Drugs and New Technologies (DNeT)

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Date Commenced:
09/2012
Expected Date of Completion:
Ongoing
Project Supporters:

Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing

Project Members: 
image - 1313980976 Amanda Roxburgh 010
Senior Research Officer
Ph 02 9385 0333
Project Main Description: 

The Drugs and New Technologies (DNeT) project aims to investigate substance availability on online drug marketplaces, as well as market characteristics and consumer activity. This is accomplished by monitoring ‘cryptomarkets’, operating on the ‘dark net’,a series of domains accessible only by specially routed connections, such as the ‘Silk Road’. It also aims to monitor new drugs as they emerge, as well as internet forum discussion of these drugs. Findings are then placed within the context of other available indicators, such as the Ecstasy and related Drugs Reporting System (EDRS), to assess the impact of online drug availability on the Australian drug market.

For more information about the project and all resources, visit drugtrends.org.au

Project Collaborators: External: 

Dr Raimondo Bruno
University of Tasmania

Aims: 

The DNeT project aims to:

  • Provide a timely and accurate description of online availability of illicit and emerging substances
  • Quantify the extent and diversity of this availability across online platforms
  • Contextualise online marketplaces within the greater Australian and international drug market monitoring
Design and Method: 

DNeT consists of accessing active cryptomarkets weekly and quantifying the range of substances available, the number of unique vendors and, where possible, the price of common quantities of illicit substances and the countries of origin of vendors. This data is collected over time and assessed for changes that may arise due to policy and legislation changes, as well as high profile media stories involving emerging substances and online marketplaces. The project also accesses online discussion forums to analyse the content and context of these discussions.

Progress/Update: 

Following the FBI seizure and closure of the largest cryptomarket, the Silk Road, in October 2013, and ‘Operation Onymous’ the law enforcement operation that seized Silk Road 2.0 and a range of other cryptomarkets in November 2014, DNeT has continued to focus on monitoring the emergence of new markets, and changes in the remaining markets still in operation. Currently, eighteen different active cryptomarkets are monitored weekly for changes in the availability of illicit and emerging substances.

Additionally, the analysis of discussion forums attached to cryptomarkets is currently in progress.

Output: 

Two bulletins detailing findings are released each year. These bulletins can be found below in the 'Resources' section. In addition the following peer reviewed papers have been published.

Van Buskirk J; Naicker S; Roxburgh A; Bruno R; Burns L, 2016, 'Who sells what? Country specific differences in substance availability on the Agora cryptomarket.', Int J Drug Policy, vol. 35, pp. 16 - 23, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2016.07.004

Van Buskirk J; Roxburgh A; Bruno R; Naicker S; Lenton S; Sutherland R; Whittaker E; Sindicich N; Matthews A; Butler K, 2016, 'Characterising dark net marketplace purchasers in a sample of regular psychostimulant users.', Int J Drug Policy, vol. 35, pp. 32 - 37, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2016.01.010

Van Buskirk J; Roxburgh A; Naicker S; Burns L, 2015, 'Response to Dolliver - Evaluating drug trafficking on the Tor network', International Journal of Drug Policy, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2015.07.001

Burns L; Roxburgh A; Bruno R; Van Buskirk J, 2014, 'Monitoring drug markets in the Internet age and the evolution of drug monitoring systems in Australia', Drug Testing and Analysis, vol. 6, pp. 840 - 845, http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/dta.1613

Van Buskirk, J., Roxburgh, A., Farrell, M., & Burns, L. (2014). The closure of the Silk Road: what has this meant for online drug trading? Addiction. 109(4): 517-518. doi: 10.1111/add.12422

Project Research Area: 
Project Status: 
Current