Who controls the Internet’s frontier?
Ross William Ulbricht was arrested this past week for involvement in the black market. No big deal; many people are selling things illegally, which will eventually catch up to them one way or another.
The difference with Ulbricht is that he created the space for a black market… online. The news is dubbing his alleged website the “illegal Amazon” but to its users it’s known as “The Silk Road.” Authorities contest that Ulbricht himself has been using the alias, The Dreaded Pirate Roberts, from the classic movie, “The Princess Bride”, and is the ringleader in the illegal enterprise. From here the story seemingly gets even more fantastical and confusing.
This is how CNN describes the website: After Ulbricht’s arrest “the FBI swiftly shuttered the site, an underground digital marketplace that, since its inception in 2011, has allowed users to anonymously trade illegal goods and services in near total secrecy, using the digital currency bitcoin, and an encryption network called Tor that routes traffic through a “hidden” area of the Internet known as ‘the dark web.’”
Underground digital market place? Hidden Internet? The dark web? Digital currency? Needless to say, the Internet is a much larger place than most perceive it to be.
“The Silk Road” was a “hidden” market of hard drugs, hit men, hackers, counterfeit cash, forged documents, firearms and ammunition.
But the working practicality of digital currency for physical goods or services is particularly interesting. The indictment stated the site had generated over 9.5 million bitcoins in sales revenue which experts estimate exchanged for $1.2 billion in sales.
The end of the CNN report also sparked interests when it stated: “Silk Road’s closure is unlikely to bring an end to the trade of illegal goods on the dark web, as similar sites operate on the Tor network.”
Ok, the story is fascinating in of itself, but here is the point:
Where is the NSA? Lately, much of what the American public has heard in the news is how overreaching the American government is in Internet affairs. Well, they need to start overreaching in blatantly illegal affairs.
How can they not track $1.2 billion exchanged over the Internet? How can they track and store all of our calls and emails and such and not target the “hidden” spaces and/or the “dark-web”?
The Internet is still a new frontier and in most frontiers, the outlaws beat the authorities to the jump. The next question is whether or not the outlaws have gotten too far ahead for the authorities to catch up?
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