evil.

OzFreelancer5 karma

I know what you are saying and I agree on an intellectual level. However, having seen and heard the deeds of Lux and Peter Scully, there is no other way to describe them, than "evil".

KingAturo8 karma

What would you consider to be some of the biggest, common misconceptions of the Dark Web?

OzFreelancer59 karma

By far the biggest is that it 10x larger than the Internet. I mean, this should be common sense anyway, but it gets propagated by tabloid media all the time. It stems a lot from people using the terms "deep web" and "dark web" interchangably when they are different things.

The statement that 90% of the internet is hidden is true, and it is called the deep web (not the dark web). The 90% that is hidden is all those pages you won’t get to using google or any other search engines. There’s nothing scary about that – in fact it works in your favour.

The easiest example is your bank. The bank’s major page is available to anyone who searches the web (part of the 10%, also known as the “clearweb”). But once you log in, all those pages you can access that contain your personal details? Not searchable on google. Each one of those pages is part of the 90% of the deep web. Business and government intranets also make up part of the deep web. Honestly, it’s nothing to worry about.

The dark web – the hidden services available through Tor and other anonymising programs – makes up a tiny fraction of the deep web. A really, really tiny fraction. It is infinitely smaller than the clearweb.

Zinfandel8 karma

Rather naive question: but why is there a need for a 'dark web'? Most would think it's a resource to obtain something illegal.

OzFreelancer16 karma

The technical term for the dark web is "hidden services". Hidden services are a way of creating a meeting place where the visitor can’t discover where the host is and the host can’t discover where the visitor is coming from. So the can be used in situations like providing meeting places for whistleblowers and human rights workers to communicate with journalists.

And, of course, that makes them perfect for illegal commerce.

titaniumtop8 karma

I've always been curious about not engaging, but browsing the dark web. Despite what I hear, I worry about legal ramifications of just looking around. Am I safe to browse? Are there any consequences?

OzFreelancer8 karma

In most countries it is not illegal to simply browse the dark web. The exception is child abuse sites - it may be illegal to view images or videos.

heliotrope3n7 karma

Always imagined the dark web as a creepy place with predators everywhere - is that what it's like?

OzFreelancer7 karma

Yes and no.

There are certainly creepy places in the dark web. The hurtcore sites are the worst, but there is also "regular" (wrong word but not sure how to describe it) child pornography, revenge porn sites and animal torture sites. These are all beyond horrible.

Then there are the sites that claim to offer hitmen or to provide access to "red rooms" (live streams of people getting killed, where you pay for the privilege of directing the action). These are scams and if you give them money, nobody will die but you will be out of pocket. I linked to some stories about them in the OP.

Much of the dark web is taken up with black market commerce. I don't have a problem with the drugs markets, because I do not believe in the War on Drugs, plus over the years I have found without fail that those sites encourage safe drug use (after all, a dead customer is not a repeat customer) and their forums and chats are full of friendly people whose ONLY crime is wanting to get high on something different than alcohol.

Haydens_Army6 karma

Hi! Cruising through the responses I saw that you hinted at being female. Have you seen or encountered any roadblocks or adverse treatment due to the fact that you are female in the darker corners of this crazy web?

OzFreelancer11 karma

Happy to state it explicitly - I am female :)

The default position on the dark web is a bit like the default position on Reddit - everybody assumes I'm (young, white) male. Even on the sites where I'm out in the open as to who I am, I have to remind people occasionally.

So no, I haven't noticed anything specifically. Of course, I cop trolling and abuse like anyone, and if they realise I'm female it may become sexualised or misogynistic, but I have not encountered as much gendered abuse as many female writers in tech.

patchett106 karma

What is the most odd, disgusting thing you have found for sale during your searches?

OzFreelancer13 karma

By far the most odd was somebody who provided a reasonably convincing story that he was selling genuine shrunken heads. The heads were for decoration; the seller claimed to be an artist and “creating them is something of a hobby to me”.

Its pretty horrible to see anthrax and other poisons for sale that don't have any recreational purpose.

darksidedearth6 karma

What is a dark web site that you frequently visit? Not for work, for "fun"

OzFreelancer5 karma

I really enjoy the forums - The Hub & The Majestic Garden are favourites, but also the forums of the darknet markets themselves.

jemode6 karma

Do you tape over your webcam and/or disable your mic? Do you think the average person should?

