Bitcoin anonymity software Dark Wallet may facilitate money laundering online

1 May 2014

Amir Taaki, one of the individuals behind Dark Wallet, software that may be used for illegal purposes

A new piece of software known as Dark Wallet is to be released, allowing a user to make his or her bitcoin transactions totally anonymous and potentially changing how money is laundered.

The news of the software’s launch today is likely to make many governments, particularly the US government, anxious about the intentions of the application of a cryptocurrency they feel is beyond authoritative legislation and a haven for the criminal underworld looking to trade in the currency rather than traceable standard currencies.

Speaking to Wired, two members of a politically motivated coding group known as unSystem, decided they want to prevent any snooping – particularly from the US government – of users of bitcoin. The US has begun examining how to introduce tighter controls of the cryptocurrency, especially after the collapse of the Japanese trader Mt Gox earlier this year.

The two 26-year-old men responsible for Dark Wallet are Cody Wilson and Amir Taaki, who have both gained notoriety in their own rights. Wilson developed the world’s first 3D-printed gun, while Taaki is a self-proclaimed anarchist and developer of a decentralised bitcoin marketplace known as DarkMarket.

The project received US$50,000 (and bitcoin, unsurprisingly) needed for development through crowdfunding site Indiegogo last October.

Dark Wallet

A screenshot of how Dark Wallet will look, via Wired

‘Bad things are going to happen’

There is no denying that both Wilson and Taki are not shying away from the fact the software may be used illegally, particularly on ‘The Dark Web’, which is known as the eBay for illegal activities. In Wilson’s own words: “Well, yes, bad things are going to happen on these marketplaces … Liberty is a dangerous thing.”

The claim that Dark Wallet could bring greater security to the online currency is not without merit, however, given that every single bitcoin transaction is logged in a database known as ‘blockchain’ that is sent to thousands of different computers every day in an effort to monitor fraud.

In terms of how the site works, the software is based off a piece of code known as CoinJoin, which combines two totally random bitcoin transactions and encrypts them, thus making them almost impossible to trace.

Wilson and Taki have also launched a teaser video in preparation for Dark Wallet’s launch, with an introduction by Taaki holding a replica of a machine gun and saying, “Should I call it Drug Market Ultra, or Death Market Revived?”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic