The website in question is called the Silk Road. It’s not interesting because it sells drugs, mind you. It’s interesting because it exists in the Tor deep web. That is to say, the only way to access it is through the Tor proxy service. Tor is very cool: it routes all traffic through multiple randomized proxies. It’s meant to allow folks in, say, China to get around national firewalls and whatnot. Of course, that also makes it good for handling illegal content.
I said it’s interesting partially because nobody can detect who goes there. But the other part is that, by the same token, nobody knows where it is. It’s just as protected as the users are. There’s also a whole different aspect, which is that it uses Bitcoins for currency. Bitcoins are encrypted digital packets that can be passed, untraceably, as currency. The worthwhileness of that is debateable, and I’m uninterested in using them. But it’s a very real step in the march towards the Crypto-anarchy, where encryption in the hands of the public makes it bitching-difficult for government entities to attempt to control information.
And that possibility is very cool.
I’m interested to see how this goes. It may be literally impossible for the government to shut the Silk Road down. We’ll see.