Silk Road’s Ross Ulbricht Sues Government


Ross Ulbricht, the convicted founder of massive darknet marketplace Silk Road, filed a federal lawsuit last week accusing the Federal Bureau of Prisons of “substantially burdening his exercise of religion.” Ulbricht is serving consecutive life sentences at USP Tucson in Arizona on seven charges including money laundering, computer hacking and conspiracy to traffic narcotics.

Silk Road ran on the Tor network, a program that routes online traffic through intermediary servers, effectively encrypting and anonymizing all IP addresses before they connect with any site. By running his website on Tor, Ulbricht, who operated under the screen name “Dread Pirate Roberts,” was able to conceal the site’s IP address. Combined with his use of bitcoin, he was able to turn Silk Road into a fully anonymous online marketplace.

By March 2013, two years after the site’s launch, 10,000 products were available for sale on Silk Road, 70% of which were drugs grouped under the categories of stimulants, psychedelics, prescription, precursors, other, opioids, ecstasy, dissociatives and steroids/PEDs. According to a study performed by Carnegie Mellon University, an estimated $15 million in transactions were made annually on the darknet site, all of them being paid with bitcoin.

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