"In creating Silk Road, I ruined my life and destroyed my future."—Ross Ulbricht
Admitted and convicted Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht will spend the rest of his life in jail for creating a revolutionary website that made it easier and safer to buy and sell illegal drugs (along with just about everything else). Though Silk Road has been shut down by federal authorities, similar sites have sprung up like magic mushrooms after a rainstorm and, powered by block-chain technology, encryption, and sheer human desire and ingenuity will never disappear again. Governments can (and will) try like Canute holding back the waves to keep people from doing what they want. And like Canute, they will fail, especially when sites such as Silk Road let them do what they in a more peaceful and efficient way.
In the pre-sentencing letter he wrote to Judge Katherine Forrest, Ulbricht acknowledged his guilt while defending the vision he had for the site.
Go here to read the pre-sentencing letter Ulbricht wrote to Judge Katherine Forrest, who ended up more than throwing the book at him. Indeed, she handed down a sentence beyond even what prosecutors (who were no slouches in asking for punishment) asked for.
"The stated purpose [of the Silk Road] was to be beyond the law. In the world you created over time, democracy didn't exist. You were captain of the ship, the Dread Pirate Roberts," she told Ulbricht as she read the sentence, referring to his pseudonym as the Silk Road's leader. "Silk Road's birth and presence asserted that its…creator was better than the laws of this country. This is deeply troubling, terribly misguided, and very dangerous."
Go here for Jim Epstein and Kurt Loder's video report from the sentencing hearing held in New York on Friday.
Last fall, Ulbricht's mother Lyn Ulbricht talked about why her son's case wasn't simply about his guilt or innocence but about a number of issues related to the future of innovation, civil liberties, and government's ability to restrain internet-based freedom. Watch that now: