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The Secret Online Weapons Store Thatíll Sell Anyone Anything
gizmodo.com ^ | 19 July, 2012 | Sam Biddle

Posted on 07/20/2012 7:14:18 PM PDT by marktwain

The Bushmaster M4 is a 3-foot rifle capable of firing thirty 5.56×45mm NATO rounds, and used by spec ops forces throughout Afghanistan. It's a serious weapon. But in the Internet's darkest black market, it's all yours. Who needs a background check? Nobody.

The Armory began as an offshoot of The Silk Road, notable as the Internet's foremost open drug bazaar, where anything from heroin and meth to Vicodin and pot can be picked out and purchased like a criminal Amazon.com. It's virtually impossible to trace, and entirely anonymous. But apparently guns were a little too hot for The Silk Road's admins, who broke the site off from the main narcotics carnival. Now guns, ammo, explosives, and more have their own shadowy home online, far from the piles of Dutch coke and American meth. But the same rules apply: with nothing more than money and a little online savoir faire, you can buy extremely powerful, deadly weapons—Glocks, Berettas, PPKs, AK-47s, Bushmaster rifles, even a grenade—in secret, shipped anywhere in the world.

So I wondered, just how easy is it to get a gun? A semi-auto, 9mm Beretta 92FS with "No scratches or dents, very slight wear from extremely light usage" would hit me for 338.69 bitcoins. At the current Bitcoin/Dollar exchange of roughly 9-to-1, that's a little over $3,000. A stiff markup. But that got me thinking: what if you wanted to go beyond arming yourself? What if you wanted something more powerful, or more plentiful? What if you weren't just interested in self-defense or hunting? What if you wanted to, say, arm a 20-person paramilitary group to overthrow a West African government in a Internet-armed coup d'état? Could a band of anonymous weapon mongers prepare me and 19 imaginary compatriots for illegal warfare? If you've got a spare million or so, looks like the answer is yes.

The Amazon comparison might not be fair—The Armory wants to make itself hard to access (for obvious reasons that have to do with not going to prison), so it's not as easy as just firing up any old website. In fact, it's not really on the web in any traditional sense. To get to The Armory, you need to deploy a free piece of software called TOR. Originally (and ironically) developed by the Navy, it's become the anonymizing software par excellence among criminals, hackers, schemers, and the otherwise paranoid. TOR routes and reroutes your connection to the Internet through a sprawling maze of encrypted nodes around the world, making it a herculean feat to find out who's who. The Armory's URL—ayjkg6ombrsahbx2.onion—reflects that, a garbled string of letters and numbers deliberately impossible to memorize. Once you're actually signed in, you then have to turn to Bitcoins as mandatory currency, a further exercise in computer secrecy and complexity in itself. This ain't exactly walking into a gun show and walking out with a pistol.

Still, the site prides itself on being about as easy to use as an illegal underground weapons dealership can be:

The Armory is an anonymous marketplace where you can buy and sell without revealing who you are. We protect your identity through every step of the process, from connecting to this site, to purchasing your items, to finally receiving them.

That receiving part is almost as tricky as the labyrinthine purchasing process. How exactly do you illegally ship illegal guns to potential criminals? In pieces. Small pieces. The crafty gun dealers of The Armory aren't going to just stick an assault rifle into a manilla envelope and drop it into a local mailbox. Rather, buyers get each gun component shipped in shielded packages—disguised to look like other products—that then require self-assembly. You get your gun, the dealer gets his money, The Armory retains its secrecy, and the mail carrier doesn't realize it's part of an international weapons smuggling operation.

But who are these anonymous online gunslingers? Nobody can know for sure. Nary a single one will mention where they source their wares, or provide even the slightest shred of locational information. You're lucky if you know what continent they're on. Some won't even talk to you unless you use an added layer of super-tough PGP encryption in all of your messages, gilding the lily with layer upon layer of software scrambling.

There's dave00, a European who'll ship you a bazooka:

Hello I'm dave00 a new firearms and explosive supplier. I have plenty of contacts all over EU that can provide me a large variety of weapons,ammunitions and explosives. usually all orders have to be considered shipping included . I can ship in various ways postal systems for small orders and dead drops with gps location . I can create custom listings on request I can ship in all EU and also to the USA I'm able to get handguns, full auto weapons, machineguns, grenade and rpg launcher and ammunitions

There's Steinberg, "Just a gun seller trying to expand his business."

