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Dead drops can’t compete with USPS. They require a court order to open your package and even then can’t charge anyone with possession. All they do is send you a “love letter” and people have reported receiving future packages just fine.

Millions of people use dark net marketplaces. The war on drugs has fueled their growth and more serious crimes like identity theft have benefited from it.




> All they do is send you a “love letter” and people have reported receiving future packages just fine.

well, that's what the end user sees, but we can't pretend to know what happens behind the scenes from a data perspective, and how that data might be used in the future.

> They require a court order to open your package and even then can’t charge anyone with possession.

this is not true. only first-class mail (13oz and under) is subject to any fourth amendment protections at all,[1] and your mail can be opened without warrant if it comes from overseas.[2] USPS can also x-ray and use other imaging techniques on whatever they want, they even describe it as a best practice.[3]

this isn't to say dead drops are a better idea; there are plenty of reasons not to go that route as well.

1. https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/contactUs/faq.aspx

2. https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/114

3. https://about.usps.com/securing-the-mail/best-practices.htm


> 4. Can Postal Inspectors open mail if they feel it may contain something illegal? First-Class letters and parcels are protected against search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, and, as such, cannot be opened without a search warrant. If there is probable cause to believe the contents of a First-Class letter or parcel violate federal law, Postal Inspectors can obtain a search warrant to open the mailpiece. Other classes of mail do not contain private correspondence, and therefore may be opened without a warrant.

Whoa, that's news to me. I didn't realize that any class of mail besides First class is considered to not contain private correspondence.


Postal Inspectors have some strange powers (read up about Comstock laws) - also in the UK BT Security (aka SD or IB) inherited quasi legal powers from its days as part of the post office - you did not want to be investigated by them.


Well I’m only ordering one ounce


13oz is well over what casual users order for most drugs. I'd bet the vast majority of orders are under that size.


Also, stamped mail (untracked, stamps can be bought with cash) can be dropped off anonymously at USPS blue postal boxes if it is 13 oz or under.

Orders over 13 oz could simply be split into multiple sub-13 oz shipments, although then that means a possible increased risk of detecting a package.


It depends heavily on the stealth used; a distributor could easily put a small quantity of drugs in a cheap object that weighs several pounds.


The war on drug has to be one of the top contributors and financiers of crime and criminal gangs.

Imagine a world where criminal gangs don't have access to the money they make through drugs and a government that doesn't have to spend huge amount of money on drug laws enforcement because drug trafficking would be much less lucrative in the existence of legal access and you get fewer and very cash-strapped drug gangs, and government making money from taxing drugs.

Surely such massive savings and earnings can be spent to help problem users and reduce violence, no?


The war on drugs is also a big contributor to the LEGAL gangs such as police,distric attornies, defence attorneys, prison officials and worst of all judges. Definitely an industrial economic complex similar to the Military Industrial Complex.


And protects the market of big pharma as well as the tobacco and alcohol industry. There is a reason these are among the top contributes for campaigns against the legalization of illegal drugs.


Don't forget for-profit prisons.


The prison industrial complex is a thing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prison%E2%80%93industrial_comp...


>The war on drugs is also a big contributor to the LEGAL gangs such as police,distric attornies, defence attorneys, prison officials and worst of all judges.

I agree with your sentiment but I find it odd that you think judges are the worst. Of all the people in the system judges are probably the least worst because they don't have as many incentives to do things that are bad for society but good for them personally the way all the other actors do (i.e. they do not directly benefit from the war on drugs).


Based on your measure of what makes them "most or least worst" you may be correct, but I disagree with the premise that whether or not their motives are virtuous makes a difference. The fact is judges rule over the system and that in itself make them the worst of the bunch, and actually the fact that they have less incentives yet continue to enable such a broken system to hurt people might be the best reason they are the worst.


