It has been five years since the engineer and libertarian Ross Ulbricht was arrested in a public library in 2013. Ever since then, this case has been soaked with mixed political agendas, digital rights concerns and Bit coin discrediting.
The original Silk Road was perhaps the first market place on the dark web which became successful in running in an extremely efficient and elegant manner. It was the first place to recognize the potential of crypto currency and utilize them in an online market place style (like eBay). This platform was so good that even US politicians turned their heads toward it and turned it into a talking point to garner support and satisfy stakeholders.
Silk Road’s CEO Ulbricht was arrested in San Francisco and was tried by the Southern District of New York where Senator Chuck Schumer led the verbal proceedings and assault on the marketplace. His push to shut down Silk Road was clear: it was helping develop Bitcoins which was a threat to the financial system and Schumer’s wealthy constituents.Silk Road needed to go down nonetheless.
The man behind the scenes
Currently, Ross Ulbricht is housed in a maximum security prison. He is termed a non-violent and a normal guy, and his trail was slapstick.
The judiciary failed to address the evidence that placed Ross in prison in the first place. The law enforcements managed to obtain access to Silk Road’s server running in Iceland. However the very fact that the US law enforcements hacked a foreign country’s infrastructure to deal with a domestic matter and the legality of this action were not discussed or even raised by the judge assigned on the Silk Road case.
The victims of the case were left aggrieved. Most of these victims were corporations like the bloated U.S. prison system, law enforcement agencies, and pharmaceutical companies that sell drug kits to the prison. Ross’s service was outside the system, and it needed to be stopped. This case was a clear warning to anyone standing up with these corporations.
Justice suppressed under government control
Is it possible to integrate laws we have created to curb violence fueled cartels in the digital sphere? Can the intermediaries be answerable or responsible for what services the users use? Australia is one such example where the ISPs are not responsible for what their users do. This entire case was much more than the agenda of a young man who believed that a person should have unhinged access to anything without government intervention. It is a shameful stepping of a person’s rights to fulfill a line of political rhetoric. No justice was given to Ross because the trial was unfair.
The judiciary system, in this case, failed to keep a check on the law enforcement. The latter continues to operate in their own bubble where the results and convictions are given importance over the truth. Moral fibers are being broken and shattered into pieces.
What do we learn about our digital rights?
It is very important that we understand our basic digital rights.
Anyone using deep web sites understands the double standards of our digital lives. It’s because of this double standard that some we have been driven to the part of the internet which is unfiltered and non-indexed. It is also imperative that we understand that if we are using a service for free, we are not the customer rather products.
It is true that Ross did operate the dark web marketplace Silk Road, and in time it reached the criminal elements. The FreeRoss.org campaign has failed to address this simple fact. However, this campaign deserves our attention not because of our support for Silk Road, but for the investigatory powers, tactics and injustice served to Ross. All of this was done under to smear Bit coin and link cyptocurrency to misconducts.
Bitcoins were the primary target
It is safe to say that this entire case was a Bitcoin case. All of this was done to smear ink and tarnish the reputation of Bitcoins and crypto currency. Ironically, the Bitcoins which were seized during this case were auctioned off by the law enforcements pretty much in the same way a drug dealer’s car or house is auctioned off to the highest bidder. In doing so, the government and law officials unwittingly legitimized Bitcoins. The threat to the financial industry by Bitcoins was known previously, and in the creation of this connotation in relation of Bitcoin and criminal transactions, Ross was a sacrificial lamb.
The Final Say
We are all criminals. At least that is how the government sees us. Trading sensitive information in exchange of Bitcoins is accepted. Other darknet markets do not run on the same ideologies as that of Silk Road.