Bitcoin can be considered a boon as well as a bane for society… (I’d say more “boon” than “bane”). Bitcoin is helping a lot of people, even in the remotest of places to access funds and financial services. Over 2.5 billion adults across the world are currently unbanked due to various reasons and Bitcoin has reached out to provide a fast and cost-effective alternative for these people. On the other hand, the so-called “anonymity” associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies made it a preferred currency for people dealing with illegal substances.
One of the first successful online marketplaces that accepted Bitcoin was started in the deep web. The website, Silk Road became known as the place on the internet (deep web) where you can get almost anything. It is unfortunate how a marketplace created by Ross Ulbricht with good intentions turned out to be the cause for his downfall.
Ulbricht started Silk Road as a place where people can express themselves as a free market. But little did he know that it is going to spin out of control (Or maybe he knew exactly where it was going). It all started with the combination of bitcoin and deep web, which was thought to be completely anonymous. Unfortunately, it wasn’t and the feds got a scent of Silk Road, they followed it closely and caught Ross Ulbricht in a sting operation.
After facing trail, Ulbricht was sentenced to life in jail by the Judge on behest of the federal prosecutors who thought that it will act as a deterrent for others who might follow his footsteps. Otherwise, Ulbricht was facing a maximum of 20 years in prison. The logic behind the judgement seems to be ridiculous, where the government and the judiciary decides to make an example out of one person without considering his rights as an individual. Something similar to the government’s stand on civilian deaths caused by UAVs (drones), CIA black sites for torture, invasion of privacy of its own citizens and so on. There are also concerns about the way evidence was collected against Ulbricht.
Ross Ulbricht also write a letter appealing to the judge, confessing to his naivety and misjudgment which led to the creation of Silk Road. Seems like it didn’t help his cause in any way. I am not going to decide on whether he deserved what he got. I will let you be the judge of it. An example, they have set for sure, but will it end here? What will be the fate of other similar sites on the dark web? Guess we have to wait for the whole plot to unveil.