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Generally speaking, a black market refers to any transaction that is marked by noncompliance with institutional standards or involving illegal aspects. Due to the nature of the transaction, breaking the established rules that specify the collection of commodities and services where the law forbids their production and distribution results in a black market enterprise. As a result, everyone involved in the activities involving the prohibited products and services is seen as a part of the illegal economy. (Black, 2000).
With the development of technology, online black markets where shady deals are made secretly have emerged. Today's online black marketplaces allow for an endless supply of illegal goods, including drugs. For example, Silk Road was the pioneer internet black market that sold illegal drugs. Operated as a tor hidden service, the online users anonymously browsed it securely with no possibility of traffic monitoring. Even if Silk Road was shuttered down and its owner got arrested, that was not the end of the internet black market, and illegal drugs as well as other products are being bought online illegally. The main challenge has been on what law enforcement is going to do in order to crack down internet black markets. Although shipping drugs through mail has been used by drug dealers in the past, internet black markets allow more volumes of packages to be shipped easily and anonymously thereby changing the game forever, and making it even harder for the law enforcement to address.
Currently, law enforcement is under-resourced, but requires an effective approach as internet black market becomes highly prevalent and sophisticated. These markets are backed by money and proficiency of organized crime groups that are established and run as efficient business companies. Just like the internet criminals, law enforcement should turn its attention to the emerging technologies and work with technology organizations to guarantee that illegal transactions are prevented. They should follow money to try and close the finances of the criminals in the internet black markets, thereby depriving them of the power to buy (Moore, Clayton, & Anderson, 2009). The bitcoin, which is the current crypto currency, is an area of focus for law enforcement. Therefore, standards and mitigations should be put in place concerning all digital currencies, especially on their usage, and determine the available opportunities for monitoring and seizure. Moreover, there is a need to update the laws. Digital currencies should be covered by legislations and be recognized as something that can be seized or as an equivalent of money (Ashford, 2016).
Even after Silk Road was shut down, the internet black markets have become smarter and are providing a wider range of varying illegal products. The most important thing to note is that there are more pressing issues that the government should be addressing, which call for a drastic change of the legal approach towards drugs (Forman, Marlowe, & McLellan, 2006). When considering sales of drugs against child pornographers, it is clear that one act is morally wrong compared to the other. Online drug markets are simply illegal because the law has made them so. However, child pornography is morally wrong and illegal. Therefore, law enforcement should not be spending extra resources on trying to eliminate internet black markets when child pornographers are out there. According to BBC (2015), Bonny Klapper became a defense attorney after spending many years prosecuting drug offences because he found no sense in prosecuting the drug traffickers. The people being prosecuted daily in relation to drugs are mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters that view the practice as a route out of their poverty. The notion of trafficking drugs whether online or offline is only considered as an illegal commercial activity by law, and the amount of illegal drugs that qualify the definition differ depending on the place of the offence. On the other hand, it would be plausible if the law enforcement spend resources to eliminate child pornography, which is morally and legally wrong to be practiced in the society.
It is true that the war on drugs has officially been lost. Currently, there is an escalation of internet black markets, and the resources available to enforce laws against it are limited. The internet has two sides, the Clearnet and the Deep Web. The Darknet is within the Deep Web, and can only be accessed using tools that are specialized like TOR to mask the identity of the user. The privacy features in Darknet makes it a safe haven for criminals, and it is a significant challenge for law enforcement in fighting Darknet crimes. Ramsomware remains a top threat for law enforcement as it is used to encrypt significant data and ask for payment in return for decryption keys. The online criminals that operate the ransomware require ransoms in form of bitcoin because it is hard to track. The operators of internet black markets are highly responsive and adoptive, which is why law enforcement needs to be more intelligence-led. Today's proliferation of technologically based services and goods offer an increasing number of opportunities for the internet criminals. However, while such crimes have migrated to the internet, law enforcement is new, especially on how it can navigate the Darknet (Byrne, & Marx, 2011).