OzFreelancer4 karma

Haha, yes and yes!

frozenflameinthewind5 karma

With the fall of Freedom Hosting as well as Lux himself, is the dark starting to become more hostile to pedophiles or do they continue thrive there?

OzFreelancer7 karma

I would love it if hidden services could become more hostile just to these evil people whilst remaining viable for others, but that's not possible. Right now honestly I think it is still the safest haven for them. However, old fashioned detective work continues to be the strongest weapon in finding and bringing down these people. Hacktivists like Anonymous use social engineering tricks to unmask them too.

I'd like to see more resources diverted away from finding the drug users and into finding the child/animal abusers.

TTTT274 karma

Great AMA, fascinating research you have done and great website.

One question.

For someone with zero interest in illegal drugs and/or child porn, is there anything worth going to the darknet for?

OzFreelancer4 karma

You can certainly use Tor for private browsing, if you don't want any prying eyes of governments or corporations tracking you.

There are some vaguely interesting conspiracy sites, book repositories of the types of books that are banned in some countries, censorship-free zones. And besides drugs, markets for other illegal products - stolen information, hacking services, weapons, poisons etc.

The scam sites - hitmen and red rooms in particular - can keep you amused for half an hour or so.

v-tanabata4 karma

How did you first get into writing about the Dark Web, and the Dark Web in general?

OzFreelancer9 karma

It was after hearing about Silk Road from a friend in late 2011. I couldn't believe it existed. So I figured out Tor and Bitcoins and PGP and all the other stuff I needed to know and then went to see for myself.

I was blown away not only by the fact that people were buying drugs from an interface not unlike eBay, and having them delivered in the regular old mail, but that there was this vibrant, engaged community here. These were intelligent, nice people, who wanted to do their drugs of choice in a safe, non-violent environment.

I was also fascinated by the owner of Silk Road (who later took on the name Dread Pirate Roberts). He truly ran the place as some sort of libertarian utopia, complete with rousing epistles, education on libertarian philosophy, a book club, movie nights...

Who wouldn't be fascinated and want to write about it?

D5R4 karma

Having just learned that people actually order drugs online through some of the websites that are in the dark web, what's the risk at ordering something from one of those websites?

Isn't it dangerous to give home addresses to people that are selling drugs? Can't you get burglarized or suffer any other type of crime by giving your address to someone who is selling ilegal stuff?

OzFreelancer3 karma

The risk, overall, is lower than buying drugs face to face. That's not just me saying that, there have been significant academic studies into the darknet markets now, and the annual Global Drug Survey is backing up the empirical evidence with first-hand stories of the users.

The sellers (a) have more to lose by being caught than the buyers (b) are usually across the country or in another country altogether (c) make all their money from repeat business and good feedback.

Somebody who buys a few pills for the weekend is hardly worth burgling. And that's what most transactions on these sites are - small personal amounts for the person who is the end user.

MjrMjr4 karma

What site or sites took the place of Silk Road? What are the big markets now?

OzFreelancer12 karma

The ones that came immediately in the wake of Silk Road were Sheep (which exit scammed, and later the owner was arrested), Black Market Reloaded (which always ran as Silk Roads little brother, but became so popular after SR shut down, the owner got spooked and shut down, after letting everybody withdraw their Bitcoin. He got away clean) and Silk Road 2, which was opened by former staff of Silk Road and lasted a year before remaining staff were arrested (although the initial Dread Pirate Roberts 2nd got away).

The biggest ever were Evolution and Agora, both now gone.

Current market leaders are AlphaBay and Dream, though there are dozens of other smaller markets.

MjrMjr-2 karma

This was a test. You passed. (obviously)

Folks, this guy is legit.

OzFreelancer58 karma

This gal is legit...

TTTT274 karma

Hi, great AMA. I noticed in your writing you have mentioned that Australians are over-represented on the dark web, why do you think this is?

OzFreelancer4 karma

Too easy when it comes to the DNMs. They are overrepresented on the darknet markets because drugs in Australia are prohibitively expensive and of vastly varying quality. The DNMs give them a choice of buying cheaply from overseas (but risk interception by Customs) or buying Australian from a reseller, where they will pay Australian prices, but have consistent quality.

