The arrest of alleged Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht in October 2013 was claimed as by law enforcement agencies as a victory against those using the so-called hidden or “deep” part of the internet to engage in criminal activity; from the sale of illegal drugs or arms to child pornography and money laundering. But has his arrest have any effect? And how difficult is it to access this part of the Internet? Al Jazeera technology editor Tarek Bazley takes a look.
Publicity around the arrests and shutdowns also appeared to have increased public interests, in particular in the illegal goods and services on offer.
“Participants who are in the black markets learn from what law enforcement is doing and change their tactics, adapt their tactics,” said Lillian Ablon, a cyber-security researcher at RAND Corporation. “People who are not in the markets are now aware of the low-risk, high-gain of getting into these markets or the products that they could buy.”
The online markets also appeared to be moving their activity to more obscure parts of the internet. One report suggests a new version of the Silk Road website is now running on a network called I-2-P, an even deeper, darker part of the network. It’s stated to be much harder to reach – a new challenge law enforcement agencies are no-doubt already tackling.
“Illicit markets will maintain just as they have existed forever,” said Anupam Chander, a professor of law at the University of California, Davis and author of the book The Electronic Silk Road.. “New thieves will always come up, new people will be trying to take advantage of the money to be made.”
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