Digital Sovereignty and Direct Action

Darknet Market Histories

The Onion Router, Ross Ulbricht, the Silk Road, and related history.

Drugs online

  • What the Dormouse Said

    “Before Amazon, before eBay, the seminal act of e-commerce was a drug deal.”

  • Narcotics: Just a Click Away?

    It all started when Dan Parsons typed the keywords “buy narcotics” into the MSN search engine. Parsons, vice president of the Better Business Bureau of Metropolitan Houston, was surfing the Web last October when he decided to do a little investigating into whether it was poss…

  • A Seductive Drug Culture Flourishes on the Internet

    Internet has become virtual do-it-yourself guide to drug use at time when adolescents’ experimenting with drugs is on rise; drug messages on Internet come from sources like High Times, magazine that has celebrated marijuana culture for over two decades and has created popular…

  • 1994-04-14 - Soldier of Fortune magazine.

    From: “Gary Jeffers” To:

    Gun control is people control. The War on Drugs is the War on Citizens.

    I would like to suggest that some of our more knowledgeable & eloquent Ccypherpunks such as May, Hughes, Frissell or others consider approaching Soldier of Fortune magazine about a series of articles or a regular column on encryption & privacy. SOF may seem to be a childish publication to some of us but it has a readership many times that of Ccypherpunks & we would not be preaching to the converted (I know there are other purposes to cypherpunks as well).

  • Breaking News, Analysis, Politics, Blogs, News Photos, Video, Tech…
  • Postman pot: Drug users turn to the web

    POT smokers usually grow marijuana in their backyards or buy from their dealer mates. But now for many Australians, it’s their postie delivering them the stuff from overseas.

  • Netflix’s ‘How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast)’s’ Creators on …

    CANNES — Netflix’s “How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast)” kicks off with a police special unit, automatic rifles trained, moving in silently for asking. The target, a buff teen drug dealer, at wo…

Farmers Market


  • The Tor Project - The Tor Project

    Defend yourself against tracking and surveillance. Circumvent censorship.

  • Privacy on the Internet

    The World Wide Web is rapidly becoming an important tool for modern day communication and electronic commerce. But electronic messages sent over the Internet can be easily snooped and tracked, revealing who is talking to whom and what they are talking about. Is privacy important, and how can it be guaranteed? This paper describes how a freely available system, onion routing, can be used to provide privacy for a wide variety of Internet services, including Virtual Private Networks, Web browsing, e-mail, remote login, and electronic cash.

    References 1 The Anonymizer. 2 L. J. Camp, M. Harkavey, B. Yee, J. D. Tygar, Anonymous Atomic Transactions'', Second USENIX Workshop on Electronic Commerce, 1996. 3 D. Chaum. Untraceable Electronic Mail, Return Addresses, and Digital Pseudonyms, Communications of the ACM, v. 24, n. 2, Feb. 1981, pages 84-88. 4 L. Cottrell. Mixmaster and Remailer Attacks, loki/remailer/remailer-essay.html 5 R. Fielding, J. Gettys, J. Mogul, H. Frystyk, T. Berner-Lee. Hypertext Transfer Protocol - HTTP/1.1, 6 M. Franklin and M. Reiter, Fair Exchange with a Semi-Trusted Third Party’’, Fourth ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security, Zurich, April 1997. 7 D. Goldschlag, M. Reed, and P. Syverson. Protocols using Anonymous Connections: Mobile Applications, 1997 Security Protocols Workshop, Paris, France, April 1997. Postscript 8 D. Goldschlag, M. Reed, and P. Syverson. Hiding Routing Information, Information Hiding, R. Anderson (editor), Spring-Verlag LLNCS 1174, 1996, pages 137-150. Postscript 9 C. Gülcü and G. Tsudik. Mixing Email with Babel, 1996 Symposium on Network and Distributed System Security, San Diego, February 1996. 10 Internet Engineering Task Force. 11 M. Reed, P. Syverson, D. Goldschlag. Proxies for Anonymous Routing, 12th Annual Computer Security Applications Conference, San Diego, CA, December, 1996. Postscript 12 P. Syverson, D. Goldschlag, and M. Reed. Anonymous Connections and Onion Routing, Proceedings of the Symposium on Security and Privacy, Oakland, CA, May 1997. Postscript 13 Peter Wayner. Digital Cash: Commerce on the Net, AP Professional, Chestnut Hill, Mass., 1996


    Abstract. This paper describes anarchitecture, Onion Routing, that limits a network’s vulnerability to tracanalysis.The architecture provides anonymous socket connections by means of proxy servers. It provides real-time, bi-directional, anonymous communication for any protocol that can be adapted to use a proxy service. Specifically, the architecture provides for bi-directional communication even though noone but the initiator’s proxy server knows anything but previous and next hops in the communication chain. This implies that neither the respondent nor his proxy server nor any external observer need know the identity of the initiator or his proxy server. A prototype of Onion Routing has been implemented. This prototype works with HTTP (WorldWideWeb) proxies. In addition, ananalogous proxy forTELNET has been imple-mented.ProxiesforFTPandSMTPareunderdevelopment.