And then there are the steely super-pros like "bohica," whose profile is written like it should be read in a thick, generically Soviet accent:

Greetings Armory Members,

We are Bohica and Associates and new to the Armory, but not new to the business. We are professionals that understand the needs of real shooters. We only locate and carry small arms, tactical equipment and munitions. If you need cheap shit guns, you can try IcePick and T-Dog on the corner, but you won't find any of that here. Our offerings initially will be a sample of our regular inventory. We will slowly release our inventory line as transactions progress. We want to be clear upfront we do not locate "exotic or collectible" small arms.

Luckily, as this is all online, you don't have to worry about bohica cutting your throat if your business goes awry. Which is good news, because I intended to do some serious fake business.

I started asking around for guns, contacting sellers directly. But what was the point? They list their stuff directly on the site. With pictures, specs, and price tags. There's no fun in window shopping—I wanted a special order. I wanted to equip a private army and overthrow a 3rd world government, combining faint fantasies of that time rich British guys conspired to take over Equatorial Guinea and various scenes from Clear and Present Danger. I'd need guns. Powerful guns. Lots of them. Could The Armory handle more than a pistol order—could it help me become a dictator?

I started asking around via private message—"Do you have what it would take to arm a small paramilitary group? Say, 20 people?" I made it clear that I needed something "more powerful" than what was displayed on the site. 
 The answers poured in:

I can provide: tec9, scorpion, ak47 and one single vietnam war "thumper", but its ammo costs. Smgs are much less expensive, and satisfy your self protection or combat needs very well: the sound of a easy-to-conceal soviet scorpion can scary the most badass motherfucker will stand in front of you... I'm telling this for you: one single grenade of a thumper costs 50 btcs to me: the GL itself will be around 100, to me. Take your time to choose, there's no rush: but be sure your purchase is worth :)

My sources aren't object of discussion, sorry. The cost depends from what do you need, obviously. I will provide good quality items:

what about something full auto easy to conceal? -H&K MP5K-PDW, i will get 16 pieces in two weeks.

Something less "lady style"? -H&K G3A3, 15 pieces in 2 week.

Something cheaper? -AK47, 28 pieces in 10 days.

Something sharper? -H&K PSG1 civilian model, 5 pieces in 2 weeks.

Something sharp but cheaper? -Dragunov SVD, 12 pieces in 10 days

Take your time and make your choice Sir, we're here to serve you.

I can provide a Accuracy International AW50 included optics and accessories But the power has always a big cost For this weapon i can provide also API, AP , Incendiary , tracer and explosive rounds

I would recommend ak47 or m4 , for sidearm mp5 or handguns like glock or beretta 92 The body armor will be NIJ IV level, it can stop also an ak47 rounds This kind of material is easily to obtain especially for body armor

But it was my supervillain friend bohica who seemed most willing to help me with my imaginary coup:

Absolutely, we can accommodate your request, but we need more parameters such as your exact arms needs and destination country. We only deal with small arms and equipment, but if you need artillery, MANPADS [Man-portable air-defense systems], ordinance, APCs, Helos we do have resources and can make certain introductions for a fee. Please send your next message through PGP encryption, our public key is on our profile page.

Regards,

Bohica

Bohica seemed ready to deliver me enough weapons to take on the US government, to say nothing of some West African backwater.

I told each seller I was ready to do ASAP, and they went off to get me pricing information and begin the long process of sourcing enough weaponry to arm twenty men through jungle and urban combat. Of course, I didn't buy anything—I don't have the tens of thousands of dollars to buy crates of rifles, or perhaps millions to buy helicopters and armored troop carriers. But there's every reason to believe that, with a little patience, a lot of money, and uneasy trust, these things could have been in my hands—or the hands of anyone else. Say, someone who wanted to go on a domestic shooting spree, assassinate a world leader, or any infinite number of other nefarious things you can do with guns and armored vests.

There's a mantle of skepticism here, of course: the huge and necessary question here is Are these people real? Is an entity like Bohica just an elaborate scam—an untraceable means of parting a fool (or warlord) with his money? I didn't find out, of course, as I don't have a giant cache of war money or the desire to topple Equatorial Guinea, but you're bound to wonder, are these "dealers" just putting together a federal sting operation? Sure, maybe—but there's plenty of reason to believe this is just as terrifyingly real as it looks. The sellers have feedback ratings, and reports in the Armory message boards of successful shipments. There's a whole thread dedicated to listing scammers, and none of my contacts were flagged.

And then there's the spooky case of "mrpman888," who instead of listing guns for sale, listed his seller's account. He'd had enough, he said, and wanted to offload the account to someone else—no questions asked. I asked a question, and he replied, curtly, "i just dont want it anymore. its never been used." Could he elaborate a little? "No."


