At the beginning of the current month, the US, Canada and Thailand have carried out an important law enforcement action to shut down AlphaBay, one of the most popular marketplaces of illicit goods on the Deep Web.
The Deep Web is the hidden part of the Internet: it is not indexed and cannot be searched with the normal search engines like Google.
The Deep Web includes the Darknet which is composed of sites that can be accessed only via the TOR browser.
TOR stands for “The Onion Router”. This browser allows users to hide their identity in the Darknet and to sell illicit goods such as drugs, weapons and counterfeited products on anonymous marketplaces.
The Darknet has become a new challenge for IP rights’ owners who are faced with massive sales of infringing goods on underground markets.
One of the biggest marketplaces on the Darknet was AlphaBay which opened in 2014 and had over 240,000 users. According to the Wall Street Journal, AlphaBay went offline following an international law enforcement action executed by the police authorities of US, Canada and Thailand. On the 5th of July 2017, the supposed administrator of AlphaBay, Alexandre Cazes, was arrested in Thailand. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police cybercrime unit has carried out searches on Cazes’ activities. A few days after, he was found dead in his cell before his extradition to the US.
The take down of AlphaBay, however, will not stop the sale of counterfeits on the Deep Web. Users of AlphaBay are already searching for new marketplaces to sell their infringing products. A possible successor to AlphaBay, amongst the various Darknet markets, could be DREAM.
Even if the shutdown of AlphaBay is causing a short rest in the current context, it does not represent a real deterrent for infringers, who are just changing the websites where they can continue to act anonymously.