Size Estimates of SR’s size have been done several ways: most purchases entail a review at the end, and reviews are displayed on the front page, so one can monitor the front page and extrapolate to estimate average number of transactions per day or week, and from there estimate turnover paid Books: Incentivizing Reading with Bitcoin what SR’s commissions total to: eg. Cypherpunks Neither Bitcoin nor the Silk Road should be understood outside their ideological and historical context: the now-obscure cypherpunk movement. The cypherpunk group was a loose affiliation of cryptographic researchers and enthusiasts centered on the eponymous email list in the 1980s and 1990s who developed many novel ideas and approaches to communication, economics, and politics.
The ideal cypherpunk system is self-enforcing, self-regulating, and cannot be attacked directly by outsiders because they do not know where it is or how to affect it. The new world of the internet, abstracted from the old world of brute atoms, longed for independence. The state, like an army around an oil well, or a customs agent extracting bribes at the border, would soon learn to leverage its control of physical space to gain control over our platonic realm. Our one hope against total domination. A hope that with courage, insight and solidarity we could use to resist. A strange property of the physical universe that we live in. It is easier to encrypt information than it is to decrypt it.
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We saw we could use this strange property to create the laws of a new world. This fear of centralization is not idle. One solution is to centralize transactions: if you overdraw your bank account with 2 checks, the bank will choose one to bounce and one to honor. 2 conflicting transactions is the real transaction?
The underappreciated genius of Bitcoin is that it says that the valid transaction is simply the one which had the most computing power invested in producing it. Hence, Bitcoin is an acceptable cypherpunk currency: it is decentralized, parties participate out of self-interest, and it is economically infeasible to attack Bitcoin directly. Each point corresponds to an average over the prior thirty days. This makes SR a relatively trustworthy agent because too much abuse will cause buyers or sellers to leave and cease paying the percentage, especially if there are any competing marketplaces.
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And as far as people outside the marketplace are concerned, there is a network effect at play: the better incentives align, the more buyer and sellers there will be, and they will lead to better selections and lower prices. All familiar economic results about normal thick commodity markets, but perhaps unexpected to see in such an exotic marketplace. Escrow One aspect of the incentives deserves coverage as most presciently discussed by the cypherpunks and underappreciated by users: the use of escrow. Bob will fail to complete his end of the bargain. If the transaction is truly anonymous, over computer lines, then of course Bob just hangs up his modem and the connection is broken.
She is also untraceable, but has established a digitally-signed presence and a good reputation for fairness. Her business is in being an escrow agent, like a bonding agency, not in burning either party. The math of this is interesting: as long as the profits to be gained from any small set of transactions is less than her reputation capital, it is in her interest to forego the profits from burning and be honest. Esther is SR, on-line clearing is bitcoins, Alice is a buyer and Bob the seller, but otherwise the logic is clear and unmistakable: lack of escrow leads to a perverse incentive for Bob to scam Alice. We can see the proof in practice.
It sells insurance and financial products, says Carnegie Mellon computer engineering professor Nicolas Christin. It doesn’t really matter whether you’re selling T-shirts or cocaine. The business model is to commoditize security. Beyond the basic cryptographic tools and features of the site itself, SR embodies the cypherpunk dream of letting free-market forces operate to inform buyers and let them find sellers with whom they can reach mutually acceptable agreements. But one wonders: what is using it like? Does it have a decent selection?
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Shouldn’t we keep quiet about it like Fight Club? Quality The purity and safety of SR wares, while varying considerably from seller to seller, batch to batch, and drug to drug, seems to have generally been high. Since November of 2011, law enforcement agents participating in this investigation have made over 70 individual purchases of controlled substances from various vendors on the Silk Road Underground Website. The substances purchased have been various Schedule I and II drugs, including ecstasy, cocaine, heroin, LSD, and others.
