In 2011, after the controversial black market website Silk Road was exposed for its role in helping to sell illicit items by way of a type of currency called bit coins, New York Senator Chuck Shumer spoke out about the dangerous site and declared that federal law enforcement must be put to task finding the person or people behind the site and shutting it down before dangerous practices continued.
Some two years later, Silk Road was in fact seized by the FBI. While the infamous website may in fact have been effectively shut down, it seems that the government was off target in its belief that the illicit trade of drugs, weapons, and other illegal items online would stop with Silk Road.
Recently, Senator Shumer implored law enforcement to continue their fight against black market sales by cracking down on the seemingly constant up cropping of sites similar to Silk Road.
Shumer Penned and Open Letter
Shumer spoke out about the importance of shutting down black market sites by way of an open letter, in which he made the case to Attorney General that attempts by the Justice Department should still be made to find and crack down on drug dealers who use the anonymous internet as a kind of market place.
Many who read the letter agreed that it was difficult to overestimate the problem of illicit drug sales on the internet, after considering the study that Shumer had posted, which reported that there were as many as 40,000 listings on the hidden internet for drug sales: almost double the number that was reported a mere year earlier.Vendors who are looking to sell illegal drugs online are often able to hide their postings by using software like I2P.
Shumer spoke about the situation saying "Over the last several years, we have seen a treacherous and rapidly growing avenue develop for criminals to carry out illicit activities," and that the internet has "helped to facilitate an illegal market for dangerous narcotics including prescription drugs, cocaine, and even heroin. The 'dark web' has assisted in shielding these criminals from law enforcement."
Policy Change In Terms of Dark Web Transactions May Be Forthcoming
As sites that make dangerous drugs available continue to flourish, many other politicians and members of the judicial system are likely to intensify efforts to crack down on hidden sites and the web of illegal activity that may very well be comprising most of the internet.
The growth of illegal internet activity may be harmful for more ways than just the obvious increased availability of harmful and possibly fatal drugs to people who may certainly include minors. Many familiar with the dark internet have reported that copy cat sites that have sprung up in the math of the Silk Road sting may be facilitating even more dangerous crimes than Silk Road itself.
While Silk Road did provide marketplace where vendors could sell dangerous drugs, it claimed to place serious restrictions designed to limit transactions to "victimless crimes," (a phrase that many addiction health experts take some issue with.
Regulating Black Market Sites May Mean Regulating Software
It seems clear that the software that allows for certain sites to maintain anonymity is a key part of what makes many dark net sites successful. Legislation to thwart black market sales seems like it will inevitably be tied to limiting the use of software that hides certain sites.
While some officials say this is a good tactic in catching criminals, some internet users worry that restrictions of software us may constitute violations of privacy, which has been a controversial topic for some time.