It is also lucrative for Australians to order from overseas and re-sell on the same market to fellow Australians for four times the price.

As to the number of Australians in key roles in the hurtcore sites, that I do not understand. Hopefully it is just coincidence that Peter Scully and Lux were Australian.

D5R3 karma

People actually order drugs overseas to be delivered at home, or did I just misunderstood that?

OzFreelancer6 karma

Yes, and it is becoming increasingly popular. Hundreds of millions of dollars (in Bitcoin) is going through the darknet markets.

If people are ordering drugs, particularly in powder form, for personal use, they can be flattened, sealed in MBB (moisture barrier baggies) and sent in a regular business envelope, indistinguishable from billions of other envelopes going through the postal system every day. The chances of a particular package being intercepted is very low.

D5R2 karma

Well, I really had no ideia. I always thought deals like these were always made hand-to-hand, but now I understand that would defeat the purpose of using websites like Silk Road.

Guess I learned something new today. Thanks for answering.

OzFreelancer2 karma

Thanks for asking :)

Poker1st4 karma

Do you use TOR regularly while going searching? Do you use your own scripts to keep you hidden (when necessary of course).

OzFreelancer7 karma

No, I'm one of the majority who have sacrificed aspects of my privacy for convenience.

gratefulhateful3 karma

As someone who has a basic understanding of Tor, can you elaborate more on what you mean by this?

OzFreelancer12 karma

I mean that in most cases I don't use Tor to do my regular browsing. I like the convenience of auto-fill and sites remembering I've been there. I hate having to re-enter details every time I visit a page. So by default, Google remembers my searches and feeds them to Facebook to advertise to me, Reddit keeps me logged in, etc etc etc.

i.e. I've sacrificed privacy for convenience.

I_am_spoons2 karma

How do you browse it without tor?

OzFreelancer4 karma

You can use tor2web.org, but you won't be anonymous and it doesn't go everywhere

I don't browse dark web without Tor, I thought the question was asking about my normal browsing

wheeldog3 karma

I also meant to ask you what you think about this article... do you think we should be afraid to use Tor or is that their main purpose, to make us too afraid to use Tor? https://www.reddit.com/r/Political_Revolution/comments/5f5vl0/tor_vpn_users_labeled_as_criminals_will_be_hacked/

OzFreelancer11 karma

I think the erosion of our rights to privacy is frightening and should be fought at every step.

wheeldog2 karma

But should I be afraid of using Tor? Does using Tor ...is it like a red flag that gives 'them' the excuse to look deeper, just because it's installed on my machine?

OzFreelancer3 karma

I don't know what country you are in but generally you should not be afraid of Tor.

Coronis123 karma

Do you think bitcoin has long term viability or is it more of a passing fad?

OzFreelancer7 karma

Well, it has been around too long at a strong value to call it a "fad" and the investment in blockchain technology continues to grow around the world.

I think one issue with Bitcoin is that most of it is now being mined in China. I'm not sure how that will affect things going forward.

I think people have seen the value in having a P2P cryptocurrency that provides for micro-transactions directly between two people on opposite sides of the world, so if not Bitcoin, definitely a cryptocurrency of some sort.

phil_dough3 karma

2 questions, fairly short and straight forward.

1.) when can we expect to see the next book, and is there a working title.

2.) do you know of anywhere where one could look into how the investigation of Lux and that whole ring was carried out? Was it discovering his identity, pinning his location, or building a case that takes the longest?

OzFreelancer12 karma

1) I've only just put a proposal in to my agent, so it will be a while. Its working title is Darkest Web

2) I hope to do a lot of that investigating myself. There are quite a few things from the hearings that are subject to suppression orders - some to protect victims and others so as not to compromise ongoing investigations. So at the moment I'm not allowed to print any of that, though hopefully the orders in the latter case will be lifted before my book comes out.

One small thing was when the police raided his house, they thought it was the father they were going for. He had no idea what was happening behind the bedroom door of his son.

Hoof_Hearted123 karma

God, I can't imagine how his father must feel. Must've absolutely crushed his soul.

