If there's one thing cops don't like, it's being disrespected. So when some renegade launches a clone of Silk Road, the underground drug marketplace that authorities recently shut down, they're just begging to get arrested. They even made the homepage a spoof of an FBI-seized domain. That's disrespectful!
A website identical to the Silk Road just went live in the Tor Universe. (The URL is silkroad6ownowfk.onion, though we has trouble accessing the site at first.) It looks just like the Silk Road. It sells drugs just like the Silk Road. The administrator is even calling himself Dread Pirate Roberts, the same handle that alleged Silk Road kingpin Ross Ulbricht used. The only discernible difference between the two sites is the addition of PGP encryption in the new iteration of the Silk Road. PGP stands for "Pretty Good Privacy" and the name says it all. It's pretty good -- but not totally uncrackable.
So you see, it's not just the fact that someone has launched a Silk Road clone. It's the fact that they're waving it in front of authorities like a playground bully dangling stolen lunch money in front of the teacher's face. The new Dread Pirate Roberts gloats in a welcome message:
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.
Well, here's the thing, Dread Pirate Roberts the Sequel: the FBI can definitely arrest you. They can throw you in jail for many years and take away the many millions of dollars you might earn from your illicit venture. Let's just circle back to the state of your spirit, ideas and passion after that whole experience.
It's worth pointing out that Silk Road's competitors didn't quite flourish when the site was shuttered -- though their founders evidently did. Owners of the popular drug-selling site Atlantis shut down for "security reasons", apparently skipping town with all the users' Bitcoin. Project Black Flag followed suit, also stealing all of the Bitcoin that users had uploaded to its servers. Turns out closing your underground drug market is a pretty profitable enterprise!
So between the threat of getting arrested and the chance to abscond with thousands of dollars worth of virtual currency, it's hard to tell if the Silk Road resurrection is a bad idea or a really bad idea. Just remember, though, the original Silk Road led to such shenanigans as hits being put out on users and the founder stashing away tens of millions of dollars. Let's also not forget that users are being arrested now too. [Forbes]