Online Black Market “Silk Road”: Evading Police Intervention

As the internet continues to penetrate all facets of life, some unfortunate uses of it are bound to occur.  This is just a fact of having a globally connected network, where users can easily remain anonymous and police intervention is a tricky matter.  The online black-market “Silk Road” is a marketplace, not unlike Amazon, but for recreational drugs.  Purchasers and sellers use random IP generating “Tor” browsers to access their anonymous accounts, and make transactions which are shipped anywhere from down the street to across the world.

Due to the invention, and now huge success of BitCoin, there is no need for services like PayPal which could track users activity.  This has created a huge problem for law enforcement, especially in the area of jurisdiction.  It’s extremely hard to determine the location of either the customer or seller because they use random IP generating “Tor” browsers and never use real names or use any personal information on the site.   However, some strides have been made to track packages containing drugs sent from the site.  Just last month an arrest of a drug dealer who was using the site to sell cocaine and methamphetamine was made in Australia.

Despite this recent arrest the future of “Silk Road”, for the time being remains profitable.  Although the site first gained the attention of police in 2011 world-wide, the site remains online and growing.  What will the world do about this black-market? Have drug dealers found a sustainable legal loop-hole similar to international waters?  Only time will tell.

http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-02/01/silk-road-crackdown

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2 thoughts on “Online Black Market “Silk Road”: Evading Police Intervention”

  1. Cool article and cool concept. Scary application. This article is very eye opening, and raises a bunch of legal and economic questions. Silk Road sounds like a totally legitimate idea, but it suffers from confusing jurisdiction and legal consequences. In some places, the sale of marijuana could be legal, (Colorado?) but the person buying the drugs could be in a state where it is illegal (Pennsylvania?). The problem with a globalized world is that there are not globalized laws, and as a result economic interactions are forced to be moderated by archaic and ineffective laws and restrictions. Great article, and hope they keep going! (With the prevention).

    1. I think that comparing the Silk Road to Amazon is a mischaracterization of it the Silk Road. In my opinion, it is more like a global, unregulated, craigslist. And the Silk Road is but one very small part of the Tor network, which is primarily used for truly anonymous internet browsing.

      The interesting thing about Tor and other onion networks is that they mostly all came from DARPA research, or DARPA funded research. De-centerialized information sharing was an important research concept for the US Navy and Intelligence Community in the late 90’s, but the uses for onion networks have expanded rapidly since then.

      Today, both criminals and law enforcement use the deep web and the Tor browser is just the most public of the available services. It’s important to note that the only people that are getting caught on the Silk Road are those that got caught actually shipping the package, Tor is still untraceable.

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