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Some of the goods ordered from the darknet by Random Darknet ShopperiMediengruppe Bitnik

Police release MDMA-buying online art bot without charge

The artists behind Random Darknet Shopper say ‘this is a great day for the bot, for us and for freedom of art!’

An MDMA-buying bot has been declared free to go after prosecutors ruled that its possession of ecstasy was justifed as it sparked reasonable public debate. Last year, Swiss art collective !Mediengruppe Bitnik exhibited a piece of art called Random Darknet Shopper. The premise was simple – the bot scoured the deep web making purchases at random with a budget of $100 for each trip.

The bot ordered all manner of illegal goods: counterfeit clothing, untaxed cigarettes and oddly, a set of fire brigade master keys. However, Swiss feds decided enough was enough when the naughty bot ordered ten ecstasy tablets from Agora, now the world's largest darknet marketplace. The cops seized the bot a day after the exhibition. The artists were unimpressed, telling Dazed that they wanted the bot back as soon as possible. Now they've got their wish.

iMediengruppe Bitnik announced on its site: "Random Darknet Shopper has finally been released and is now back in our possession. All items were kept sealed and untouched except the ecstasy, which was taken out of its vacuum-sealed packing. It was tested positive for MDMA by the authorities, and then destroyed. So, three months after the confiscation in January, all items except the ecstasy were given back to us by the public prosecutor."

The artists were never truly concerned about jail time. In fact, at the time the bot was confiscated iMediengruppe Bitnik told us that the prosecutors were enjoying being part of the project, because it raised interesting questions in their field.

There will be no further action taken against the artists, who say that "we as well as the Random Darknet Shopper have been cleared of all charges". However, we'd probably advise that if the police ever catch you with pills, don't try and say it's in the name of art.

(h/t Hopes and Fears)