You’ve probably heard of the Darknet – or as it’s sometimes called, the Deep Web. This is the hard-to-find undercurrent of the Internet, where black market websites buy and sell practically anything. And we mean anything: drugs, guns, illegally-harvested organs, hitmen-for-hire. One such site, Silk Road, was shut down by the FBI. Another, Utopia, was the target of a sting by Dutch police. Now another site, Agora, is being trawled by a Swiss/UK art collective, which devised software that browsed the site’s illegal offerings. Vulture reports that Mediengruppe Bitnik uses “a weekly budget of $100 in Bitcoins, the bot randomly makes one purchase per week. The illicit goods are then shipped to the Kunsthalle St. Gallen in Switzerland, where they’re exhibited in display cases as cumulative additions to the museum’s current exhibition, titled ‘The Darknet – From Memes to Onionland.'” So far the project has received ecstasy pills, a baseball hat with a hidden camera, knock-off Nike sneakers, cigarettes, an ebook of Lord of the Rings, and a Visa Platinum credit card.
Budding spies can also buy a decoy first-class letter. The seller writes “This is a simple service, a single plain letter or card will be sent to the address of your choice. There may or may not be some sort of correspondence on the inside, most of the time they will just contain blank paperwork … What is the purpose of this? you may ask: to see if your roommates/parents are scrutinizing or opening your mail; to test a new drop address; to see if your mail is flagged or somehow otherwise interrupted; to simply fill up your PO box / mailbox with something besides drug mail.” Well, it’s certainly more interesting than ebay.