DHS Subpoenas Reddit For User Information

Giuseppe Macri Tech Editor
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The Baltimore field office of the Department of Homeland Security has subpoenaed Reddit for information on users of the site’s “dark net markets” forum, where users discuss places to purchase drugs online — including the recently disappeared market “Evolution.”

Evolution — which peaked at 34,000 drug listings during its year of business dealing narcotics, weapons and stolen financials — disappeared from the dark web earlier this month along with aliased administrators Verto, Kimble and $12 million in bitcoin from the site’s users.

Now DHS is looking into the case by requesting data including IP addresses, site logs, phone numbers and financials on five users known to have discussed Evolution on Reddit’s r/darknetmarkets subreddit, Wired reports.

One of those users, NSWGreat, claimed to be an Evolution staffer and even held a Reddit “ask me anything” open Q&A on the site about online drug trafficking and his experience as a public relations representative for Evolution.

Three of the other users claimed to have discovered details about Evolution administrators, and the fourth — Gwern Branwen — is a security researcher who serves as a moderator for r/darknetmarkets. One of the other three users told Branwen on Reddit they would send him information uncovered on the administrators, though Branwen said he never received such information.

“Just one naked connection revealing [NSWGreat’s] home IP would be enough, and if he’s like past market employees, a raid will turn up all the damning evidence one could hope for,” Branwen told Wired. “How can I continue as a [Reddit] moderator knowing that all my non-[encrypted] communications have been laid bare, there may be followup subpoenas for my Gmail account, and I may be under further investigation myself?”

Though Reddit has not stated whether or not it will comply with the subpoena, the company’s privacy policy states it does keep users’ IP addresses for 90 days, and that it may keep the information longer or disclose it to authorities if legally compelled to do so.

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