OzFreelancer5 karma

It was seriously heartbreaking watching him in court. He seemed utterly shattered and bewildered.

He had been worried about his son locking himself in his room so often and had tried to get help for him. But he thought it was video game addiction or something...

[deleted]3 karma

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OzFreelancer9 karma

I'm not sure what to say about sites that "everyone" should go visit, as people are looking for different things. Good starting points are directories, such as Underweb Directory or Hidden Wiki. They lay out the most popular sites and you will generally have an idea of what you are clicking on.

Newbies need to beware that a lot of what's on the dark web, including what is linked by the directories, are scams. There are many people who would like to take your Bitcoin or other currency from you.

Most sites are not illegal to visit in most countries. So there is generally no issue looking around the darknet markets such as AlphaBay or Dream (where they sell drugs, stolen credit card information, etc).

Child porn/abuse sites often will be illegal to visit. Most of them are clearly signposted as to what they are on the dark web and require you to make an account to sign in and view images, so it would be difficult to claim you "accidentally" stumbled upon them.

[deleted]2 karma

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OzFreelancer8 karma

The go-to answer for this question is Cat Facts - the dark web's repository for facts about cats. :)

But rather than sites themselves, I find some of my interactions darkly amusing. So things like the hitman and red room stories linked above.

[deleted]0 karma

[deleted]

OzFreelancer2 karma

Download at torproject.org

orangeandblackattack3 karma

There are so many horror stories of people's information being compromised from the dark web - though to me many of them seem overdramatic. Have you ever felt unsafe or had anything suspicious happen to you on there? I.e. - getting doxed, stalked, harassed? If I remember correctly I noticed on your blog a few months back someone from that hit man site was pretending to be you, right? But is that the worst it's been?

OzFreelancer3 karma

Well, as "doxxing" is uncovering somebody's real identity when they don't want to be uncovered (e.g in the Ashley Madison hack, where the email addresses of cheating spouses were exposed), I haven't really worried about that as my strategy has been to be upfront and honest about who I am on the sites I frequent.

As to the rest of your question, I answered a similar one earlier in the thread, so I'll cut'n'paste that:

Besa Admin (hitman) has been the most persistent - he has bombarded me with emails, threatened me and tried to engage hacking services for assistance in finding my address (they just told me instead).

One of the rogue US law enforcement agents that was feeding Dread Pirate Roberts of Silk Road information in return for payment warned him that I was likely under surveillance. No law enforcement ever contacted me openly.

Some dick wrote an article claiming I was leading innocent people to the dark web and teaching them to sell buy and sell drugs

I think that's the most of it :)

orangeandblackattack3 karma

Thank you!! I'm a big fan, I can't wait for your new book!! :D

OzFreelancer3 karma

Aw, here, take my Upvote :)

TTTT273 karma

Hi, does sex work take place at all over the dark web? In the USA, a major advertising site for sex workers (Backpage) was forced to accept bitcoin only after Visa and Mastercard denied them merchant accounts. There are lots of anecdotes of sex workers accepting and spending bitcoin. Has any of this moved to the darkweb?

OzFreelancer2 karma

No, not really (though there are sex workers who take Bitcoin) . There is little point in running a business that relies on meeting in person over the dark web - it kind of defeats the purpose.

OblivionPhD3 karma

Are there legitimate assassins who can be contacted on DarkNet? If so, how big a hit will they generally agree to? Could a very wealthy individual, for instance, hire an assassin to take down another important person? (Out of curiosity! I'm a philosophy student, not a magnate)

OzFreelancer4 karma

There are zero nada none zilch "legitimate" hitmen on the dark web.

The closest thing to something that my possibly have been legitimate is the Assassination Market. The Assassination Market worked differently. It was a crowd-funded market for assassinations of prominent people. The names of the targets were public, and anybody with a bit of Bitcoin could donate to the pot (or “dead pool”). When the person added funds to the pool they would provide a prediction of the date and time of the person’s death. The prediction would be cryptographically associated to a bitcoin address, and whoever correctly “predicted” the death would “win” the pool.

The idea was, obviously, that once the pool was large enough, somebody would “predict” the date and time of death and carry out the assassination then, thus winning the pot.

