Is a Darknet business really a business?

Wednesday 4th October 2017, 6:30 pm.

Speaker: Angus Bancroft, lecturer in Sociology at the University of Edinburgh

Venue: Room 4.31, University of Edinburgh Informatics Forum, 10 Crichton Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9AB.

This event is free of charge and open to all.

Refreshments and networking from 6:00 pm.

This talk will be live streamed at and a recording will be available after the event thanks to Product Forge.


Cyber-crime is increasingly discussed in terms evoking business, but what kinds of business are involved? Are online criminal enterprises business-like in the sense of being organised, persistent profit seeking enterprises and what are the implications for their customers? I use a study of illicit drug focused darknet cryptomarkets to examine the business types available to cybercriminals and critically examine the underlying assumptions about market relationships that are implied in much of the discussion of cybercriminal marketplaces. I draw on a combination of interviews and discussion forum data to examine the motivations and experiences of actors at different levels and with different roles in cryptomarkets. I set out the range of business types in evidence, which are separable by the direction the vendors are moving in and their embedding in wider social networks both on and off-line. I argue that many of the activities involved in cryptomarkets involve critically conceptualising and challenging some of the implications of having a ‘perfect free market in crime’.

About the speaker


Angus Bancroft is a lecturer in Sociology at the University of Edinburgh. He researches illicit drug use and cryptomarkets. His most recent book is ‘Dead White Men and Other Important People: Sociology’s Big Ideas’ with Ralph Fevre.

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