Since 2016, the OpenBazaar community of users and developers have been discussing the idea to expand the platform’s operations to I2P, the second most significant anonymity network online.
OpenBazaar is an offshoot of the online market that has been known to utilize blockchain technology in supporting its platform. Bitcoin has been instrumental in allowing OpenBazaar to compete with popular online markets like eBay.
This milestone has been achieved through the creation of structures that would permit peer-to-peer transactions with the exclusion of an intermediary, thus allowing the online marketplace to tailor the entire scheme to its commercial advantage.
The market dynamics of the OpenBazaar user base, and its subsequent expansion, has been contingent on the platform’s continual willingness to adopt cutting-edge technologies and evolve to meet growing online market demands.
Specifically, user anonymity has stood to become among the top priorities of the site.
For a few years now, developer suggestions have emerged to highlight the potential that an OpenBazaar-I2P expansion might bring. Some users have brought up the idea to create an OpenBazzar-to-I2P port. Others have expressed their openness to an I2P integration in welcoming a new era that just might shadow the age-old supremacy of the most popular anonymity network, Tor.
In the past, OpenBazaar has addressed the possibility of an I2P expansion, provided some technical limitations are successfully bypassed. On occasion, the company has also said it’s open to the idea of integrating the tool to enhance user privacy.
The Roadmap: OpenBazaar’s Mission
Since its initial launch, OpenBazaar has continuously added new features and technical advancements. But how exactly has the platform evolved? To clarify this examination, one must understand the origins and fundamental workings of this marketplace.
It is noted that OpenBazaar has refuted its supposed labeling as one of the darknet markets that the internet hosts. As seen in a dedicated blog post on the subject, OpenBazaar has distanced itself from claims that it is an established marketplace that supports dark web activities.
While this premise may hold some water, it is an undeniable fact that OpenBazaar possesses the technical attributes to operate as a decentral darknet market. If memory serves us right, even the infamous Silk Road began like this.
The original OpenBazaar 1.0 featured all the trappings of an online marketplace except Tor integration. This was attributable to the fact that its structural components were not designed to accommodate the anonymity tool.
The UDP Protocol used by the old OpenBazaar meant that users became exposed continuously to privacy leaks. Naturally, this aspect would keep OpenBazaar “clean” of drug dealers and their cohorts. This meant that the site was used by regular vendors to sell mainstream products across the economic divide.
As history would have it, the eventual integration of Tor into OpenBazaar culminated into the entry of alternative goods into the marketplace.
Currently, the OpenBazaar marketplace boasts of advanced search features, the application of Tor, a Bitcoin wallet and other store integrations. A simple search into the OpenBazaar market exposes a user to the now-diverse portfolio borne by the site.
OpenBazaar has become an essential platform that oversees the exchange of a wide variety of goods between vendors from all spectra of commerce.
The presence of darknet market vendors is somewhat conspicuous owing to the increased anonymity in services rendered via OpenBazaar.
While OpenBazaar may not outcompete darknet markets, its use of Tor and the possible future integration of I2P may go a long way in carving a niche for itself as the ultimate one-stop shop for prolific darknet market vendors.
The Great Onion Debate: Is I2P Better Than Tor?
Various questions may be raised concerning the rationale of OpenBazaar to possibly embrace the I2P community. Perhaps the essential deliberation will surround the significance of particular features borne in the application of the two most significant anonymity tools available on the internet today.
This question has been christened as The Great Onion Debate, an extensive analysis of the merits and demerits of using either Tor or I2P.
But is I2P better than Tor?
Both Tor and I2P are applicable in the world of online anonymity. They enable users to establish dedicated channels through which they may exercise their freedoms in a secure environment. To the layperson, this can be seen as the creation of tunnels through an otherwise open environment that supports all manner of factors.
Privacy is vital in the context of darknet markets. This is attributed to the nature of commerce done on these platforms and the overall consequences attached to compromised user privacy. While Tor and I2P fulfill the same objective, they approach this function in different ways.
Nevertheless, the question of whether I2P provides a better guarantee of online security than Tor is somewhat ambiguous. This approach depends on numerous technical considerations that typify the operating rules provided by both networks.
Tor encrypts communication by establishing several layers of code to cover user packets. This occurs in a system that restricts all routers to the mechanism, allowing only selected devices to decrypt the layers. In this manner, all routers are only able to detect their fellow by recognizing the particular routers sending them specific packets. In a nutshell, the Tor network is circuit switched.
I2P, on the other hand, does not use a single path to relay media. Instead, it depends on technology allowing it to be packet switched, an aspect that sets it apart from the working of Tor.
Further, Tor applies SOCKS proxy which makes it technically inferior to I2P that seemingly performs better on security levels. I2P also supports P2P sharing, a factor that distinguishes it from Tor.
Advantages of I2P Over Tor
There are several merits of choosing I2P over Tor. As mentioned earlier in this article, I2P has established itself as a reliable anonymity tool. It has been created and optimized for a private network. This makes it relatively faster than Tor.
While both platforms appear to offer similar browsing experiences, I2P is laden with hidden services that outcompete their Tor equivalents.
This reality can be considered to provide a fresh breath of air to persons that have been bogged down by occasional disappointments by the Tor network.
The fact that I2P is self-organizing gives it a competitive edge over Tor. This also extends to its attribute of profiling performance as opposed to relying on quoted capacity. Additionally, this tool has been created on a simple foundation, which means that it has not been blocked.
Further, I2P is peer-to-peer friendly, and this makes it easy to set up. In this respect, all peers have been empowered with the ability to participate in routing for their colleagues.
The certitude that the APIs utilized by I2P are tailored for anonymity gives the platform an additional advantage compared to SOCKS used by Tor. SOCKS is fundamentally vested in the provisions of functionality while APIs are great for online security.
Moving on, I2P bears advanced protection against the detection of user activity. This feature has been enabled by shaping tunnels to not only convey information but to advance security protocols.
In this regard, I2P tunnels have a short lifespan which limits the gravity of damage that can be inflicted by an attacker. On the other hand, Tor’s circuits live long, and this may aggravate the extent of changes caused by active attacks on the network.
Ultimately, the understanding of this subject solely depends on an individual’s primary research.
It is agreeable that both Tor and I2P present sensible solutions to issues surrounding online anonymity. They both allow users to access content and communicate with others within the confines of unparalleled privacy.
Of course, when choosing either of these platforms, one should acknowledge the certainty that their Internet Service Provider can detect Tor or I2P usage. While these ISPs may not be able to determine actual user content, it is advisable that anonymity enthusiasts actualize full privacy by utilizing sound Virtual Private Network services.
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