50 orders, All but 1-2 shipped the advertised drug. Subsequent DNMs likewise appear to have high purities on average. For example, the Spanish drug testing service Energy Control found as of March 2015 that Users are asked about the type of substance they believe they have purchased. Q: How much of the drugs that enter the country are actually seized by police? There was one conversation I had with a chap who had access to the Serious Organised Crime Agency who said that if people knew how easy it was, then more people would do it. Arrests Due to length, this section has been split out as a separate page. Recently, I gained access to an internal confidential report distributed to several Australia LE agencies and a few international anti-narcotic bodies regarding possible methods of combating illegal activities involving BC.
PGP is terrifying them, every new user who learns it and helps others learn, closes a possible loophole they were planning to exploit. Narcotic trade historically involves exploitation and violence. Users working together as a community for a greater good and towards the same goals has made all previous interdiction training basically obsolete. In other words, every user who helps newcomers learn how to be safe and secure especially through the use of PGP for all transactions and communication is a nail in LEO’s coffin. A total lack of violence and exploitation is very much working in our favor.
So in other words, the idea of a community working together to protect the new and vulnerable has been identified as a huge obstacle for any kind of serious attempt to stop SR. Their morale regarding fighting SR and BC is very low at the moment, mainly because very few LEO have the capacity to comprehend how the whole system works, but unfortunately, recent media coverage demands some kind of action, so they are going to have to show the public they are doing something to combat SR, they just aren’t sure what yet. 9 hacks of Bitcoin currency exchanges. 500 of orders at any time, since you can build up a reputation, and then when you decide to burn the account, you can solicit orders for weeks due to shipping delays, and then delay the resolution even longer.
This is a certain double-bind and unfairness in such criticism. Would such critics be congratulating me if this article turned out to help Bitcoin by discussing and documenting a demand driver and important test-case? Their argument is unfalsifiable and based more on their prejudices than hard data. To such people, my general reply is: what makes you think I want Bitcoin to succeed? It’s interesting but that doesn’t mean I have drank the Kool-Aid. If SR coverage hurt Bitcoin, I may not care. And I would argue the contrary: I believe SR coverage helps Bitcoin.
SR’s admin has stated his satisfaction with the new status quo on the SR forums and on Gawker, and said later that Silk Road was never meant to be private and exclusive. Not that the SR admin ever sought secrecy – he announced SR’s official opening on the Bitcoin forums! Purchases of Bitcoin noticeably spiked after the Gawker article as already mentioned, and one cannot buy that much publicity. One might say of self-censorship that C’est pire qu’un crime, c’est une faute. I would publish anyway because that would mean that the Bitcoin experiment has failed and must be terminated immediately. Preparations But besides all that, how well does it work? No way to know but to go.
So, let’s take a brazen stroll down the SR. But as any kidnapper knows, you can communicate your demands easily enough, but how do you drop off the victim and grab the suitcase of cash without being nabbed? This has been a severe security problem forever. And bitcoins go a long way towards resolving it. So the additional security from use of Bitcoin is nontrivial. As it happened, I already had some bitcoins.
Typically, one buys bitcoins on an exchange like Mt. Newbies to Tor might wonder why the gibberish address. Usually waiting a minute is enough, and longer downtimes are discussed on the SR forums. Invitations are not currently required, although to register a seller account is neither easy nor cheap, see later sections. They don’t get mentioned much in the usual coverage, but SR has aspirations of being a marketplace for more than just drugs. One British user told AP he first got interested in SR while he was working in China, where he used the site to order banned books.
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After moving to Japan, he turned to the site for an occasional high. Apparently no – they seem to be genuine little bits of Americana, without any LSD in them, when I looked at one item more closely. The art doesn’t appeal to me, and it seems like a risky kind of art to collect, but it takes all sorts. They were put there over a year ago for musicians to find as they are a very practical musical tool. SR public listings are illegal goods. Anonymity Well, you’ve browsed through the SR proper.
