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Law Enforcement Uses Stored Data to Track Illegal Drug Sales

Stored data can consist of nearly any type of information. From datasets that hold your personal information to credit card records, transactional receipts and more – they're all used to make consumer life in the 21st century a little bit easier;

Nearly everything you do online is stored in a dataset somewhere. In some cases, the info is destroyed – either purposely or accidently – and lost for good. But in most cases, that data remains dormant on some remote server in one of the many data centers across the globe. If that information is ever needed – to aide in a legal investigation or something similar – it's easily accessed by the proper authorities.

So that's exactly what officials in the U.S. and the Netherlands are doing.

In a new initiative to frighten and, in some cases, arrest users who purchase illegal drugs over the Darknet, authorities are going door-to-door in two of the biggest drug trafficking nations across the globe to make contact with verified drug buyers. But how do they know who to target?

Going Directly to the Source

The Hansa market was one of biggest online resources of illegal drugs. It stepped up to take the place of the Silk Road, which garnered significant media attention when it was taken down by authorities in the early 2010s.

Eventually, Dutch police gained access to the internal framework of the Hansa market. They arrested the market's moderators and then came up with an ingenious idea. Instead of removing the market from the Darknet completely, they continued to operate the market – in full secrecy – to begin harvesting the data of Darknet drug buyers.

The trick worked like a charm. Not only did officials uncover the fact that the majority of purchases were made by American and Dutch citizens, but they were able to collect the personal information on an untold number of buyers.

Using Scare Tactics...Mostly

It wasn't long before police in the U.S. and the Netherlands began showing up at the doorsteps of verified drug purchasers. In many cases, the visit amounted to nothing more than basic scare tactics. Authorities simply want to let individuals know that they cannot buy illegal drugs on the Internet, Darknet or otherwise, and remain anonymous.

But at least one buyer was arrested in the Netherlands. According to Dutch police, it was a 25-year-old citizen who was recorded purchasing 150 ecstasy pills from the Hansa market. Authorities in the Netherlands visited nearly 40 separate addresses in their first two days. Officials in the U.S. did not disclose how many addresses they visited or how many arrests were made within the United States.

'''Even the Darknet Isn't Safe'''

Hackers, whistleblowers, freedom fighters and tech-savvy computer users often flock to the Darknet for its perceived anonymity and enhanced security. However, the recent efforts of Dutch authorities – and, to a lesser extent, U.S. police – prove otherwise. It appears that even the Darknet isn't immune from the long arm of the law.

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