On the 6th of November 2014 the FBI and Europol working with other international law enforcement agencies declared that they had succeeded in a joint operation against several hidden services on the Tor Dark Net. The investigation, dubbed ‘Operation Onymous’ saw the successful closure of 267 ‘.onion’ webpages making up 27 separate sites. Law enforcement agencies also made 17 arrests and seizures of $1 million in Bitcoin as well as assorted amounts of cash, drugs, weapons and computers.
If Tor has been compromised (the worst-case scenario for administrators of darknet markets), it does not put an end to darknet markets. OpenBazaar is a decentralized market system that incorporates Tor but operates very differently to the centralized model used by Dark Net markets such as Evolution and Agora. In this model users have total control over their own storefront and are able to buy and sell whatever they want in a peer-to-peer system in which all members are equally-footed as the system’s key components are self-regulated by nodes distributed throughout its users. This would put an end to law enforcement’s ability to shut a whole network down. Although OpenBazaar is currently in its testing phases we can assume that models like this will eventually become the dominant platform for illicit e-commerce in future.
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