Is the Opioid Epidemic a Tech Problem?
The Dark Web conjures images of gothic fonts and black backgrounds, like a metal fan’s MySpace page circa 2001. But this section of the internet looks surprisingly normal. Accessible only through the TOR browser, there are Google-style search engines and Amazon-style marketplaces. Except what they’re selling are mostly illegal things—stolen passports, hacked account numbers, and drugs. A lot of drugs.
This week, we stress out WNYC’S IT department and venture onto the Dark Web. Where you can get heroin, fentanyl, or oxycontin shipped right to your door via USPS. And we talk to Nick Bilton, author of American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road, about how Libertarian philosophy and tech-bro hubris combined to spark an online drug revolution—and an opioid crisis.
And the Dark Web community is starting to recognize the role they're playing. Since we recorded this episode, Hansa Market - the very site we visit in the show - has banned the sale of fentanyl, according to the New York Times.