Essay on The Underground Online Revolution: Online Black Markets and the Bitcoin

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Picture an innocent looking online marketplace, similar to those in which you shop for discounted books on Amazon or cheap surfboards on eBay, except you have the option to purchase marijuana, acid, fake passports and licenses, hacking services and potentially the ability to “order a hit” on someone, this my friends, is the Silk Road and it does have a captain. He goes by the alias of “Dread Pirate Roberts,” he’s pocketed $80 million in commissions, and he is the operator of one of the most notorious online black markets which accumulated $1.2 billion in total sales with its nearly one million customers. Shortened to DPR, Ross William was the operator of the site Silk Road, until he was eventually arrested at the beginning of October this year, with the fully operational website and assets summing $4 million being seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Being named after the historical network of trades routes that allowed the integration of cultures spanning from Europe to Asia, Silk Road was home to trade of all sorts of contraband by allowing goods and services to be traded illegally, basically operating outside the formal economy. [1][2]
Silk Road was launched in February of 2011, later becoming known as the “ of illegal drugs”, or “the underground website where you can buy any drug imaginable” [1]. A user of Silk Road has the ability to find a dealer specializing in a drug with positive feedback and check out a digital shopping cart, just as if it were any other online shopping site. One user “Bloomingcolor” appeared to be a trusted vendor with a specialty in psychedelic drugs. This sort of reputation-based trading system is found all over legal online marketplaces such as Amazon or eBay. The only accep...

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2. Leger, Donna L.. "How FBI brought down cyber-underworld site Silk Road." USA Today. Gannett, 22 Oct. 2013. Web. 24 Nov. 2013. .
3. Greenberg, Andy. "gree'Silk Road 2.0' Launches, Promising A Resurrected Black Market For The Dark Web." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 6 Nov. 2013. Web. 24 Nov. 2013. .
4. Goodale, Gloria. "Rise of Bitcoin: Is the digital currency a solution or a menace? (+video)." The Christian Science Monitor. The Christian Science Monitor, 23 Nov. 2013. Web. 25 Nov. 2013. .

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