They don't have the incentive to ruin people's lives to game their performance metrics (like prosecutors do). They don't have incentive to make much to do over nothing to justify their budget (like cops do). They don't have incentive to keep people in the system as long as possible to milk money from them and the state (like the prison system does). They don't have incentive to perpetuate the war on drugs to sell crap we don't need like tasers (police abuse them) and post-release monitoring (an overpriced joke that plays fast and loose with people's lives).

The bad incentive for judges seems to be that most of them have a desire to not rock the boat too much which is pretty benign compared to all the other actors who go out of their way to perpetuate and further the status quo because they materially benefit from it.

I find it hard to fault the judges for apathetically presiding over a flawed system when every other group you mentioned is doubling down to further that system.


I would concede that your arguments are all valid, unfortunately if we look at where most judges were employed before becoming judges the majority were the best-worst of the people in "every other group I mentioned". I think we will have to agree to disagree on this one, but I do appreciate your well thought out argument.


Judges (like any actor) can be corrupted and benefit by the for-profit system.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kids_for_cash_scandal


It can't help with getting voters though. At least until new voters come around and old voters get phased out.


There are plenty of illegal activities which can be used by gangs to generate revenue. If certain drugs are decriminalized, they still have theft, fencing, prostitution, sex trafficking, intimidation, computer crimes, etc.


All these avenues already exist and are in play. To take away the drug black market is to reduce the total cash potential for organized crime.


That is hardly the case, while criminal cartels tend to commit various crimes, nothing comes close to profitability of drugs as demonstrated by the high profile drug turf wars and involvement of various agencies.


Which are no where near as profitable and a lot easier to prosecute. You cant run a cartel on theft and computer crime.


Criminal networks do benefit from a bread-and-butter businesses like drug distribution. These innovations likely wouldn't be taking place at all if altering one's own consciousness with substances hadn't been criminalized - when the law is made to be at odds with society, society adapts to being at odds with the law.

But unlike say murder, "identity theft" isn't some serious crime - it's in the same basket as "war on drugs" in that they both attempt to fortify a nonsensical top-down design at odds with the underlying reality. It's arbitrage against a broken authorization paradigm, and will continue as long as banks (et al) choose to just bear the cost rather than actually fix their systems.


How could identity theft need fixed?


"Identity Theft" is a marketing spin on "broken identification". An identity is unique by definition and can't be stolen. But if you use an inadequate identification technique, like my birthday that's on my facebook and everywhere else in combination with my social security number that I have to give out to just about everybody, anyone can aquire those two pieces of information and impersonate me.

The ways to fix it are numerous, but most of them would involve a widely used national identity card that's actually designed for identification (as opposed to social security numbers which were never meant to be used like this). Alternatively have the banks pay fines for each instance of "identity theft" they suffer, and watch how they figure out better ways to identify people (probably verifying them in person).


This is something that has always frustrated me when reading about identity theft in the US. It's a problem that can only be fixed through legislation, yet I haven't heard of any even remotely successful attempts at establishing an official form of identification. Smart cards would be ideal, but even a simple national ID card with a picture would prevent the vast majority of identity theft.

I've done some research around social engineering and the no. 1 thing that stopped us from getting into bank accounts etc. was that to do anything remotely dangerous, you had to present your ID card. Even if you got your hands on someone's IBAN, name, address, bday and national ID number - no card, no deal.

It's not impossible to get fake IDs, but it's a significant investment to do so, which stops the kind of drive-by identity theft I read about from the states.


Strengthening the technicals of verifying identity won't solve it. In fact, doing so will serve as justification to double down on the crutch rather than fixing the root problem of incorrect security assertions, causing the individual victims even more problems.

The real legislation that is needed is to statutorily shore up the banks' liability for the damage their negligence causes. A person that has to deal with fall out from a bank being defrauded (eg repudiating that bank's and surveillance bureaus' libel) should receive a decent hourly wage in liquidated damages.


That's a fair point - more accountability is definitely needed.

