Is Web Hosting a Crime? Silk Road Founder Convicted

February 4, 2015

4:57 pm

It’s a question that has a lot of individuals, legislators, and web site operates scratching their heads as a Manhattan courthouse today found Silk Road’s Ross Ulbricht guilty on all charges. If you’re unfamiliar with Silk Road, here’s a bit of background.

It was officially launched in 2011 by ‘Dread Pirate Roberts’, a pseudonym used by Ulbricht though the true identity has been heavily disputed up until Ulbricht’s arrest. In effect it was an online black market best known for selling illegal drugs, among other things, and was fueled entirely by Bitcoin. Some even think that it might have actually been directly responsible for the popularity we see today with the cryptocurrency.

The platform was part of the Deep Web and, as such, was operated as a Tor hidden service. That is, users who wanted to browse, buy, and connect on Silk Road could remain completely anonymous and secure without potential traffic monitoring.

Ulbricht was formally arrested on October 2, 2013 by the FBI in San Francisco. The charges he was slapped with, which at the time he denied, were money laundering, computer hacking, conspiracy to traffic narcotics, and attempting to kill six individuals.

During his trial, which began on January 13, 2015, Ulbricht admitted that he had, at least, founded the Silk Road website. However, he claimed to have transferred control of the site to other people soon after he founded it.

He was hard-pressed to convince a jury of his peers though, and was booked on seven charges in total including the aforementioned plus narcotics conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, and engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise. While Ulbricht will most likely keep fighting, he could face up to life in prison.



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Will is a Senior Writer with Tech.Co, based out of America's Finest City: San Diego. He covers all territory West of the Mississippi river, digging deep for awesome local entrepreneurs, companies, and ideas. He's the resident Android junkie and will be happy to tell you why you should switch to the OS. When he's off the clock, Will focuses his literary talent on the art of creative writing...or you might find him surfing in Ocean Beach. Follow Will on Twitter @WJS1988

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