    Tor began gaining popularity among activists and tech-savvy users interested in privacy, but it was still difficult for less-technically savvy people to use, so starting in 2005, development of tools beyond just the Tor proxy began. Development of Tor Browser began in 2008. With Tor Browser having made Tor more accessible to everyday internet users and activists, Tor was an instrumental tool during the Arab Spring beginning in late 2010. It not only protected people’s identity online but also allowed them to access critical resources, social media, and websites which were blocked. The need for tools safeguarding against mass surveillance became a mainstream concern thanks to the Snowden revelations in 2013. Not only was Tor instrumental to Snowden’s whistleblowing, but content of the documents also upheld assurances that, at that time, Tor could not be cracked.

  • The Tor Project - The Tor Project

    Defend yourself against tracking and surveillance. Circumvent censorship.

  • The Tor Social Contract - The Tor Social Contract

    At The Tor Project, we make tools that help promote and protect the essential human rights of people everywhere.

  • The Hidden Wiki: Layers of The Onion Router Networks

    The Hidden Wiki: Layers of The Onion Router Networks Someone recently asked if I had ever heard of “The Hidden Wiki” They said they had just perused an ad that purported to offer “hired killer” services. This person immediately thought it was just a joke, but it turns…

  • Trip report, October FBI conference - Trip report, October FBI conference

    In October I attended an FBI conference, as part of my work to try to keep Tor on good relations with law enforcement.

  • - this is an early (2012?) research report analysing the dark web for terrorist activity
  • Who Pays For Tor? (Hint: You Do)

    Thanks to the Silk Road’s notoriety, Tor has quite the sinister reputation. The online black market is famous for facilitating the sale of anything from illegal drugs to murderers for hire. But there’s much more to

  • The Darknet: A Short History

    A look at the Internet’s lurid underbelly – your one-stop shop for weapons, drugs, and illegal pornography.

  • What is the Darknet? - Definition from Techopedia

    Darknet Definition - The darknet refers to networks that are not indexed by search engines

  • The People Who Risk Jail to Maintain the Tor Network

    Some of the volunteers who keep the Tor network running are raided for their services. “Richard” was one of them.

  • A Survey of Anonymous Communication Channels - 2008

    We present an overview of the field of anonymous communications, from its establishment in 1981 from David Chaum to today. Key systems are presented categorized according to their underlying principles: semi-trusted relays, mix systems, remailers, onion routing, and systems to provide robust mixing. We include extended discussions of the threat models and usage models that different schemes provide, and the trade-offs between the security properties offered and the communication characteristics different systems support.


Ross Ulbricht

aka Dread Pirate Roberts (DPR), aka Altoid…

  • Everything we know about Ross Ulbricht, the outdoorsy libertarian …

    Ulbricht’s social media profiles depict a man who lived physics, camping, libertarian politics – and money.

  • Meet The Dread Pirate Roberts, The Man Behind Booming Black Market…

    Increasingly sophisticated anonymity tools have created a bustling online narcotics market and everything that goes with it: turf wars, illegal guns, attacks on competitors–and one philosophyspewing, multimillionaire drug lord: the Dread Pirate Roberts.

  • An Interview With A Digital Drug Lord: The Silk Road’s Dread Pirat…

    Most black market drug lords don’t give interviews. But the Dread Pirate Roberts isn’t most drug lords. His website, the Silk Road, is designed to allow anyone to buy and sell drugs with the crypto-currency Bitcoin, using the anonymity software Tor to protect their identity. …

  • Collected Quotations Of The Dread Pirate Roberts, Founder Of Under…

    In public, the pseudonymous Internet drug czar known as the Dread Pirate Roberts doesn’t say much. Roberts’ website, the illegal, anonymous drug-selling black market known as the Silk Road, has survived only because of its creator’s discretion. On the rare occasions when DPR…

  • How the murder charges against Ross Ulbricht were quietly buried

    The FBI said Ross Ulbrict tried to kill his enemies—so why wasn’t he charged?

