It was supposed to be a great story about terrorism, uncertainty and the evils of the DarkNet. The title of German TV Show #Beckmann “Fear of terror – how endangered is Germany?” already gave a hint where it was heading. Channel ARD’s production aimed to scare its viewers creating an atmosphere of angst. Security experts proclaimed the amazing conclusion that it’s not 100% sure that there won’t be a terrorist attack in Germany. The show tried to put the DarkNet into context of this fear, in an attempt to demonize TOR, Bitcoin and mostly the DarkNet.
In the beginning of the show, host Reinhold Beckmann assigns a third party to buy one of the famous Avtomat Kalashnikova machine guns. They even took the effort to bring the head of the German Bundeskriminalamt (Federal Criminal Police Office) into the show, who said it’s possible to order weapons on the DarkNet. Looks like he’s the guy that gave Beckmann the idea for the greatest digital investigative journalism experiment of all times.
If he had done little research he could have known that most weapon dealers on the DarkNet are actually scams – especially if they want to trade outside the known marketplaces and offer an assault rifle like the Kalashnikov for cheap. Where exactly Beckmann’s team tried to order the rifle is unknown, not unlikely that he fell for one of the known scam weapon shops like the Armory.
So in the end, there was little media attention yet, the Kalashnikov never arrived the show actually got scammed for $800 in Bitcoin. The German customs say that it would also be likely that they would have intercepted the delivery. The deserved backlash did not happen. The demonisation attempt of the DarkNet failed ridiculously – but somehow worked out on another level.