“You’re the Dread Pirate Roberts, admit it!” –Princess Buttercup, The Princess Bride
If you’ve been following the news lately, I am sure you have seen the words “Silk Road” more times than you can count. Some might be sick of hearing about it, however, I find the entire situation quite fascinating. If you aren’t up to date on this case, here is the rundown:
Ross Ulbricht (a.k.a. the Dread Pirate Roberts) is a 30 year old man with a master’s degree in materials science and engineering. He is accused of creating and operating what some call an eBay style site for illegal drugs and other illegal items called Silk Road. The site allowed buyers and sellers to remain completely anonymous by using Bitcoin (as currency) and Tor (technology created by the US Naval Academy). The long and the short of it is that currently Ulbricht is facing multiple charges and life in prison, while he claims he only started the site then handed over control of it.
Whether Ulbricht himself is innocent or guilt is beside the point. The real question everyone is asking is “Is web hosting illegal?”. Activists worry about our freedom and they wonder if Ulbricht’s rights were violated in the process of gathering evidence. Are web hosts responsible for what users do with their site? What are your thoughts?