Weeks after the U.S. Department of Justice shut down Silk Road, the online black market dedicated to selling drugs and weapons to anyone with the Bitcoin, a group of profit-minded administrators have booted up Silk Road 2.0.
Just like its predecessor, Silk Road 2.0 features everything from drugs and erotica to forgeries and jewelry, and relies on the same combination of TOR and Bitcoin to keep its shoppers anonymous. According to Forbes (which pulled the information from AllThingsVice), the new Website permits PGP encryption keys for an added layer of security. In a humorous nod to the old Website’s legal issues, the new version features a login page that’s a defaced version of the Justice Department’s online shutdown notice.
Someone with the Twitter handle Dread Pirate Roberts—the same moniker as Silk Road’s original administrator—has been vigorously Tweeting about Silk Road reborn. In October, the FBI arrested one Ross William Ulbricht as the original Dread Pirate Roberts, and arraigned him on charges of money laundering; it’s highly unlikely that he’s the new DPR, since he’s sitting in a jail cell.
“Silk Road is not one man,” the new Dread Pirate Roberts wrote in a posting on the new Silk Road’s forums, according to Mashable. “Silk Road is an idea, and where Silk Road now lies is in the people who made it what it was and it is those people who will, with a little help, bring the idea back to life again under a new name.” Or the same name with a new version number tacked onto the end, whichever works.
The new Silk Road apparently had a Nov. 5 launch date—Guy Fawkes Day, which the popular “V for Vendetta” turned into a symbol of revolution, which at least in the minds of some people equates with an online black market for illegal substances—but that ended up delayed a few hours.
The big question is whether Silk Road’s previous clients will trust this new iteration. After all, if the federal government wanted to set up a honeypot for monitoring illegal activities, reviving a black market it shut down would be a perfect way to go about that very task (Kashmir Hill, another Forbes writer, already floated that possibility on her Twitter feed). But with measures such as TOR in place, a portion of Silk Road’s users might be tempted to come back—provided they haven’t already migrated to another black market site.
Image: Silk Road 2.0