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Mapping Fentanyl Trades on the Darknet

Mapping Fentanyl Trades on the Darknet

My colleagues Joss Wright, Martin Dittus and I have been scraping the world’s largest darknet marketplaces over the last few months, as part of our darknet mapping project. The data we collected allow us to explore a wide range of trading activities, including the trade in the synthetic opioid Fentanyl, one of the drugs blamed for the […]

Introducing Martin Dittus, Data Scientist and Darknet Researcher

We’re sitting upstairs, hunched over a computer, and Martin is showing me the darknet. I guess I have as good an idea as most people what the darknet is, i.e. not much. We’re looking at the page of someone claiming to be in the UK who’s selling “locally produced” cannabis, and Martin is wondering if […]

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Exploring the Darknet in Five Easy Questions

Many people are probably aware of something called “the darknet” (also sometimes called the “dark web”) or might have a vague notion of what it might be. However, many probably don’t know much about the global flows of drugs, weapons, and other illicit items traded on darknet marketplaces like AlphaBay and Hansa, the two large […]

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Considering the Taylor Review: Ways Forward for the Gig Economy

The Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices in the UK was published last week. The review assesses changes in labour markets and employment practices, and proposes policy solutions. One of the big themes in the report is the rise of platform-mediated gig work. I have been doing research on platform-mediated work for a few years […]

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Can universal basic income counter the ill-effects of the gig economy?

shutterstock.com Platforms like eBay, Uber, Airbnb, and Freelancer are thriving, growing the digital economy and disrupting existing business. The question is how to ensure that the transformations they entail have a positive impact on society. Here, universal basic income may have a role to play. Few social policy ideas are as hot today as universal […]

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Could data pay for global development? Introducing data financing for global good

“If data is the new oil, then why aren’t we taxing it like we tax oil?” That was the essence of the provocative brief that set in motion our recent 6-month research project funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. The results are detailed in the new report: Data Financing for Global Good: A Feasibility Study. The parallels […]

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The blockchain paradox: Why distributed ledger technologies may do little to transform the economy

Bitcoin’s underlying technology, the blockchain, is widely expected to find applications far beyond digital payments. It is celebrated as a “paradigm shift in the very idea of economic organization”. But the OII’s Professor Vili Lehdonvirta contends that such revolutionary potentials may be undermined by a fundamental paradox that has to do with the governance of […]

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The limits of uberization: How far can platforms go?

Platforms that enable users to come together and  buy/sell services with confidence, such as Uber, have become remarkably popular, with the companies often transforming the industries they enter. In this blog post the OII’s Vili Lehdonvirta analyses why the domestic cleaning platform Homejoy failed to achieve such success. He argues that when buyer and sellers enter into repeated transactions they can […]

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Should we love Uber and Airbnb or protest against them?

Some theorists suggest that such platforms are making our world more efficient by natural selection. The reality is a little more complicated. Reposted from The Conversation.   An angry crowd has attacked Uber cars with bars and stones outside Mexico City airport, the latest in a series of worldwide protests against the ride-hailing app. More than 1,000 […]

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Uber and Airbnb make the rules now — but to whose benefit?

Ride-hailing app Uber is close to replacing government-licensed taxis in some cities, while Airbnb’s accommodation rental platform has become a serious competitor to government-regulated hotel markets. Many other apps and platforms are trying to do the same in other sectors of the economy. In my previous post, I argued that platforms can be viewed in […]

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