Unless dozens of anonymous figures are all collaborating on one of the Internet's most bizarre forms of performance art meets con art, the whole thing is just too complicated to be wholly fraudulent. Some of these guys are selling guns. And if you're someone who doesn't want to be indiscriminately shot at, that's a problem. 
 Shouldn't the government be standing between us and a swarm of people who will send war weapons to anyone with the necessary cash? Say, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives? Surely, if the DEA is creeping up on The Silk Road's infinite drug stash, the feds must be up on The Armory? Right? Or have any idea of what it is? Not really. A call to the ATF didn't bring much reassurance: After trying to explain The Armory to a confused spokesperson, she replied only, after a long pause, her hair likely vibrating, tensely, from the dry air conditioning somewhere inside the federal sprawl, "It does seem like a problem." That was as much as she could give me. She put an ATF agent on speakerphone, who after another pause said only that he'd check into any ongoing investigation of The Armory, but that if there were such an investigation, he wouldn't be able to tell me. The ATF later called back to say they'd located The Armory in Virginia Beach, and that it was a fully licensed, legitimate operation. This, despite the fact that I'd explained again and again that it existed only within a marsh of online encryption, with the explicit mission of illegally selling illegal guns, illegally. I explained how a storefront in Virginia was sort of the opposite of The Armory, but it wasn't much good—the ATF said it'd have to dig around itself again and get back to me. It hasn't.

The Armory shouldn't scare you, really. There are plenty of ways for a crook to buy guns, and there have been since both crooks and guns existed. The site doesn't represent some new influx of bullets into murderous hands, so much as it's a harbinger of things to come—and a klaxon for what's already here. The Armory is a tiny community, but the network that hides it is immense and near impossible to dismantle. We should find solace knowing that there are tools like TOR to keep our emails away from, say, the prying eyes of an oppressive regime. But this tool is powerful far beyond privacy. If even a single gun is shipped to a single person, we're living in a society in which things that kill people can be moved around the world with zero accountability. And then there might be the guy whose dream of a heavily armed third world coup d'état is more than just an experiment.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: banglist; currency; gun; internet; preparedness
There are illustrations at the site.

I do not find the concept particularily threatening or problematic, as there are numerous weapon marts in the unregulated failed states where weapons can be obtained far more cheaply.

What is interesting is the idea of anonymous payment and transfer of money. Bitcoin is a real and growning currency. The idea of removing government and central banking control from money is fascinating, as it would remove a significant control mechanism that is destroying freedom around the world.

Think of the freedom that is gained if the government, banks and credit card companies cannot track your purchases, withdrawals and transfers of money, and the currency cannot be debauched by inflation.

1 posted on 07/20/2012 7:14:24 PM PDT by marktwain
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To: marktwain

This is interesting.

Have to bookmark this.


2 posted on 07/20/2012 7:18:49 PM PDT by rurgan (Sunset all laws at 4 years.China is destroying U.S. ability to manufacture,makes everything)
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To: NY Attitude

Later


3 posted on 07/20/2012 7:21:25 PM PDT by NY Attitude (Make love not war but be prepared for either.)
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To: marktwain

I guess it’s not a secret any more.


4 posted on 07/20/2012 7:22:17 PM PDT by smokingfrog ( sleep with one eye open (<o> ---)
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To: marktwain

Are these people surprised that arms dealers are online? I’m not sure I understand.

Weapons trafficking has been around as long as weapons have.


5 posted on 07/20/2012 7:23:58 PM PDT by flintsilver7 (Honest reporting hasn't caught on in the United States.)
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To: marktwain

If the 2nd amendment were taken as seriously as the 1st this would be perfectly legal. The 2nd amendment is even more strongly worded than the 1st.


6 posted on 07/20/2012 7:24:13 PM PDT by Durus (You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality. Ayn Rand)
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To: marktwain

This is terrible.

You could never purchase weapons in secret before the internet. It was impossible. That’s why there were no wars or terrorism before the invention of the Internet by the United States Government.

Oh The Humanity.


7 posted on 07/20/2012 7:24:25 PM PDT by Steely Tom (If the Constitution can be a living document, I guess a corporation can be a person.)
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To: Steely Tom

[Smirk]


8 posted on 07/20/2012 7:26:32 PM PDT by Misterioso (They tried to get me to hate white people, but someone would always come along and spoil it. - Monk)
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To: marktwain

So how does this clown propose to take delivery of his online arsenal? BATF could get some good publicity by allowing this idiot to order some illegal weapons, then charging him with multiple federal crimes and sending him to prison for 200 years.


