Book Review by Cari Mayhew. Rating 7/10
For those who don’t know, the dark net is hidden seedier internet just below the regular surface internet. In this work of non-fiction, Bartlett explores the dark net’s various elusive and somewhat criminal goings-on; often going out of his way in the name of research.
The book kicks off with a dramatic introduction, talking about the Assassination Market. The assassination market is basically an online list of names and dates. Participants bet on what date an individual on the list will die. If a bet is correctly “guessed”, the winner walks away with all the winnings. Unfortunately, this was the shortest chapter and had the least amount of research made evident.
The drama continues in the following chapter which is about trolling, however this chapter read like a history book, and didn’t live up to the precedent set in the introduction. Shortly afterward though, Bartlett goes on to talk about one-man political parties, who set up several accounts on several sites to get their propaganda trending.
Later on Bartlett journeys into the strange real world community of Calafou. Here he meets cypherpunks and explains the crypto-currency Bitcoin to the reader. This, unfortunately, was another rather drab chapter.
The shortest chapter following the introduction was entitled “Three clicks”, which was named so when the author tried to find out how long it would take him to find child porn using free software known as “The Onion Router” and the “Hidden Wiki”. (Of course the author reported it to the police.)
There’s also a chapter on pro-anorexia and pro-self-harm sites.
And when I said the author often went out of his way in the name of research, I wasn’t kidding! The author went on the online “Silk Road” to purchase a very small amount of marijuana! And later still Bartlett is in the actual bedroom of a webcam star as she performs a rude show with 3 other women!
Reading a book on the dark net is the closest I’m ever going to get to actually using the dark net, so I wanted a lot from this book. I learned that the dark net would be pretty easy to navigate if I really wanted to use it. That said there was nothing in the book that would entice me to do anything that might involve covering my tracks.
So although there were a couple of chapters that were unnecessarily long, the other chapters definitely made up for it! Aside from the lack of detail on the Assassination Market, the remainder of the book appears well researched, with a lot of face to face and online meetings between the author and the people in the know.