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Black market site Silk Road back online one month after FBI bust

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The black market site Silk Road relaunched Wednesday morning, just over a month after the FBI shut it down and arrested its alleged founder, Ross Ulbricht.

Ulbricht is better known as the Dread Pirate Roberts.

The notorious site functioned as a version of Amazon.com for illegal drugs before being shut down by the FBI in early October. Some $3.6 million in virtual currency Bitcoin from escrow accounts held within the site was seized.

“You can never kill the idea of Silk Road,” the new Dread Pirate Roberts tweeted just before the new site’s launch. The technology for the hidden, encrypted website also cannot be so easily quashed by federal authorities.

The tongue-in-cheek reboot even kept the FBI’s chosen background for the new site’s login page. After seizing Silk Road part one, the FBI put up a page reading “This hidden site has been seized.” Silk Road 2.0 features a login page with “seized” struck out and replaced with “risen again.”

The new, improved version of the drug and contraband site is still hidden by the online anonymity technology Tor and will continue to sell products only through the virtual currency Bitcoin, which though traceable, can separate customers’ personal identities from their online profiles.

Silk Road 2.0 added more protections for its customers after many lost their Bitcoin stashes stored in escrow accounts on the site and many feared prosecution themselves. An optional security feature allows users to doubly protect their log-in information with a PGP key, a popular encryption tool.

The site was supposed to launch Nov. 5 at 4:20 p.m., a symbolic moment for the site’s many anarchist and libertarian customers, but was delayed several hours until Wednesday morning.

The full site has not yet launched. According to Forbes, Silk Road 2.0’s administrators are waiting to determine the amount of traffic before orders begin to be accepted later this week.

Two alternative sites, Atlantis and Project Black Flag, disappeared in the weeks after Ulbricht’s arrest and the owners of both projects both seized the Bitcoin stashes of their customers. But the threat of government intervention has not kept the illicit entrepreneurs from rebuilding their market.

Democratic Delaware Sen. Tom Carper, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said in a statement that he was unsurprised at the quick turnaround time.

The new site “underscores the inescapable reality that technology is dynamic and ever-evolving and that government policy needs to adapt accordingly,” Carper said.

The senator called for “thoughtful, nimble and sensible federal policies to protect the public without stifling innovation and economic growth.”

The Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing next week on Bitcoin and potential regulations.

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