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Swiss Police Seize Bot Used To Buy Drugs On The Deep Web

Recently many reports appeared about An automated bot called the “Random Darknet Shopper” that was programmed to buy random products from the Dark Net Markets (From Agora, if to be more accurate) as part of an art exhibit in Switzerland. Once a week the bot went on a shopping spree on the Agora marketplace buying random products, some of which were illegal (list).

According to  the art collective !Mediengruppe Bitnik who operated the bot – Swiss police seized the art exhibit on Jan. 12 at after operating for the last three months. The Bot was programmed by two London-based Swiss artists, Carmen Weisskopf and Domagoj Smoljo, who claimed to be exploring the societal implications of robots breaking the law and the ethical implications of the Dark Net Markets.

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The group who made the bot released a statement saying:

On the morning of January 12, the day after the three-month exhibition was closed, the public prosecutor’s office of St. Gallen seized and sealed our work. It seems, the purpose of the confiscation is to impede an endangerment of third parties through the drugs exhibited by destroying them. This is what we know at present. We believe that the confiscation is an unjustified intervention into freedom of art. We’d also like to thank Kunst Halle St. Gallen for their ongoing support and the wonderful collaboration. Furthermore, we are convinced, that it is an objective of art to shed light on the fringes of society and to pose fundamental contemporary questions.

!Mediengruppe Bitnik, January 15 2015

The creator was not prosecuted so far as far as we know.

3 comments

  1. It’s adhering to the law: the day after the art show ended, the ‘offending robot’ was ‘arrested’.

    Kind of weird, but as the artists say, it is new ground, legally.

    • Can we all stop for a moment and remember that laptops aren’t robots? A bot is just a program designed to perform scripted actions online. This one’s not even particularly sophisticated (not that it needed to be).

  2. I can’t believe how the robot purchase the products… how obtained the PGP keys, selected the shipping method, payed with bitcoins, transfered the exact money to the seller, etc… probably with the help of humans… or not?

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