  • Ross’s Writings — Free Ross

    Read letters from Ross: “Hi Porcfest, I’m writing you from my cell in New York City. Sorry I couldn’t make it this year. Unfortunately the worst case scenario has played out for me and I’ve been sentenced to spend the rest of my life in prison. I am an eternal optimist …

  • Ross Ulbricht

    Ross William Ulbricht (born March 27, 1984) is a convicted American darknet market operator and narcotics trafficker, best known for creating and running the Silk Road website from 2011 until his arrest in 2013. He was known under the pseudonym “Dread Pirate Roberts,” after t…

  • Did Dread Pirate Roberts Deserve a Life Sentence?

    Silk Road and dark websites like it remove commercial activity from the hands of violent cartels fighting over territory.

  • Eerie diary entries written by the Silk Road founder who just got …

    “I imagine that someday I may have a story written about my life.”

    In one 2010 journal entry, Ulbricht said he thought up the idea for Silk Road (which he originally called “Underground Brokers”) while working as an editor of scientific journals. He decided to get people interested in the site by producing and selling “several kilos of high quality shrooms” that he himself had grown in a lab — a very risky endeavor that he wouldn’t repeat: “I was a hair’s breadth from going to jail before the site even launched for growing shrooms,” he wrote in his journal.

    Ulbricht’s entry said he sold 10 pounds of shrooms over those first few months, handling the transactions by hand. The site soon became so popular, however, that he had to rewrite it to include automatic payment features and tumblers to mask the IP addresses of buyers and sellers, according to the journal entry. He also wrote that he had to create an independent Silk Road server and hire employees to help him handle the site’s explosion in traffic. He admitted in his journal that his relationship with his then girlfriend, Julia, suffered as he tried to keep up with the site’s rather unexpected popularity.

  • Ross Ulbricht’s Murder-for-Hire Charges Dropped by U.S. Attorney

    While the Silk Road founder’s reputation has already been sullied by the untried accusations, the feds give up on those charges after Supreme Court declines to hear Ulbricht’s appeal on his original conviction and sentencing.

  • The founder of Silk Road is dictating tweets from the prison where…

    His family have set up the twitter account @RealRossU, which relays messages Ulbricht dictates from prison. The account has sttracted over 18,000 followers and helped get over 55,000 signatures for a petition asking for clemency for Ulbricht.

    By 2010, Ulbricht had turned away from materials science and academia and announced on LinkedIn that he would be “creating an economic simulation to give people a firsthand experience of what it would be like to live in a world without the systemic use of force,” by which he seemed to mean police and laws. Around the same time, according to federal prosecutors, he was consulting a guidebook called The Construction & Operation of Clandestine Drug Laboratories and had built a DIY “shroomery” at a remote cabin in Texas to grow hallucinogenic fungi that would be the first product he was going to sell through his economic “experiment.”

  • The Rise and Fall of Silk Road, the Dark Web’s Amazon

    Libertarian surfer dude Ross Ulbricht built his cyber drug cartel, Silk Road, on a belief in free markets and Internet privacy. Now he’s in prison for a very long time.

  • Key Moments in the Life of Silk Road Creator Ross Ulbricht

    How a tech-savvy young man from Austin developed the Amazon of the Dark Web.

  • Timeline of the Silk Road Case — Free Ross

    “The Most Important Trial in America : If you care about due process, Fourth Amendment protections against illegal searches, the limits of government surveillance, and Internet freedom, you should pay attention.” – Nick Gillespie, editor-in- chief,


    Ross earned a scholarship to the University of Texas at Dallas and majored in physics. From there he landed a graduate scholarship at Penn State, where he excelled as usual. But he wasn’t happy with the drudgery of lab research. Since college he’d been exploring psychedelics and reading Eastern philosophy. At Penn State, Ross talked openly about switching fields. He posted online about his disenchantment with science—and his new interest in economics.

    He’d come to see taxation and government as a form of coercion, enforced by the state’s monopoly on violence. His thinking was heavily influenced by Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises, a totem of the modern American libertarian orthodoxy. According to von Mises, a citizen must have economic freedom to be politically or morally free. And Ross wanted to be free.

    In the Good Wagon warehouse, Ross oversaw five part-time college students sorting, logging, and organizing the 50,000 books on shelves he built himself. That December was Good Wagon’s best month, clearing 10 grand.

