By Cyrus Farivar
About a month ago, notorious Tor- and Bitcoin-enabled drug marketplace The Silk Road was seized and shuttered by American law enforcement.
You didn’t think that was the end of the story, did you?
Now, yet another anonymous person online has taken up the persona of Dread Pirate Roberts and created The Silk Road 2.0 (http://silkroad6ownowfk.onion, naturally only reachable via a Tor Browser). The new marketplace has not just the same logo and layout, but also many active vendors. While there are a number of other sites that have sprung up in the wake of the original Silk Road, this new one appears to best retain the spirit of its predecessor. (Ars editor Cyrus Farivar has created an account under "cfarivar" for journalistic purposes, but owns no bitcoins and has no intention of making any purchases.)
Indeed, the new DPR has retained much of the same bombastic rhetoric in a new message sent out to users on Wednesday.
Over the last 4 weeks, we have implemented a complete security overhaul. This overhaul marks the dawn of a brand new era for hidden services, and it would not have been possible without the patient support of this community. So for waiting patiently; for offering encouragement; for keeping the community spirit alive in Silk Road’s temporary absence; for all of this and more, each of you has my deepest and most sincere gratitude.
It took the FBI two and a half years to do what they did. Divide, conquer, and eliminate was their strategy… but four weeks of temporary silence is all they got. And as our resilient community bounces back even stronger than ever before, never forget that they can only ever seize assets – they can never arrest our spirit, our ideas, or our passion, unless we let them.
We will not let them.
Like its predecessor, the new Silk Road offers both drugs (heroin, ecstasy, marijuana) and fake documents—one vendor purports to be selling Lithuanian passports for the low price of about $2,000.
The site isn’t quite ready for visitors to buy and sell goods just yet. DPR has outlined a staggered rollout between November 6 and November 9 when sales can begin.
According to Mashable, the new Silk Road has a similar structure to the old—the site is taking a 4 to 8 percent cut of each transaction. New vendors will have to send a “dated message with a PGP encryption key known to the former Silk Road” or send a $200 refundable bond to be repaid once the vendor provides his or her bona fides.
Government officials have already taken notice of the new site.
“This new website—launched barely a month after Federal agents shut down the original Silk Road—underscores the inescapable reality that technology is dynamic and ever-evolving and that government policy needs to adapt accordingly," Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) said in a statement on his website on Wednesday.
"Rather than play ‘whack-a-mole’ with the latest website, currency, or other method criminals are using in an effort to evade the law, we need to develop thoughtful, nimble, and sensible federal policies that protect the public without stifling innovation and economic growth."