9 posted on 07/20/2012 7:35:05 PM PDT by ozzymandus
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To: All

If any of you are interested in sending $3k to an anonymous person for an illegal transaction please save yourself the trouble and expense. Feel free to Freepmail me with your account information and for half the price you otherwise would have paid I’ll be happy to send you a boot with specific instructions on what to do with it.


10 posted on 07/20/2012 7:35:37 PM PDT by Tucsonican
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To: marktwain

My bullshit meter just exploded.


11 posted on 07/20/2012 7:36:30 PM PDT by gilor (Pull the wool over your own eyes!)
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To: Steely Tom

(golf clap)


12 posted on 07/20/2012 7:36:50 PM PDT by Tainan (Cogito, ergo conservatus sum)
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To: gilor

Yes but this is really interesting, how they communicate in secret. This may be our only hope after Obama and its big brother government censors the internet and bans everything:

“In fact, it’s not really on the web in any traditional sense. To get to The Armory, you need to deploy a free piece of software called TOR. Originally (and ironically) developed by the Navy, it’s become the anonymizing software par excellence among criminals, hackers, schemers, and the otherwise paranoid. TOR routes and reroutes your connection to the Internet through a sprawling maze of encrypted nodes around the world, making it a herculean feat to find out who’s who. The Armory’s URL—ayjkg6ombrsahbx2.onion—reflects that, a garbled string of letters and numbers deliberately impossible to memorize. Once you’re actually signed in, you then have to turn to Bitcoins as mandatory currency, a further exercise in computer secrecy and complexity in itself. This ain’t exactly walking into a gun show and walking out with a pistol.


13 posted on 07/20/2012 7:55:36 PM PDT by rurgan (Sunset all laws at 4 years.China is destroying U.S. ability to manufacture,makes everything)
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To: marktwain

You are right this is fascinating.

I want to by anonymous with Tor and Bicotin.

And I agree gov control of currency is destroying freedom and the U.S.A.


14 posted on 07/20/2012 8:01:15 PM PDT by rurgan (Sunset all laws at 4 years.China is destroying U.S. ability to manufacture,makes everything)
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To: marktwain

You are right this is fascinating.

I want to be anonymous with Tor and Bicotin.

And I agree government control of currency is destroying freedom and the U.S.A.


15 posted on 07/20/2012 8:02:03 PM PDT by rurgan (Sunset all laws at 4 years.China is destroying U.S. ability to manufacture,makes everything)
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To: Squantos

Ping... you should check this out. You’ll need TOR to get to it. :-)


16 posted on 07/20/2012 8:10:54 PM PDT by hiredhand
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To: marktwain

Well Sam, I guess if you want to close down this outlet for illegal stuff, including, but not limited to guns, you need to outlaw the Internet. And then outlaw and disable all electronic communications.

Mark


17 posted on 07/20/2012 8:46:50 PM PDT by MarkL (Do I really look like a guy with a plan?)
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To: marktwain
and when the LAW brakes down your door, well...
18 posted on 07/20/2012 9:01:37 PM PDT by Chode (American Hedonist - *DTOM* -ww- NO Pity for the LAZY)
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To: Tucsonican

Agree, this sounds like one should wear a tin foil hat while going online to do this stuff.

Before our benevolent government gets to the point we need to find guns this way, we should just reach into our closets or gun safes, lock & load, get into the pickup truck and drive to Washington DC to “petition” our government.


19 posted on 07/20/2012 9:07:40 PM PDT by RicocheT (Eat the rich only if you're certain it's your last meal)
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To: Chode

Don’t worry... They’ll shoot someones dog and kick down the door and kill the guy next door before they figure out they are at the wrong house.

Gives you ample time to escape.


20 posted on 07/20/2012 9:27:00 PM PDT by cableguymn (For the first time in my life. I fear my country's government.)
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To: marktwain

Seems like an offshoot of the Fast and Furious Operation.


21 posted on 07/20/2012 9:39:14 PM PDT by BuffaloJack (Repeal Obamacare, the CITIZENSHIP TAX)
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To: cableguymn
pretty much...
22 posted on 07/20/2012 9:44:36 PM PDT by Chode (American Hedonist - *DTOM* -ww- NO Pity for the LAZY)
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Click the link. The Republic you save may be your own.
Don't let FR fade away! Donate.
For every New Monthly Donor, another FReeper is donating $10.00!!
Please take this generous offer into consideration!

23 posted on 07/20/2012 9:46:44 PM PDT by RedMDer (https://support.woundedwarriorproject.org/default.aspx?tsid=93destr)
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To: marktwain

Well on another note he got the bullet proof gear from tacticalgear.com from Chesterfield MO - it on our local news here.