Although the idea was not new, what the dark web and Bitcoin did was offer anonymity and also the opportunity to see that the money was actually there and the ability to confirm that it was actually transferred to the Bitcoin address of the person who correctly predicted the death.

There were certainly donations made towards the Dead Pool of a number of prominent people, including President Obama. The largest pot was dedicated to Ben Benanke, head of the Reserve Bank (and who many believed was responsible for the Global Financial Crisis) – it was around $60,000 USD.

The Assassination Market has been offline since some time in 2014. Nobody knows what happened to it. What we DO know is:

  • Nobody on the list has been killed, and
  • All of the bitcoin donated is still sitting in the donation wallets

That is, nobody has taken the Bitcoin and run.

Keniisu3 karma

Hey. As someone curious on the accessibility of certain Dark Web aspects I gave two questions. I've heard very often, pedophilic and other criminal content is rather prolific on the Dark Web. However, I've read its easily accessible with various gateways. Is this true? If so, why hasn't these various sites been taken down or looked into by the government?

OzFreelancer2 karma

Yes, that is kind of true. It is certainly easily accessible - in most cases it is merely a sign of signing up with a username and password and you're in, although some sites demand you supply a certain amount of original material before you can access the full archives.

Many of the sites have been taken down - if you look at the links in my OP, I mention being at the court case of Lux, owner of the Pedoempire. However, due to the nature of the dark web, they get taken down by old fashioned detective work - social engineering, infiltration etc.

mikeydotcomdotau3 karma

Do you think that there is any chance of freedom for Ross Ulbricht? It seems that there were so many failures of process in his investigation and incarceration.

OzFreelancer4 karma

I'm not American but the US justice system seems particularly draconian and Ross' sentence seemed more political than anything. I would love to see him freed, but it doesn't look good from the outside.

Tacana19173 karma

Just one question did you meet people who use the dark web when your not online

OzFreelancer4 karma

Yes, some of them. I met buyers and sellers of drugs while I was writing Silk Road. Met Silk Road staffer SSBD after he got out of prison. Was in court with Lux of Hurt2theCore

waishas2 karma

How is it possible for websites to be "hidden" from the regular internet?

OzFreelancer1 karma

Hidden services are sites you get to through web servers that run locally (darknets) and are not visible or accessible to the outside Internet, but can only be accessed from within the network of the software provider. So in order to access them, you need to download special software, the most common being Tor.

It means you won't come to these sites using Google or by typing the URL into your normal web browser.

SlamballReunionTour2 karma

Glad I randomly clicked on this, your site's articles are clean and vacillate between amusing curiosity (fake assassination sites) and the most horrendous shit possible (the hurtcore article).

I just read through the hilarious article on the fake hits page, only to be further amused by seeing its lone, mentally ill admin infest your comments by attempting to badly imitate you and no less than 5 other anon sockpuppets typing in identically poor broken English with inexplicable line breaks. That's always been one of my favorite things online, when an utter dullard perpetuating a scam gets their pants pulled down by the bare truth, and then they desperately scramble to disseminate counter-info in the most hamfisted, childish ways possible. They habitually extend their impotent campaign many months past the date it would've faded from anyone's memory, revealing their own mortal fear of being exposed as frauds. It's such wonderful schadenfreude.

After all that preface, a simple question to justify the post would be this: In your online investigations so far, have you ever had anyone come after you with harassment or legal pressure in some direct way?

OzFreelancer3 karma

In your online investigations so far, have you ever had anyone come after you with harassment or legal pressure in some direct way?

Thanks for the commentary :) In response to your question, the Besa Admin has been the most persistent - he has bombarded me with emails, threatened me and tried to engage hacking services for assistance in finding my address (they just told me instead).

One of the rogue US law enforcement agents that was feeding Dread Pirate Roberts of Silk Road information in return for payment warned him that I was likely under surveillance. No law enforcement ever contacted me openly.

Some dick wrote an article claiming I was leading innocent people to the dark web and teaching them to sell buy and sell drugs

I think that's the most of it :)

THEdirtyFEATHERS2 karma

q: as far as you know what % of nodes are currently watched? and is anyone coordinating Service Providers for loging a packets time information?

