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Friday, April 03, 2015

Feds subpoena Reddit to find identities of users of Darknet market Evolution

4474307703_706117a5b7_nUsers of the now defunct Darknet marketplace Evolution may be in a spot of bother with news Monday that Reddit has been subpoenaed for details of users who participated on a Subreddit related to the service.
Evolution was a popular successor site to notorious drug and illegal goods market Silk Road, but mysteriously disappeared in the third week of March, with allegations that the owners of the site had fled with possibly millions in Bitcoin. As we wrote at the time, it was possible that they had absconded due to becoming aware that the Feds were moving in; it would appear that’s a highly likely scenario today.
The Baltimore Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is demanding Reddit turn over a collection of personal data about five users of the r/darknetmarkets subreddit; all five are said to have been involved in the subreddit discussion of Evolution’s abrupt disappearance.
One targeted user is u/NSWGreat, who posted details of the closure of the site first on Reddit, claimed to be an admin, and stated that among other things that he had lost $20,000 from the closure.
Other users named include z-l, Deepthroat and Evosmith, and Gwern Branwen, who is said to be a well-known security researcher, writer and moderator of the r/darknetmarkets subreddit.
Branwen told wired that he expects that news of the subpoena will likely drive users away from Reddit:
Branwen says he expects his revelation of the subpoena to drive many of r/darknetmarket’s conversations to Tor-protected forums like the drug-market discussion site called the Hub. “Riskier discussions will move onto the Hub, and as long as the Reddit admins don’t get spooked and shut it down similar to /r/jailbait, [r/darknetmarkets] will remain a useful discussion place,” he says.

No expectation of privacy

Despite the fact that many users of Reddit use the site thinking that they are anonymous, Reddit’s own privacy policy indicates that users have no expectation of privacy, particularly when it comes to law enforcement; you’re only as anonymous as the IP address Reddit’s servers collect.
The users named would be hoping at this point that they practiced safe internet, in that they were using Tor or a similar service to mask their IP addresses, because if they didn’t the Feds are about to come knocking on their doors.
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