Creators of New Fed-Proof Bitcoin Marketplace Swear It’s Not for Drugs

When the recording industry smashed Napster with a $20 billion lawsuit more than a decade ago, filesharing morphed into Bittorrent, a fully peer-to-peer system with no central server for law enforcement to attack. Now the developers behind one software project are trying to pull off a similar trick with the anarchic model of bitcoin e-commerce pioneered by the billion-dollar Silk Road black market. And just as with Bittorrent, their new system may be so decentralized that not even its creators can control exactly how it will be used.
This weekend, the developers behind OpenBazaar plan to release a beta version of the software designed to let anyone privately and directly buy and sell goods online with no intermediary. They describe it as ‘pseudonymous, uncensored trade.’ Rather than hosting its commerce on any server, OpenBazaar installs on users’ PCs, and allows them to list products in a file stored in a so-called ‘distributed hash table,’ a database spread across many users’ machines. Everything will be paid in bitcoin. The result of that peer-to-peer architecture, they hope, will be a marketplace that no one – – no government, no company, not even the OpenBazaar programmers – can regulate or shut down.
‘We’re just really passionate about allowing peer-to-peer trade to happen online. We want that to exist,’ says Sam Patterson, the operations lead for the non-profit project. ‘The internet allowed you to communicate directly. Bitcoin allowed you to send money directly. Now you can trade directly.’

This post was published at Wired on 08.28.14.

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