A market for the sale and purchase of narcotics is flourishing in the depths of the Internet. A study claims that more than 22 million dollars a year are moved through it.
There is a part of the Internet that Google cannot trace. A digital world that is voluntarily kept off the radar. Secret passageways for those who seek anonymity and not to be discovered, whatever their purposes. Political opponents in dictatorial regimes, traders in banned goods, or pedophiles. This darknet links often called the Deep Web, the "deep web".
Actually, "deep web" is the common name for all information that is on the web, but outside public scrutiny. Whether it is private documents from any institution, or online drug markets. Search engines can't access this darknet links, or search them. Sometimes because they can't open the door and enter. Others, because they don't even know where they are. This is the case of Silk Road - "the silk road"-, the largest narcotics market on the Internet.
Silk Road is an online meeting place for buying and selling prohibited items. Its star products are all kinds of illegal drugs. Marijuana, opiates, hallucinogens, benzodiazepines, ecstasy and others. It doesn't matter. Almost anything can be sold on the Silk Road. A researcher at Carnegie Mellon University (Pennsylvania, USA) has studied its operation for six months and has published his findings in arXiv. According to his calculations, the turnover exceeds 22 million dollars a year.
Drugs, anonymity and crypto-anarchism
Unlike most online stores, Silk Road is not easy to get into. Its darknet links changes with some regularity, and does not end in '.com'. Access is via TOR, a technology that makes it almost impossible to know who is connecting to a website, or where it is hosted. Even for the police.
Nicolas Christin, the researcher who studied Silk Road, programmed a system that visited the site daily to collect data. His software automatically recorded and catalogued the new products for sale, the sellers and the buyers' mandatory ratings. He then made a statistical and economic study of the whole phenomenon.
The most frequently offered items are cannabis and its derivatives.
The online narcotics store is designed to guarantee anonymity, both for those who buy and those who sell, and still generate a system of trust between them. Silk Road is the anonymous intermediary between two parties who also do not know who they are. The buyer transfers the money to the "store", which holds it until it confirms that the order has been delivered (by mail). Only then does the transfer of funds to the seller take place. The buying and selling darknet links takes a commission on each transaction.
According to the study, the most sought-after items on Silk Road are cannabis and its derivatives. During the period of the investigation, more than 4,000 doses of marijuana, hashish and others were offered. This represents 20.7 percent of the total. Other "hit" products were prescription drugs (7.3% of the total) and benzodiazepines (tranquilizers such as Valium, which almost reached 5%). Also on offer were books (3.9%), pornography (1.6%), steroids (1.5%), seeds and the other most common drugs - cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, other opiates and various kinds of hallucinogens.
Also legal products? Yes. Silk Road is not only a market for prohibited products. It is also a store for advocates of anonymity and data encryption as a guarantee of individual freedom. It is a store for promoters of crypto-anarchism, an ideology derived from anarcho-capitalism. They advocate the elimination of the state and a society based on individual sovereignty, private property and the free darknet links. An "anonymous" network is part of their plan. Even so, Silk Road does not allow the sale of weapons -they set up another website to do so, The Armory, which never worked-, nor of stolen identity documents, nor of child pornography.
In addition to the use of TOR to avoid tracking connections, Silk Road users use their own currency: bitcoin. An electronic currency that allows anonymous transactions.