Since the October takedown of the first Silk Road, the illicit sector of the Tor network has been scrambling to cope with the recent changes in darknet superpowers. Like a child blowing on an anthill, the feds seemed to have whipped the community into a fearful frenzy. Causing even more anxiety is the focused, scorching magnifying glass on a few, as several high-profile members of these communities are facing stiff sentences in recent busts. However, with the rise of the new contraband eBay-like titan, Silk Road –the sequel, it seems as if it’s back to business as usual. Somewhat.
The beauty of the darknet, they say, is the element of opportunistic anonymity. However, that works both ways. The feds can lurk through the Tor network just as easily as every other John Doe, because anonymity is a two-way street.
Silk Road was not the only darknet marketplace for illicit substances, untracked hardware, and unsavory services. Bazaars such as BlackMarket Reloaded and Sheep Marketplace have continued operations, even while the Silk Road endured a royal beating from the highly determined US Justice Department. These communities appear to remain noticeably apprehensive to bring the Silk Road back into the fold, even though it’s ‘upgraded’ to 2.0.
One prevalent reason for this is because the new site, despite Dread Pirate Roberts’ defiant rhetoric and the community’s hysterical buzz, is still having rather crippling technical difficulties. On the Silk Road forum, members have been responding to a recently posted question about ‘quality’ of service: “What’s Been Your Experience Using SR2.0 Thus Far (Functionality-wise)?”
It appears as if the general consensus is: Meh.
According to username ‘IncognitoFish’, there have been some fairly glaring issues with the site’s most basic operations:
“I get a lot of blank pages. It took forever to change prices to USD because it wouldn’t save. And the lack of sub-categories annoys me. Other than that I can’t really tell until it is fully operational and people are making purchases, messaging vendors, and fully utilizing the site. More problems will arise as time progresses.”
Another individual by the name of ‘tagacc’ wrote:
“[S]till can’t select “domestic only”.
as mentioned in another comment, unable to message vendors.
no incognito mode (no images) yet.”
In summary, Silk Road 2.0 isn’t doing so well. However, these are certainly growing pains for a site that is operating at brimming traffic capacity mere days after launch. In addition, even DPR stated in his official press release that the new site had a very comprehensive ‘complete security overhaul’. He also said that there would be ‘minor bugs’. Whether minor or major, the Silk Road is back in operation, as illicit transactions have already apparently been taking place. But, is everything back to business as usual?
Some are having difficulty believing that Silk Road 2.0 is the ‘real deal’. Some from BlackMarket Reloaded seem to have reached their own ‘consensus’ of sorts: ‘sketchy.’ Username: ‘Stephen_A_Sniff’ put it eloquently when he enunciated his distrust in the new site:
“[Y]eah that sounds like sketch city and the surrounding sketch metropolitan area. I would avoid if possible…”
On the Sheep forum [which is a hidden site], username ‘jerry1’ wrote:
“It actually reeks of LE. If you had been a admin on a billion dollar drug website that had been busted from the inside and you had been lucky enough not to get arrested would you be looking to start up a new marketplace within a month? I would have ran as fast as possible and not looked back. I loved the original SR but to me its dead. I hope people think before making any mistakes that could see them in a cell for years.”
Putting it mildly, it appears as if Silk Road 2.0 has to rebuild trust with the community if it ever hopes to rise to the renowned status of its predecessor. With so many on the darknet, who even suspect that Silk Road 2.0 is a grandiose ‘sting’ operation from law enforcement, the sequel has a long road ahead. Pun fully intended.