It was only just a short time ago that the forces of the FBI landed on Silk Road and shut down the underground marketplace. Despite the fact that this not only closed down the site, but as Rich Tehrani also notes, had a hand in dropping the value of Bitcoins, new reports have emerged suggesting that Silk Road isn't so much shut down as it is switching over to a new version. That's right; reports indicate that “SilkRoad v2.0 (is) ready to launch and is now in its final testing stages.”
The reports further indicate that the new Silk Road will have all the features of the original, as well as the same style of forum so as to not make the transition too difficult on anyone. Former vendors will get anonymous invites back to the new forum, and then the general public—at least that general public sufficiently familiar with Tor—will be able to get back in soon enough. Further reports suggest that Silk Road may not be alone, with as many as five similar projects having announced plans to go up.
So what separates the new Silk Road from its predecessor? Security, according to the current reports—particularly the development of a new system known as BitWasp. BitWasp serves as a kind of “Bitcoin marketplace” intended to be used by .onion websites or the like, particularly in concert with Tor and I2P systems.
This is where things get particularly interesting, especially in terms of Silk Road—not to mention its potential competitors in the field—and its interaction with law enforcement. The fact that a new Silk Road is just about ready for launch in less than two weeks after its previous shutdown is telling. But further telling is that it took several months, by some reports, to get the investigation together that took down Silk Road. Just from a time comparison—leaving aside the resource considerations—it's taking a lot more to stop Silk Road, and Silk Road-analogues, than it's taking to put up said sites. That's not a recipe for long-term success in the field. Granted, given the resources of the federal government as a whole--its pocket change could break most any regular American's bank--but given all the discrepancies together, the Silk Roads may well outlast the government.
Still, it's clear that neither side is planning to give up on this; the Silk Roads are looking for a place to buy and sell whatsoever is desired, and the government is looking to prevent many of these sales. Who will ultimately come out on top is a matter only time will tell, but with no one backing down, this particular battle isn't likely to see a winner soon.
Edited by Alisen Downey