The Silk Road is a website that is only accessible through the Tor network.
The TOR network, which is an acronym for The Onion Router, is a software that is used to create complete browsing anonymity when surfing the web and it works by re-routing internet traffic through a worldwide network of anonymous servers.
The Silk Road is just one of the many different websites than can be accessed through Tor but it certainly is the darkest. The site is used by criminals around the globe for drug trafficking, child pornography, purchasing firearms and ‘guns for hire’ or contract killers. It has been described on several occasions as the online black market.
This past week, the Silk Road has been seized by US Federal Agents and the alleged owner of the site, Ross Ulbricht has been arrested. In addition, over $4 million, in the online currency the Bitcoin, has been confiscated.
Ulbricht was arrested by F.B.I agents on Tuesday in a public library in San Francisco. Using the handle Dread Pirate Roberts, Ulbricht facilitated numerous drug deals and was suspected of money laundering. The site generated approximately $1.2 billion yearly. From this total, the alleged mastermind of the website charged up to 15% percent per transaction as pure profit.
In addition, documents have been revealed implicating the Dread Pirate in hiring a hit-man. He had been bargaining to have a man from Canada assassinated for $80,000 in order to protect many users of the Silk Road from being exposed. Authorities in Canada have not heard about any crimes of this nature and therefore many believe these charges will not stick.
Though many celebrate that such an atrocious website has been shut down, many worry about what this could mean for the future.
The reasons people use the Silk Road range from occasional drug use to the uninsured buying prescription medication. Although the site was illegal to say the least, it had a solid and self-regulated financial system in place and ensured, to a certain extent, that both the buyer and the user were protected.
An anonymous user commented, “This site kept people like me from having to go into dangerous sketchy places and risk possible robbery or death, which happened to my best friend/brother who was shot and killed in an alley like a dog. Silk Road was a safe haven. It took away all the “bad” and sketchy from deals.”
In addition, many more users have commented that this is not the only site of this nature, there are many more and in all likelihood the only thing that shutting down the Silk Road will do is give the other sites pointers on what not to do.