The best strategies to try and control or close the internet black markets include setting a cyber-team and an economic team that should work together through the application of the emerging technologies to follow the money with an aim of preventing financial gain because this is the most effective way to disrupt the operations of internet black markets. The law enforcement should look into what it could possibly do to minimize the vulnerability for exploitation of the emerging technologies by the internet criminals. It would be appropriate if law enforcement started focusing on engaging with individuals that are commissioning and designing new devices that are plugged into networks without recognizing the opportunities they create for internet black markets. Therefore, law enforcement should look at what is brought into the market and how it engages in the build phase to address the vulnerabilities to ensure that they are designed out before the consumer can access them and become an exploit (Ashford, 2016). According to Phillip (2015), cybercrime like internet black markets can be controlled if the law enforcement shifts its focus to the internet. Even though the internet gives legitimate access to the international market, Darknet has provided access to international black market.
Some states have legalized marijuana. Therefore, it would be appropriate if the federal government would consider rescheduling it, which will be the best strategy for the federal government to reduce the strain of nonviolent drug convictions on the criminal justice system. No bill should force states to legalize the drug, but there should be a regulatory framework by the federal government for states that have not yet legalized it. Marijuana should be removed from schedule 1, which is the most tightly restricted type that is reserved for drugs without accepted medical applications. Currently, there are reports concerning the use of marijuana for medical benefits in treating diseases like cancer, glaucoma and epilepsy. By rescheduling it, the federal government will permit the medical doctors and pharmacists to prescribe and dispense it for medical purposes where appropriate. Currently, all forms of marijuana applications continue to illegal at the federal level because under the Controlled Substance Act, the drug is grouped as severe as heroin. The issue of criminalization of the drug should be separated from encouraging its application. Currently, the United States' criminal justice system is generally skewed towards cracking down on non-violent offenders of the drug making it have terrible effects on many communities, especially the people of color. As a result, many people have been rendered unemployable because they have felony records as well as disproportionate sentences in prison. Legalization of marijuana is not the best remedy (Schwartz, 2013). There is still a legitimate concern regarding the overall effects such actions could have on the society, especially to the groups that are vulnerable. For many states currently, the language of law says that drugs in Schedule 1 drugs such as marijuana do not have accepted medical application in treatment of disease in the nation. However, search language does not make sense for many Americans that have been helped by the drug to overcome AIDS pain, chemotherapy nausea or epilepsy seizures. If rescheduled, it will be possible to decriminalize it so that citizens can possess it in small amounts. Therefore, the federal government should take the lead and reschedule it. This will prevent locking of thousands of innocent citizens that are found possessing marijuana because it has less possibility of abuse and destructive behavior compared to alcohol (Pacula, Chriqui, Reichmann, & Terry-McElrath, 2002).
Ashford, W. (2016). European law enforcement seeking smart ways to fight cyber-crime. Retrieved online on 10th Feb. 2017 from http://www.computerweekly.com/feature/European-law-enforcement-seeking-smart-ways-to-fight-cyber-crime
BBC. (2015). Has the war on drugs been lost? Retrieved online on 10th Feb. 2017 from http://www.bbc.com/news/health-31922609
Black, B. S. (2000). The legal and institutional preconditions for strong securities markets. UCLA L. Rev., 48, 781.
Byrne, J., & Marx, G. (2011). Technological innovations in crime prevention and policing. A review of the research on implementation and impact. Journal of Police Studies, 20(3), 17-40.
Forman, R. F., Marlowe, D. B., & McLellan, A. T. (2006). The Internet as a source of drugs of abuse. Current psychiatry reports, 8(5), 377-382.
Moore, T., Clayton, R., & Anderson, R. (2009). The economics of online crime. The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 23(3), 3-20.
Pacula, R. L., Chriqui, J. F., Reichmann, D. A., & Terry-McElrath, Y. M. (2002). State medical marijuana laws: Understanding the laws and their limitations. Journal of public health policy, 23(4), 413-439.
Phillip, J. (2015). Fight Against Cybercrime and Terrorism Moves to the Darknet. Retrieved online on 10th Feb. 2017 from http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/1371899-fight-against-cybercrime-and-terrorism-moves-to-the-darknet/
Schwartz, D. S. (2013). High federalism: Marijuana legalization and the limits of federal power to regulate states
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