Ross Ulbricht Convicted!

Ross Ulbricht

About a month ago I posted an article about Silk Road owner/operator Ross Ulbricht who went by the name Dread Pirate Roberts.

In a sad turn of events, Ross Ulbricht has been convicted on ALL seven counts levied against him.

“30-year-old Ulbricht was convicted of all seven crimes he was charged with, including narcotics and money laundering conspiracies and a “kingpin” charge usually reserved for mafia dons and drug cartel leaders….”  from Greenberg’s Wired report.

Ulbricht’s legal team said they are filing an appeal.

What this does is makes any and ALL webmasters responsible for the content of their site regardless of who uploads it. To some extent this may may a bit of sense… on the other hand it is impossible to monitor millions of users’ uploads and goings on. Of course, that may be the intent of the govt with their proposed “Net Neutrality” bill.

This case makes me a criminal if anything posted to my site is illegal. Think on that a while.


Good Time to Buy Bitcoin

Markets overall are in a bit of a rough patch, but if you want to feel real pain, just look what’s going on with Bitcoin. The price of the digital currency collapsed throughout 2014, though each Bitcoin was still worth more than $300 as of the beginning of 2015. No more. In recent days, the price has collapsed below $200.

“Most likely, people are selling them to pay their taxes, since tax season is right around the corner & what better time to do so, than in January? With all the new Bitcoin regulation & taxes, a lot of folks don’t know what to expect this year. Personally, I see it as a good time to buy.” –Commenter  RiseFromTheAshes74

Why You Should Care That Trial of Ross Ulbricht, Accused of Running Silk Road, Begins Today

The trial of Ross Ulbricht, whom federal authorities say ran the “dark web” site Silk Road, starts today after multiple delays. If you care about Internet freedom and basic civil liberties, you should watch the proceedings with great concern.

Silk Road is best known as a bitcoin-enabled online marketplace for drugs (read Brian Doherty’s feature on the topic). But the case against Ulbricht, who war arrested in 2013, raises hugely important questions about Internet freedom and due process. When they nabbed Ulbricht, the feds made sure everyone knew that he had allegedly tried to hire hitmen to take care of drug-selling rivals. The New York Times Magazine ran a story that underscored the feds’ one-sided portrait as Ulbricht’s transformation from a literal Eagle Scout to the power-drunk “Dread Pirate Roberts” who was getting rich and insane from his role as proprietor of Silk Road.

Yet when it came time to, you know, actually charge him with crimes, the conspiracy to commit murder charges weren’t entered. Well, not exactly. They’re in the court documents but won’t actually be vetted by the court:

In addition to the drug and conspiracy charges, U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest ruled last week that she will allow prosecutors to try to prove their case by presenting evidence that Ulbricht discussed six different murder-for-hire plots to protect Silk Road.

That’s one way the feds are stacking the deck against Ulbricht, who may or may not be guilty of running Silk Road (I have no idea; but in the interests of disclosure, I contributed $100 to his defense fund out of concern of the way in which he is being prosecuted). The feds also have not explained to the defense how they tracked down Ulbricht, raising concerns that the evidence was initially gathered via intelligience operations that functioned without a legal warrant. That’s troubling, as is the government’s position that regardless of whether he profited from the site or actually trafficked in drugs himself, he should be responsible for what was going on at Silk Road. That charge flies in the face of existing laws that exempt ISPs and site operators from responsiblity for the actions and speech of users. The outcome of that specific issue could well chill the Internet well below absolute zero.

To paraphrase Joe Biden, this is a big fucking deal. Not simply because Ulbricht may be railroaded but because the way in which the prosecution is proceeding potentially threatens all of us who run websites, transact business online, and want to live in a country where the government has to be transparent about where it got its evidence against us.