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"The immediate problem with our meat brains is that they have no back-up. We can lose the most precious information we have from one bump on the head or stroke. You want a mind system with back-up that can access other databases."
- Bart Kosko

Blacknet  
  An antisocial networking site.  

Forming a criminal network is time-consuming and dangerous. What if you could just post your requirements online, and have proper villains reply?

"Is a blacknet what I think it is?" asks Elaine...

"Probably... At the protocol level, it's an anonymous peer-to-peer currency system. It asks you to do favors, it does you favors. Like, be in front of a building with a running motor at such a time with the back doors open, and drive to an address where someone'll be waiting for you with a wallet full of cash and another stolen car." At least, that's the innocent-sounding version, because, let's face it, burglary and criminal damage go together like love and marriage, or robbery and a get-away carriage - and most of the stuff blacknets get used for starts there and gets worse real fast. None of the perps know each other, because it's all done with zero-knowledge proofs and anonymous remixers running out of zombie servers on some poor victim's home entertainment system that's downloaded one piece of X-rated malware too many.

From Halting State, by Charles Stross.
Published by Ace in 2007
Additional resources -

Stross makes a generic word "blacknet" out of a specific experiment performed in 1994 by Tim May. He set up what he described as a "working information market" using PGP for secure communication. May describes it as follows:

BlackNet allowed fully-anonymous, two-way exchanges of information of all sorts. The basic idea was to use a "message pool," a publicly readable place for messages. By using chains of remailers, messages could be untraceably and anonymously deposited in such pools, and then read anonymously by others (because the message pool was broadcast widely, a la Usenet). By including public keys for later communications, two-way communication could be established, all within the message pool. What was missing at the time of this experiment was some form of untraceable payment, i.e., digital cash.

Read more about Untraceable Digital Cash, Information Markets, and BlackNet and the Introduction to Blacknet.

This is a better way to do it; in the old days, when a criminal hacker wanted to get his dirty work done, he used the old-fashioned method. Here's how John Varley described it in his excellent 1984 novella Press Enter.

"...That page was torn out of the records."

"I don't get it. Kluge never left the house."

"Oldest way in the world, friend. Kluge looked through the LAPD [computer] files until he found a guy known as Sammy. He sent him a cashier's check for a thousand dollars, along with a letter saying that he could earn twice as much if he'd go to the hall of records and do something. Sammy didn't bite, and neither did McGee, or Molly Unger. But little Billy Phipps did, and he got a check just like the letter said, and he and Kluge had a wonderful business relationship for many years. Little Billy drives a Cadillac now, and hasn't the faintest notion who Kluge was or where he lived. It doesn't matter to Kluge how much he spent. He pulled it out of thin air."

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Halting State
  More Ideas and Technology by Charles Stross
  Tech news articles related to Halting State
  Tech news articles related to works by Charles Stross

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