You can also visit the official SR forums at dkn255hz262ypmii. The discussions are indispensable tools for learning about sellers and getting the latest rumors like indicators of FE scams, but the forums are also where official rule changes to SR are announced by the SR administrator. It’s time to take the plunge and buy something. Bitcoin developer Jeff Garzik is quoted in the Gawker article as saying that Attempting major illicit transactions with bitcoin, given existing statistical analysis techniques deployed in the field by law enforcement, is pretty damned dumb. My own method was to route 4 bitcoins through Mt.
How do we do a deposit? 10,000 accounts, and while many transactions had been entered into, the reviews and closures of transactions had only started. Now, I could be a chump and put down my friend’s address in the clear. But what if SR itself is compromised? I copy the public key into a text file named key. I tell GPG to memorize it: gpg –import key. I write down her address in a file, address.
We need –armor to get an ASCII text encrypted file which we can copy-and-paste into the shopping cart’s address form, rather than a smaller file of binary gibberish. Once you have submitted the order, the ball is in the seller’s court. It’s worth noting that the buyers bear the real risk on SR. A seller can easily anonymize themselves and send packages without difficulty: simply drive out of town to an obscure post office and mail it, leaving behind fuzzy surveillance recordings, if even that18. I check in 1 day later: the order still processing. Items apparently aren’t public once you’ve escrowed your dosh. My Bitcoins are unlocked, of course, but I’m not keen on ordering again right away.
Need to browse more and look for deals. I speculate the seller decided he didn’t want to send outside the EU despite his listing claiming he would – perhaps shipping cost more than he had factored into his price. Try, try again After some more browsing, I decide to go with either the cheapest Adderall or the new modafinil posting, which mentioned being Provigil. Adderall seller has put up his public key, and the modafinil seller clarifies it’s Indian – but it doesn’t matter since the item’s page has disappeared, indicating someone bought it already.
Naturally, I reply and then delete all messages. Evaluating and reviewing 3rd day: still in transit. I go over immediately, and it’s this harmless-looking little padded mailer. 4 of the pills are left after I tested the first one overnight. I leave the seller a nice review.
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I did not need to think hard about the process. This table of blotter listings SR search results for LSD. Note that the table is now entirely obsolete, but I believe the overall appearance is representative of the SR LSD marketplace. So for comparison, the top Dutch blotter was 58. A factor of 3 seems pretty reasonable, given the very large markups along the LSD supply-chain. I’ve seen many complaints about a lack of US sellers but it seems the market is responding. 3 have plenty of bad feedback on the forums.
And of course, the 3 youngest sellers have no feedback at all. In this case, it’s a single order, so one-short ordering it is. Multiply that by the reward, sort to find the largest EV, and we’re done. An objection: Are you seriously saying that a seller with 1 bad review out of 100 is equally trustworthy as a seller with 3 bad reviews out of 300, and that both of them are less trustworthy than a vendor with 0 bad reviews out of 10?
Suppose we pretended reviews were like polling or surveys which are drawing votes from a population with an unknown number of bad apples. We could call it a draw from a binomial distribution. We’re not interested in the optimistic question of how good could these sellers turn out to be? Question: what if we use a Bayesian Jeffreys interval?
If Bayesian and frequentist methods differed much, one would be wrong and no one would use it! This demonstrates, incidentally, that feedback ratings don’t start yielding very high assurance until a surprisingly large number of reviews have been made. But we must be more subjective with the other factors. 1, which deletes nipplesuckcanuck for being too new.
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6 since both have feedback threads. I bought the 2-dose item since I couldn’t afford the 5-dose one. It would’ve been useful but I wasn’t sure I wanted to sink in that much money, 2 doses should suffice, and it was highly likely that he would sell out before I had converted any more money into Bitcoin – as indeed he did sell out. So instead I paid extra for tracking. Packaging Because it’s just paper imbued with a tiny dose of the chemical, it’s easy to mail LSD around without issue. As such, it can be used as a kind of quality check. Is an Ehrlich test worth buying?
