The Unstoppable Evolution of the Dark Net

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PillsWired reports that the shutdown of Silk Road 2 was shut down by FBI’s and Europol’s Operation Onymous, earlier this month, scattered the Dark Web’s drug dealers. But one new and improved crypto market is welcoming and profiting from those refugees: an appropriately named website called Evolution.

Evolution, a Tor hidden service only accessible using Tor (like Silk Road and most online drug marketplaces), has more than tripled its rate of growth in new product listings, according to data collected by the non-profit Digital Citizens Alliance, since the demise of Silk Road 2. That’s helped the eBay-style contraband bazaar’s drug offerings to grow more than 50 percent since September. Combined with the other products Evolution sells – a mix of counterfeit documents, weapons, and stolen credit card numbers – it’s now the biggest black market on the Dark Web. It has around 22,000 product listings in total, far more than either Silk Road 2 or the original Silk Road ever offered.

In addition to drugs, counterfeits, and guns, Evolution also sells stolen credit cards, a kind of crime never allowed on the Silk Road. Digital Citizens Alliance’s research director Dan Palumbo says:

“Evolution is the anti-Silk Road. Rather than being centered around a libertarian ideal, it’s just a business.”

That was, of course, easy to predict. It should be obvious that if enough people want to buy something, there will be providers. Crackdowns and seizures don’t eliminate online drug markets, but only push them deeper underground under the control of criminals. If the more “principled” providers are eliminated, the field will be left wide open to the less principled ones. The surviving crypto markets will be run not by idealists, but by real criminals who know how to run watertight operations, and sell not only drugs but all sorts of really dangerous things.

Also read: The Streets Are Less Safe Without Online Drug Markets

Therapeutic Drugs are Available at Huge Discount on the Dark Net

In related news, a story published by Yahoo News in August is trending on Reddit today. Americans who do not have medical insurance, or who want to buy medications which have not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are heading to the Dark Net, where therapeutic drugs are available at huge discount.

Doctors warn that drugs purchased over the internet may not have undergone safety checks, and bootleg medication can be fatal. On the other hand, some of the reputable Dark Net operators gets the cancer drugs he sells from the same suppliers as international pharmaceuticals companies, and sell them much cheaper then the official prices in countries where drugs costs are swollen by a monopoly of powerful drugs firms. Besides the lower prices, the Dark Net offers therapeutic drugs that are just not available in the U.S. until approval by the FDA, which may take years, too long for patients whose life expectations without experimental drugs is measured in months. The customer feedback, review and reputation system of the online marketplace helps consumers to discriminate between honest vendors and peddlers of counterfeit products.

I don’t condemn victimless crimes and recreational drugs, and I most certainly don’t condemn desperate terminal patients who want to experiment with untested drugs (and isn’t it their life to gamble with?), so I think we must protect the principled, libertarian Dark Nets.

What do you think of the Dark Nets after the Silk Road 2 shutdown? What do you think of terminal patients trying to buy life-saving drugs on the Dark Net? Comment below!

Images from Shutterstock.

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