    But by the end of 2010, the new CEO of Good Wagon was looking beyond the book business. During his forays into trading, Ross had discovered bitcoin, the digital cryptocurrency. The value of bitcoin—based only on market factors, unattached to any central bank—aligned with his advancing libertarian philosophy. On his LinkedIn page, Ross wrote that he wanted to “use economic theory as a means to abolish the use of coercion and aggression amongst mankind.”

  • Deep Web (2015) - IMDb

    Directed by Alex Winter. With Nicolas Christin, Cindy Cohn, Joshua L. Dratel, Andy Greenberg. A feature documentary that explores the rise of a new Internet; decentralized, encrypted, dangerous and beyond the law; with particular focus on the FBI capture of the Tor hidden se…

  • Film Review: ‘Deep Web’

    “Deep Web” begins as an illuminating overview of the Internet’s non-indexed digital substratum, then narrows its focus to recount the arrest, prosecution and conviction of Ross Ulbricht, alleged …

  • Here’s the Secret Silk Road Journal From the Laptop of Ross Ulbricht

    As the saga of the Silk Road has unfolded over the last four years, everyone has had an opinion about the unprecedented, billion-dollar online narcotics bazaar, from press to politicians to prosecutors. Even the pseudonymous mastermind of the site, the Dread Pirate Roberts, g…

  • RAILROADED — Never-Before-Seen Information. Over 400 Sources

    RAILROADED is a behind-the-scenes series about Ross Ulbricht’s case. From the creation of Silk Road to the Supreme Court. An eye-opener. Peek into the inner workings and conflicts in the Silk Road story and meet the people involved.

  • Railroaded - Railroaded

    1st episode of a six-part series revealing behind-the-scenes information you’ve never heard before. Peek into the inner workings and conflicts in the Silk Ro…

  • Railroaded - Railroaded

    2nd episode of a six-part series revealing behind-the-scenes information you’ve never heard before. Peek into the inner workings and conflicts in the Silk Ro…

  • Railroaded - Railroaded

    3rd episode of a six-part series revealing behind-the-scenes information you’ve never heard before. Peek into the inner workings and conflicts in the Silk Ro…

  • Railroaded - Railroaded

    4th episode of a six-part series revealing behind-the-scenes information you’ve never heard before. Peek into the inner workings and conflicts in the Silk Ro…

  • Railroaded - Railroaded

    5th episode of a six-part series revealing behind-the-scenes information you’ve never heard before. Peek into the inner workings and conflicts in the Silk Ro…

  • Railroaded - Railroaded

    Last episode of a six-part series revealing behind-the-scenes information you’ve never heard before. Peek into the inner workings and conflicts in the Silk R…

  • Lyn Ulbricht speeches - YouTube
  • Lyn Ulbricht interviews - YouTube
  • Ross Ulbricht (Dread Pirate Roberts) -
  • Bitcoin Equals Freedom By Ross Ulbricht
  • Shroomery Was One of the First Places Silk Road Was Ever Mentioned…
  • All the feds needed to do to ID Silk Road’s founder was Google it It was a simple Web search that

Silk Road

Silk Road 11

  • Silk Road 1: Theory & Practice

    The website Silk Road 1 (SR1), a drug marketplace operating in public, needs little introduction at this point, after Gawker’s 2011 article went viral, drawing fire from the likes of US federal Senators Schumer & Manchin. It was probably the single most famous commercial enterprise using Bitcoins; some speculated that demand from SR patrons single-handedly pushed the exchange rate up by $5 the weekend of the Gawker article. It then flourished until its bust in 2 October 2013.

  • Silk Road: Not Your Father’s

    The e-commerce website Silk Road is being called the Amazon of illegal drugs. Its goods include cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, and marijuana. The products are delivered right through the mail to the front doors of its buyers. The site is not legal, but it is hard to find.

  • Senator Schumer Says Bitcoin Is Money Laundering

    A few months back, we explored Bitcoin, and the growing attention it was receiving. The distributed currency has certainly been getting a lot of attention lately (causing the exchange rate to skyrocket). Of course, as with any such thing, there was…

  • U.S. Senators Want to Shut Down Bitcoins, Currency of Internet Dru…

    Actually, they want to shut down the Internet’s black market drug trade, Silk Road.