24 posted on 07/20/2012 10:24:54 PM PDT by stlnative
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To: stlnative

Sorry it wasn’t bullet proof stuff he bought from tacticalgear.com. CNN has the receipt. It was a vest, pistol mag, mag pouch and knife.


25 posted on 07/20/2012 10:30:15 PM PDT by stlnative
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To: reed13

bfl


26 posted on 07/20/2012 10:36:03 PM PDT by reed13k (For evil to triumph it is only necessary for good men to do nothing.)
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To: marktwain
What is interesting is the idea of anonymous payment and transfer of money. Bitcoin is a real and growning currency. The idea of removing government and central banking control from money is fascinating, as it would remove a significant control mechanism that is destroying freedom around the world.

Creation of a private way to purchase things online with the digital equivalent of cash is sorely needed. Not specifically for firearms, but for anything you wish to buy. We've long had the option to go into a brick and mortar store and do business without revealing our identity. Now in many markets, traditional sellers may not survive competition with online vendors (think Borders and Barnes & Noble). Our shopping privacy shouldn't die with them. People aren't inherently entitled to know your business just because you have the nerve to buy something from them.

27 posted on 07/21/2012 3:14:02 AM PDT by Still Thinking (Freedom is NOT a loophole!)
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To: Steely Tom
You could never purchase weapons in secret before the internet. It was impossible. That’s why there were no wars or terrorism before the invention of the Internet by the United States Government.

Damn that AlGore! I thought this globull warming scam of his was bad, but boy does HE have a lot to answer for!

28 posted on 07/21/2012 3:15:35 AM PDT by Still Thinking (Freedom is NOT a loophole!)
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To: rurgan

And if the journalist can get in so can Barack Obama and his aunt and uncle.


29 posted on 07/21/2012 3:59:17 AM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (let me ABOs run loose, lew (or is that lou?))
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To: marktwain; Allegra; big'ol_freeper; Lil'freeper; TrueKnightGalahad; blackie; Larry Lucido; ...
Re: The Armory's URL—ayjkg6ombrsahbx2.onion—reflects that, a garbled string of letters and numbers deliberately impossible to memorize.

Mark, like the reports of your death... this 'ayjkg6ombrsahbx2.onion' URL takes you to a page that says Document Not Found Sorry, the requested document does not exist on this server

30 posted on 07/21/2012 5:55:21 AM PDT by Bender2 ("I've got a twisted sense of humor, and everything amuses me." RAH Beyond this Horizon)
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To: marktwain

This sounds like all those ads for auto sears you could find in the classified section of Shotgun News. Only thing coming to your door if you are dumb enough to order is an ATF or FBI agent.


31 posted on 07/21/2012 9:28:54 AM PDT by ScottinSacto
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To: Bender2

Of course it does; you’ve got it appended to an FR URL!!

I believe you need TOR installed on your computer. Then it would crank.


32 posted on 07/21/2012 5:27:24 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (let me ABOs run loose, lew (or is that lou?))
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To: Bender2

Of course it does; you’ve got it appended to an FR URL!!

I believe you need TOR installed on your computer. Then it would crank. (Of itself, not appended to an FR URL.)


33 posted on 07/21/2012 5:27:50 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (let me ABOs run loose, lew (or is that lou?))
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To: HiTech RedNeck

With just the ‘ayjkg6ombrsahbx2.onion’ alone it gets the same ‘does not exist’ notice.


34 posted on 07/21/2012 6:59:12 PM PDT by Bender2 ("I've got a twisted sense of humor, and everything amuses me." RAH Beyond this Horizon)
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To: marktwain

bflr


35 posted on 07/21/2012 7:06:41 PM PDT by antisocial (Texas SCV - Deo Vindice)
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To: Bender2

Did you put TOR up on your machine? I believe it needs to be there in order to intercept the .onion URLs and point the browser at the right place whilst doing its own part in the encryption/decryption chain.


36 posted on 07/21/2012 8:54:53 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (let me ABOs run loose, lew (or is that lou?))
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To: HiTech RedNeck

What is TOR?


37 posted on 07/21/2012 10:44:13 PM PDT by Bender2 ("I've got a twisted sense of humor, and everything amuses me." RAH Beyond this Horizon)
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To: Bender2

the onion router


38 posted on 07/21/2012 11:28:52 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (let me ABOs run loose, lew (or is that lou?))
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To: marktwain

bookmark


39 posted on 07/26/2012 1:03:24 AM PDT by rurgan (Sunset all laws at 4 years.China is destroying U.S. ability to manufacture,makes everything)
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