CNN Falsely Quotes Europol Report Mentioning OpenBazaar

On October 2nd CNN Money wrote an article entitled, “Police: High-tech criminals have us outmatched and outgunned.” In the article, they discuss a Europol report on cybercrime.

This article mentions OpenBazaar multiple times – and in every mention CNN gets the facts wrong.

1. “…underground marketplaces online are getting smarter. They’re now decentralized too. No one person is in control. There’s no single computer server to shut down, no dragon’s head to chop off.”

Only one problem: OpenBazaar is not an underground marketplace. Those marketplaces were built specifically for illicit goods, and rely on technology (such as Tor) which obfuscates identity online.

OpenBazaar is entirely different. It’s a decentralized platform, not controlled by anyone, and not run for profit. It’s not being built for any subset of trade, but gives anyone in the world the power to buy and sell any type of goods and services with anyone else. It doesn’t use Tor or any tool to obfuscate identity.

2. “But now police are starting to see marketplaces like OpenBazaar. It’s a peer-to-peer operation, just sellers and buyers. There’s no kingpin to arrest. Europol compares OpenBazaar to BitTorrent, where people trade pirated movies and music.”

Police are not starting to see marketplaces like OpenBazaar, because OpenBazaar hasn’t launched yet. In the Europol report OpenBazaar is briefly mentioned under the “Future Threats and Developments” section. They clearly refer to OpenBazaar as “emerging technology.”

3. “The fight against OpenBazaar is going just about as well as the fight against illegally copied media (not well).”

This claim is a complete fabrication. There is no “fight against OpenBazaar” or any conflict between the marketplace and law enforcement at all, for several reasons. The most obvious reason is that it’s impossible, since OpenBazaar hasn’t launched yet. Equally important is the point that OpenBazaar isn’t an underground marketplace at all, and law enforcement has no more reason to “fight against OpenBazaar” as they have to fight against any other online platform.

In fact, this one bullet point is the entire extent of the recommentations the Eurpol report had regarding OpenBazaar:

  • “Law enforcement should collaborate with private sector andacademia to explore investigative and research opportunitiesrelated to emerging technologies such as decentralised marketplaces like OpenBazaar.”

CNN took a brief mention of OpenBazaar in a Europol report and turned it into a false narrative of law enforcement against decentralized markets. There is no conflict. OpenBazaar exists to eliminate the middleman from ecommerce, taking fees down to 0% and allowing people to trade directly with each other online.

The world doesn’t have a standard protocol for trading goods and services online, nor does it have a network to share information about those goods and services. OpenBazaar finally creates a protocol and network that is free and open for all. As such, we expect that the use of OpenBazaar will largely reflect how society trades at large – almost entirely legitimate, positive trade with a small portion of people using it for illicit activity. We’re excited to see – once we’ve actually launched – how people will use OpenBazaar to make their own lives better.