This sounds like a classic Value of Information problem. 40 and has a highly negative review! The fundamental question of a VoI analysis is: how would this information change your actions? I would be too curious, and I would have spent too much to tranquilly chuck it based on one test which I do not trust as compared against a very reputable seller. I would be too curious since I do not plan to order again. Take it for what it is and see whether it convinces you: argument screens off authority. But looking back, I have been lucky: from reading the forums, it’s clear that there are scammers on SR34, and shipments do get lost in the mail or seized or otherwise not delivered.
Things are going really well here. This is not wal-mart, or even amazon. It is the wild west and there are as many crooks as there are honest businessmen and women. Keep your guard up and be safe, even paranoid. On SR, there are lions and tigers and pigs oh my, but: alea iacta est!
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Like Bitcoin, SR may live another few months, or another few years, but will it? Like using SR, there’s no way to know but to go. SR follows recommended design principles in achieving their dream of self-enforcing marketplaces, and then went through a lengthy example of how buyers can rationally order and thereby contribute to the necessary dynamics. The drug market has grown and thrived beyond all expectations, despite an extraordinary – perhaps unprecedented – level of media coverage and transparency of operation. But supposing that SR continues to have an annual turnover of millions of dollars of drugs and other goods? Two striking possibilities come to mind.
Existing carding forums may be a market niche to usurp, as they have had problems with law enforcement infiltration and would benefit from increased security. Murders come in discrete units: someone is either dead or not. Regardless, 2 key pieces of cypherpunk technology are now in place and already enabling remarkable new systems. Both researchers and digital entrepreneurs may benefit from taking a look back at some forgotten pioneers and re-evaluating their proposals in the light of recent successes. Data should be deleted the moment it is not necessary.
Private messages should be automatically deleted after weeks, not months. One good way is to have the site verify that all address submissions and private messages are PGP messages and reject unencrypted messages. It may also be a good idea to require sellers to rotate their PGP key every so often, as a partial way to attain forward secrecy. They would post the new public key signed by the old public key, and then hopefully delete the old secret key.
DNM operators should specify in advance how long they will run the site, at what level of commissions they will cash out, and precommit to shutting down the site or handing it over to a new operator whenever either condition comes to pass. If you must play, decide on three things at the start: the rules of the game, the stakes, and the quitting time. There is nothing a site operator can do directly about this problem, as they cannot know what goes on in the seller’s computer, but they can at least institute a clear death penalty for any seller who reveals a buyer’s address, threatens to reveal it, or claims to reveal it. This does not conflict with the mandatory use of PGP encryption, as if a buyer claims a seller threatened him in a PGP-encrypted message, the site operator can demand the secret key from the buyer – since they’re making the claim, the onus is on them, after all – and decrypt the stored copy of the seller’s message to the buyer. Early Finalization should not be offered as a feature, or if it is, it should be automatically limited only to young buyer accounts or similar situations. A large part of site commissions should be earmarked for hiring penetration testers and security bounties, and de-anonymizing attacks on the site operator. Post on forums that you’re offering a Bitcoin bounty.
Heck, with Bitcoin, you can probably even script up a block which automatically pays – for example, you could announce that you’ve created a dummy user X, with an unknown password Y, which unlocks a bitcoin transaction of 100btc. Anyone who can break into the user database can extract the password Y, and claim the bounty. Backup withdrawal addresses should be implemented. In particular, the withdrawal addresses should be mandatory for users, and beyond that, balances should be flushed at intervals. The fall of SR caused tremendous problems for many users because they had foolishly let balances build up in SR rather than get around to withdrawing them. Policies must be exercised or they are worthless. Source code for the site should be available.
Security through obscurity does not work. If a site operator mentally quails at releasing the source code – good! Sellers who buy from other sellers using a known seller pseudonym are painting a target on their back. A staffer ordering from a seller is a perfect target for a controlled delivery if the seller is an undercover agent or has been or will be flipped.