A year to the day after it opened, Silk Road 2 has been seized and San Francisco man Lake Benthall, alleged to be owner administrator “Defcon,” arrested.

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 6.11.55 am

Yesterday, Silk Road member and administrator of The Hub forums, “Alfred” posted a warning to Silk Road users:

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What Me and DoctorX did Next

Posted: October 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

My latest mainstream piece is a feature in The Age profiling Silk Road’s much-respected DoctorX. The only SR user, as far as I can remember, to be quoted by Dread Pirate Roberts in his sig, with the memorable: ‘All drugs are absolutely harmless. If you leave cocaine, MDMA, meth or DMT on a table, they won’t try to assault you, rape you or hit your balls.’

Online version

Online version

 The print version of my article poses the question “Should legitimate medical doctors be giving advice on how to take illegal drugs safely?”

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After last night’s 60 Minutes, any parent could be forgiven for barging into their teen’s bedroom and confiscating their computer, terrified that their offspring is accessing the 90% of the hidden internet filled with hitmen, weapons and drugs. Teens everywhere are doing it apparently.

Image: "Dark Web" http://pisceanval.deviantart.com

Image: “Dark Web” http://pisceanval.deviantart.com

The 60 Minutes report is available here: 60 Minutes report on The Dark Web from video.au.msn.com

Whilst parents need to be vigilant in protecting their children, this sort of scare-mongering does nothing to advance the drug debate. Parents would do better educating their kids and being aware of where the true dangers lie in illicit drug-taking: adulterated substances being sold as something else, dodgy clones of well-researched drugs, misinformation about the effects of different types of drugs and potential violence in a drug deal.

Here is an analysis of what I believe the 60 Minutes piece either got wrong, misrepresented or exaggerated: Read the rest of this entry »

For the first time since its original incarnation’s launch in January 2011, Silk Road has been knocked off as the dark market’s leader. It now comes in third.

According to Vault 43, Evolution has 15,851 listings, Agora 15,522 and Silk Road a mere 11,025 listings.

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“While our staff is the largest and most experienced in the darknet, we understand that marketplace diversity is a very good thing for our community,” says current leader of Silk Road, Defcon. “We already have a massive target on our foreheads from international press coverage. We welcome competitors.”

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One of the members of Onionland recently created a searchable version of the original Silk Road forums.  As you do, I went on a little trip down memory lane.

The darkweb Hydra effect.  Image: thedeathmonkee.deviantart.com

The darkweb Hydra effect. Image: thedeathmonkee.deviantart.com

In August 2012 in response to the thread ‘Think Silk Road will be around for a while’ I wrote:

I think that no matter what happens to Silk Road, it will go down in history as a turning point for a rethink of drug policy in the western world.  Now that it has been proven to be such a viable business model, even if it is somehow shut down, clones will pop up in its place within weeks.

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Whilst headlines and fund-raising efforts have been concentrated on Ross Ulbricht, accused of being Silk Road mastermind Dread Pirate Roberts, three other men have been stuck in limbo awaiting their fate outside of the limelight. But the three have been spending that time very differently indeed.

In December last year, three arrests were made concurrently in three different countries under the same indictment. Andrew Jones, USA, was accused of being Silk Road administrator “Inigo”; Gary Davis, Ireland, of being administrator “Libertas”; and Peter Nash, Australia, of being Silk Road forum moderator “Samesamebutdifferent” (SSBD).

Of the three co-accused, one has been in prison the whole time. One is under house arrest. One is basically a free man. But their fates seem to have little to do with the roles they allegedly played in the drugs marketplace.

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‘This could be it. This could be the killer application for bitcoin’ – Free Talk Live host, March 2011

Old School Silk Road... it came a long way

Old School Silk Road… it came a long way

Whilst researching the early days of Silk Road for my book, I came across a wonderful little piece of history: a radio show by Free Talk Live which ran a comprehensive piece on Silk Road on 17 March 2011 – around six weeks after Silk Road had launched and a good two-and-a-half months before Adrian Chen’s Gawker article. At the time, Silk Road had 151 registered users, 38 listings and 28 transactions to date. By the time it was shuttered in October 2013, it had just shy of a million registered users.

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