OzFreelancer3 karma

Honestly couldn't tell you, I'm sorry. As in, I don't know the answer.

IDB_Ace2 karma

What did you talk about with Lux ?

OzFreelancer5 karma

We didn't talk about anything. He was in the prisoner dock at the back of the court (basically just a seat behind a bench) and I was in a seat in front of him. About 4 days all up.

I did try and engage with his family members a couple of times, but they weren't keen to speak. They were, after all, going through the worst experience of their entire lives and I didn't want to be one of "those" journos who trample all over somebody's grief for the sake of a story.

NYGooner173 karma

I think you may answered this earlier, so has the court case not been publicized at all? This is the first time I ever heard about any of this so I'm relatively surprised

OzFreelancer2 karma

Lux (Matthew Graham), owner of Hurt2theCore got a bit of press in Australia - I linked to one of the pieces in the blog about it. There was no trial, so I guess it wasn't as newsworthy in that way. The 2-day sentencing hearing contained a lot of stuff that just couldn't go into a newspaper.

Peter Scully (who produced Daisy's Destruction for Hurt2theCore) has had more publicity, including a 60 Minutes interview, and I think has a Wikipedia page.

FanOfGoodMovies2 karma

Can law enforcement use bot programs to trawl the dark web or is associating a crime to a perpetrator to difficult online?

OzFreelancer4 karma

They can use all sorts of programs to trawl, but that doesn't help them find out who is behind the sites.

It is easy to find the sites. It's not easy to find out who is running them, or where in the world they are running from.

MicrowaveableJuggalo2 karma

You say most of your encounters on the dark web are positive. Do you think we all can still feel safe even though there are people hiding behind screens where human trafficking and abduction are present just right behind the screen? Is it better they are on the dark web rather than doing it all in front of the public eye?

OzFreelancer6 karma

Obviously any encounters with child abuse sites and hurtcore are not positive - they are the worst things imaginable. Naturally, I hope that law enforcement can track down the perpetrators (as they have been doing) and lock them away forever.

captmomo2 karma

What are your thoughts on the recent #twittergate fiasco?

OzFreelancer3 karma

Um, not sure which particular fiasco/scandal you are referring to

OzFreelancer2 karma

Ah, I did hear about it, but honestly haven't looked into it much.

BorgBuddies2 karma

Is the Dark Web doing anything better than the regular web? I mean is there something us peasants on the regular internet missing out on?

OzFreelancer2 karma

It allows people who are so inclined to browse and purchase illegal items without worrying too much about getting tracked and caught. Mostly drugs. So if you like drugs and you can't get decent quality ones, the dark web does that better.

mikeydotcomdotau2 karma

Have you ever been contacted or visited by LEA due to your research?

OzFreelancer6 karma

Not out in the open, no.

I was contacted several times by Cirrus, who was later determined to be HSI undercover officer who wangled a role in the admin of Silk Road. The timing of the contact makes it hazy as to whether it was actually the REAL Cirrus immediately before she was compromised, or the undercover agent. The timing seems to be too coincidental to be the real Cirrus, and all of those emails (along with some others) were subsequently mysteriously deleted from my account.

Teh_iiXiiCU710NiiR1 karma

Have you ever reported someone to the police and got them sent to jail?

OzFreelancer2 karma

No, I don't try to dox anybody, not my style.

ResentfulDead1 karma

Hi, I'm massive video game fan and I've heard that there are flash games on the dark web. Is this true and have you played any of them?

OzFreelancer1 karma

LOL yeah.... nah :)

funnyfaceking1 karma

What is the OP'S answer to the Ask Reddit thread about the dark web? The link is to the full thread.

OzFreelancer1 karma

The answer is literally quoted in the OP :)

But otherwise, it is the second answer in the AskRedit thread if sorted by "Top" or "Best"

Patapatamon-1 karma

help this is urgent does the deep web trustworthy enough to tell me if its bad to give alcohol to squids?

OzFreelancer10 karma

If you can find a dark web Squid Facts site that is as good as Cat Facts, I would take their advice as gospel

CashDoge-3 karma

How much do you actually know about the deep web, Silk Road & Bitcoin (what it originally was) and OPSEC?

OzFreelancer6 karma

Fair bit. Did you have a specific question?