Silk Road, the former underground online marketplace for all things nefarious and anonymous, has apparently relaunched. Just weeks after the site’s alleged owner Ross Ulbricht was arrested in San Francisco and $28 million in bitcoins belonging to him seized, Silk Road has found a new home, although it's already reportedly crashed due to high volume.
According to Vice, the new site’s owner, who is currently going by “Dread Pirate Roberts,” the online alias once used by Ulbricht, offered the publication a sneak peek ahead of its official launch on Wednesday.
Vice reporter Joseph Cox noted that the website’s design was left mostly unchanged. “As far as I can see, the layout is very similar to the previous version's, allowing users to navigate through lists and subsections of a bunch of stuff you'd be unlikely to find anyone selling on the high street,” Cox wrote. “Currently, the majority of listings are drugs and drug paraphernalia, but we can assume that other illegal products and services will be listed once the site is live and vendors know it can be trusted.”
Before Silk Road’s shutdown last month, the website offered users an ostensibly anonymous place to buy drugs. According to a comparison by ThePriceGeek of drug prices on the site and on the streets, Silk Road offered buyers cocaine at a substantially cheaper price, but its most popular drug was marijuana.
Although the new website maintains consistency with several past features, including the privacy tool Tor, which was designed to prevent users from being tracked by government agencies or corporations, and the pseudo-anonymous currency Bitcoin, it’s also spruced up and added a few features.
The site has a new login page that mocks the notice the Department of Justice placed on its old home page. But as Forbes notes, the most important change is the addition of a security feature that enables users to further authenticate transactions with a private PGP encryption key.
Many former Silk Road users seem wary about entering the new site. “I for one do not trust the new [Silk Road],” one user wrote in the new site’s forum, according to Forbes. “I just get an eerie feeling from the whole idea of it, right now i will steer clear…only time will tell, i want to dive head first into it, but i want to see it play out for a little bit before i slap down another 500 bucks, an investment i made the day before [Silk Road] was closed.”
But others reportedly took comfort from the fact that former moderators familiar to the Silk Road community were directing the new site’s operations.
“Silk Road 2.0 will be reborn better, much much more secure as testament to the tenacity and determination of this wonderful community of ours,” a moderator named “Synergy” wrote. “We will not be down trodden, we will rise again.”