This project will investigate the economic geographies of illegal economic activities in anonymous internet marketplaces.
This project will investigate illegal economic activities in anonymous internet marketplaces. Very little is currently known about the flows of drugs, weapons, and other illicit items, in marketplaces that operated on the so-called ‘darknet.’
Between 2011 and 2013, the Silk Road marketplace was able to attract transactions worth hundreds of millions of dollars worth of (bitcoin-based) transactions.
However, relatively little is known about the geography of this global trade. Although the strong anonymity on darknet markets prohibits any data collection about the geography of consumption, there is a large amount of data available about the sale of such goods and services.
This project thus seeks to employ techniques from computational social science and digital geography in order to achieve two primary objectives. First, we seek to scrape all relevant geographic information out of the dataset: building some re-usable data at the country level (e.g. ‘the number of heroin sellers based in every country’, ‘the total number of vendors selling weapons in every country’ etc.). Second, we seek to map, visualize, and analyse those data: using multiple variables (the various categories of products and services) to ask ‘what is the geography of illicit products and services?’