Does Online Anonymity Boost Illegal Market Trading?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Anonymity allows the online trade in illegal products and services on cryptomarkets to flourish in spite of being enacted in a public location. Bolstered by the extensive media coverage of the cryptomarket trade in drugs, fraud and weapons, these platforms may function as a kind of criminal ‘gateway’, and in so doing facilitate – or indeed amplify – criminality. I argue, however, that researchers must establish – not assume – that the criminality facilitated by online anonymity will exclusively and uniformly produce more harmful outcomes. I consider here two possibilities in connection to the cryptomarket trade in illegal drugs: reduced drug market violence and reduced drug harms to users. Whether these potential ‘benefits’ are viewed as valuable will vary and depend substantially on the perspective and interests of the observer, including drug sellers, drug buyers, law enforcement officials, and academic researchers.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalMedia, Culture and Society
Early online date11 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019