  • Everyone Wants Bitcoins After Learning They Can Buy Drugs With Them

    Above is a chart of the exchange rate, in dollars, of the digital currency Bitcoin. That red arrow shows the price on Wednesday afternoon right after we published a story about Silk Road, a Bitcoin-powered online marketplace where you can easily buy illegal drugs. In the past…

  • Is the total of private listings bigger or smaller than public lis…

    Folks: I’m studying All the data they report on in that paper are from scraping the public listings. They don’t…

  • Traveling Down the Silk Road to Buy Drugs With Bitcoins

    There simply must be a more dignified way to procure illegal substances.

    Silk Road cuts down on scams with a reputation-based trading system familiar to anyone who’s used Amazon or eBay. The user Bloomingcolor appears to be an especially trusted vendor, specializing in psychedelics. One happy customer wrote on his profile: “Excellent quality. Packing, and communication. Arrived exactly as described.” They gave the transaction five points out of five.

    “Our community is amazing,” Silk Road’s anonymous administrator, known on forums as “Silk Road,” told us in an e-mail. “They are generally bright, honest and fair people, very understanding, and willing to cooperate with each other.”


    It hasn’t happened yet, however, not even after Sen. Charles Schumer of New York demanded that the DEA take down Silk Road. “Never before has a website so brazenly peddled illegal drugs online,” Schumer announced this past summer. “By cracking down on the website, we can help stop these drugs from flooding our streets.” Problem is, the DEA can’t shut it down; due to the Tor network’s encryption, law enforcement doesn’t even know where to look. “Finding the body behind the servers, that’s the challenge,” admits DEA spokesman Rusty Payne. “Bad guys are certainly innovative and savvy when it comes to technology.” So for now, the deliveries continue.

    This story is from the November 10th, 2011 issue of Rolling Stone


    Look at the seller’s description of the product. If they’re very detailed, then they’re probably more serious. If they give one sentence, they probably don’t care as much.

    Look at the seller’s own page. The address will look something like “http://ianxz6zefk72ulzz.onion/index.php/silkroad/user/1914” (That’s mine. The only difference will be the “1914”, which is the unique number for me. Other sellers will have a different number there). Again, you want detail. They should say a bit about the kinds of products they sell, accepted payments, how to contact them, etc.

    Check if they have a PGP key. If they don’t have a PGP key, don’t buy anything illegal from them. If somehow Silk Road’s servers are seized (which is very unlikely), the authorities will be able to read ALL of the unencrypted information that’s on the site. If you send your information in PGP, the authorities will NEVER be able to read that information unless they beat the passwords out of the seller.

    There are people on Silk Road who are selling things on it that aren’t illegal. Computers, Xboxes, iPods, jewelry, etc. There shouldn’t be a need to use PGP with them.

    Lastly, I realize that you already mentioned it, but look at their reviews. If they have four bad reviews and one brilliant review, then they made a fake account. If they have no reviews, wait for someone else to try it.

    As one of the Silk Road admins put it, “DO NOT get comfortable! This is not wal-mart, or even It is the wild west and there are as many crooks as there are honest businessmen and women.” Just be careful. Use common sense. Silk Road is perfectly safe is you look carefully and really try to find out if the seller is honest.

  • IAMA seller on the illegal anonymous marketplace Silk Road. AMA.

    Look at the seller’s description of the product. If they’re very detailed, then they’re probably more serious. If they give one sentence, they…

  • Black Market Reloaded grew more than 16,000 new registrations in J…

    Black Market Reloaded, the most prominent competitor to Silk Road in the growing world of Tor marketplaces, processed 16,000 new registrations last month, making January its biggest month ever for …

  • The definitive history of Silk Road

    To help balance against Bitcoin’s volatility, Dread Pirate Roberts introduced a “hedged escrow” option buyers and sellers in May 2011. For the rest of Silk Road’s lifespan, bitcoins were converted into U.S. dollars after a purchase, held in an escrow, and then changed back as the transaction was finalized, thus shielding both sides significantly from whatever currency volatility may creep up.

  • BurntBrunch/Silk-Rabbit-Hole
  • Underground Website Lets You Buy Any Drug Imaginable

    Making small talk with your pot dealer sucks. Buying cocaine can get you shot. What if you could buy and sell drugs online like books or light bulbs? Now you can: Welcome to Silk Road.

Silk Road 12

Silk Road 13

Silk Road 14

Silk Road 15

Darknet Markets History

Darkmarkets 12

  • Postman pot: Drug users turn to the web

    POT smokers usually grow marijuana in their backyards or buy from their dealer mates. But now for many Australians, it’s their postie delivering them the stuff from overseas.

Darkmarkets 13

Darkmarkets 14

Darkmarkets 15

Darkmarket 16-17



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