But while I agree that tech alone wouldn't fix much, using a single number (with no biometrics whatsoever) for identification is just asking for trouble. Even my bus pass has my picture on it!


Using a simple number for an identity makes sense. Using knowledge of that number to verify identity does not.

The real problem in the US is that for any newly proposed identity system, any protections that keep the private sector from hooking into it for their own commercial surveillance will get scrapped due to lobbying. At the present, even social security and license plates are just basic government mandates, but form a foundation for unrestrained commercial actors to implement totalitarian surveillance.

So given that, the sensible freedom-preserving USian position is to be against any new identity systems until some laws have actually been passed to prohibit abuses of the current ones.


> my birthday that's on my facebook and everywhere else in combination with my social security number that I have to give out to just about everybody

And that's generally the best case. Name, state, and birthday are considered unique in a terrifying number of settings, including traffic stops, DMV records, and voter registrations. It's baffling to me that a police officer can 'run a license' and act on the results without making use of the unique ID already provided on the license, but it apparently happens.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/apr/03/identity-the...


One "extreme" way would be for debts to require better documentation in order to be collectible. E.g. the credit card company would have to have an authenticated video of the debtor stating "I am Jane Doe and as of this date, January 14 2019, I owe "Capital One" five hundred dollars." Stealing social security numbers wouldn't be enough to accomplish "identity theft", if that were the requirement.


(Re)design systems so that they rightfully treat eg SSN as a mere database key rather than negligently imagining it some kind of shared secret. How this gets applied and the implications differ for each trust relationship.

For example, if you have a bank account at a brick-and-mortar bank (and haven't setup online access), anybody can obtain online access to that account by going to the bank's website and entering your name, social security number, and maybe the recent account balance. This is in fact the exact process a bank rep does when you open a new account if they setup that access for you, or sometimes they even tell you to go home and do this yourself! Similarly, if you forget your online banking password, you can reset it entirely online with access to your email account, making your email account more trusted than the bank account!

In actuality, your being in the bank in person is the primary trust relationship, and that needs to be leveraged for the above scenarios. So online access should only ever be setup in a branch, and perhaps password resets should even require going down there as well.

(Obviously this is just an example and does not also apply to online-only banks. As I said, the key is to stop treating quasi-public information as a shared secret)


And the only time they even find drugs is when a package busts open and they can see it. Otherwise they have neither the time nor budget to have even a single digit fraction of packages be dog sniffed or xrayed. And how often will they be legal shit they open up and find anyways?


I haven't ordered drugs via USPS but have ordered illegal items. I received a letter from customs basically saying "we are not accusing you of anything, but don't do it again.". I received the new package in a couple weeks and the letter 6 months later. This wasn't even a dark market, just a regular website that takes visa.


Maybe dropgangs read Paul Graham's "Do things that don't scale" advice.


Dark net marketplaces also compete with clear net marketplaces for benign things

Millions of people know this and routinely check them for good deals, the propaganda machine has failed to make them "scary"


I'm interested, do you have some examples of what kinds of products you are talking about?


odd goods like you might find in craiglist's for sale section. shared passwords or accounts for streaming websites. books. paintings. collectibles. there are often good deals on any dark net marketplace that pops up. All the way back to Silk Road 1.0.

cheaper than listing on ebay.


Without the ebay protections in place it should be cheaper or it would make little sense to use them.


Multisig escrow is the protection

Its just cheaper mate


Anything that is easy to steal, perhaps?


And everything else? You can use craigslist over TOR

All DNMs offer an expanded audience and borderless payment system that wont freeze your account


> Millions of people know this [...]

That's a pretty big number, would be curious if based on anything more than a guess.


It just echoes what the parent post said, which states millions of people use darknet marketplaces. they see the whole catalogue whether they go straight to the opioids section or not.

sometimes they even list! lower fees than Ebay. Maybe Ebay and Amazon write those Ask Reddit posts about the "scariest thing you've seen on the dark web" to perpetuate that its scary.




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