Silk Road, the Online Black Market, Is Already Back

Science & Tech / Web Culture

Silk Road, the Online Black Market, Is Already Back

By: Chris O'Shea

When the government finally shut down the online drug and illegal goods marketplace Silk Road, no one really expected it to be the end. Sure enough, less than three months after Silk Road's alleged founder Ross Ulbricht was caught in the most pathetic way possible (dude used his personal email and name when asking for tech support!) a new Silk Road has emerged. Silk Road 2.0 already has almost 1,000 listings for everything from heroin to guns, and proves once again that you can't stop people from doing bad things, you can only hope to contain them.

The FBI had been trying to bring down the original Silk Road for two years before investigators were able to track down Ulbricht due to his slip up on a message board. The site had been the dark digital space for people with illegal goods for quite some time, and experts guess about $1.2 billion in transactions passed accord through it. Sadly enough, the behemoth ended not with a roar, but a whimper. Ubricht was having technical issues, and for some reason, experienced the worst kind of brain fart a criminal kingpin can experience: He gave out his own name and personal information. "That was his fatal flaw — it was pretty ridiculous that you would put your real name out there if you're going to create this — become a criminal mastermind, but that's what he did," John Biggs, Techcrunch's East Coast editor, told CBS News.

Things were calm for a bit, but it didn't take long before Silk Road visitors started talking about a new version. "Silk Road 2.0 will be reborn better, much much more secure as testament to the tenacity and determination of this wonderful community of ours,” one moderator wrote on a fan forum. Another, slightly more dramatic fan of Silk Road, added "We will not be downtrodden, we will rise again. Into the breach once more my friends!"

Shortly afterward, Silk Road 2 (SR 2) went online. The site is basically the same as Silk Road, and even rubs the authorities collective nose in its similarities, using the FBI shutdown screen as its login page. SR 2 also boasts even more security. While used Tor encryption and Bitcoin, SR 2 uses PGP encryption as well.

The government is surely already hunting down SR 2's creators, but it won't matter if they shut that version down too. There are already other sites that do exactly the same thing, like Black Market Reloaded. As AllThingsVice reported, "The Silk Road faithful hope that this is a new beginning and proof that, as the closure of Napster did nothing to stop piracy, the closure of the single largest black market will be ineffective in the grand scheme of online narcotics sales." The war on drugs continues. Why? We have no idea.

[Pic via screengrab]

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