By NATHANIEL POPPER
A free market ideology has long been the prevailing ethos on the online markets where drugs and stolen credit cards are for sale.
But a fierce debate has erupted among the operators and users of these markets over whether free markets need some limits.
On Tuesday, one of the largest marketplaces operating on the so-called dark web, Hansa Market, decided to institute new limits by banning the sale of the deadly synthetic opioid known as fentanyl, which has been at the center of the nationwide overdose epidemic.
On Hansa Market’s messaging forums, some users quickly celebrated the decision.
“Fentanyl ruins lives,” a user going by the screen name vancough wrote. “Literally ruins lives. I think people can be successful without ruining someone’s life. Call me soft, but I don’t think there’s any room for that here.”
But there was also resistance from free market purists. And most other similar websites are continuing to allow the sale of fentanyl.
“I know you’re coming from a humanitarian place in your desire for this wish,” an opponent of the ban wrote in response to a supporter of it. “I’m just an anarcho-capitalist to the core. Free markets all day. Free markets will always work themselves out.”