Deep Web Movie Showcases Power of Ideas and Technology

On October 2, 2013 a man walked into a San Francisco library to use the Internet. He left in the clutches of strangers and was forced into a cage. Last Friday, that man — Ross Ulbricht — was told that he will remain caged until he dies.

Ulbricht was involved with The Silk Road. Most of the site’s transactions involved substances deemed illegal by those who call themselves your rulers. Yet Ulbricht did not hurt anyone. He did not commit a crime. He was targeted because he, and the ideas he advocated and put into action, threatened the statist quo.

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Ross Ulbricht

I won’t detail the ridiculous legaland adventure Ulbricht was subjected to – the unanswered question of how those with badges located the servers used by The Silk Road, the blockage by “the honorable” Katherine B. Forrest of all information, questions or witnesses that could make it more difficult for her colleague Preet Bharara to land Ulbricht in a cage, or the fact that those who led the investigation against Ulbricht stole over $1 million in Bitcoin and transferred it to personal accounts – except to say that it’s not a surprise how it played out. After all, those who call themselves your rulers operate according to the mantra, “rules for thee, but not for me.”

The Silk Road attracted the ire of agents of the globes biggest gang because it effectively combined two technologies – Bitcoin and Tor – to create an anonymous market. It took away the power of those who thrive on the War on Drugs – the folks with badges.

This past weekend the documentary Deep Web, which details Ulbricht’s plight, was released. From its creators:

Deep Web gives the inside story of one of the the most important and riveting digital crime sagas of the century — the arrest of Ross William Ulbricht, the convicted 30-year-old entrepreneur accused to be (sic) ‘Dread Pirate Roberts,’ creator and operator of online black market Silk Road. The film explores how the brightest minds and thought leaders behind the Deep Web are now caught in the crosshairs of the battle for control of a future inextricably linked to technology, with our digital rights hanging in the balance.

In addition to being the only film with exclusive access to the Ulbricht family, Deep Web features the core architects of the Deep Web; anarchistic cryptographers who developed the Deep Web’s tools for the military in the early 1990s; the dissident journalists and whistleblowers who immediately sought refuge in this seemingly secure environment; and the figures behind the rise of Silk Road, which combined the security of the Deep Web with the anonymity of cryptocurrency.

As Vendor “Y”, interviewed in Deep Web makes clear, those most active on The Silk Road sought to bring an end to the drug war and the associated violence waged by those with badges.

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There needed to be a violence reduction in purchasing drugs… The violence isn’t just from the people buying and selling the drugs. The violence is from the police departments and the federal agents prosecuting this war. And not to mention the horrendous violence we commit overseas on people… The War on Drugs is you know, all about fear, uncertainty and doubt.

Without question, those who call themselves your rulers were threatened. The fear they peddle – the guns, the MRAPs, the cages – had no way to impinge on anonymous consensual interactions. If their fear campaign does not penetrate, they loose clout. They become irrelevant. The arbitrary authority upon which they thrive ceases to be.

The Silk Road was said to have done over a billion dollars in sales. Exclusively in Bitcoin. Since then, the price of Bitcoin has gone up, making that number over two billion dollars.

deep-web-silk-road-transactions-copblock As a pair of professors wrote in their study about The Silk Road

Whereas violence [in the traditional drug trade] was commonly used to gain market share, protect turfs and resolve conflicts , the virtual location and anonymity that the cryptomarket provides reduces or eliminates the need – or even the ability – to resort to violence.

More than anything else, Ulbricht and liked-minded cohorts were successful and effective in undermining the charade that perpetuates the drug war and the fallacy that says some have the legal right to rule others. Truly, ideas have consequences.  And though Ulbricht’s physical being is now caged, the ideas he espoused, and the technologies he helped craft, are alive and well.

Deep Web was solid. You should check it out:

We are NOT beasts of burden to be taxed and controlled
– Dread Pirate Roberts

Request a screeningpurchase a copy, or if you watch it via a Torrent, as I did, take director Alex Winter‘s advice and kick some coin to FreeRoss.org.

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Pete Eyre

Pete Eyre is co-founder of CopBlock.org. As an advocate of peaceful, consensual interactions, he seeks to inject a message of complete liberty and self-government into the conversation of police accountability. Eyre went to undergrad and grad school for law enforcement, then spent time in DC as an intern at the Cato Institute, a Koch Fellow at the Drug Policy Alliance, Directer of Campus Outreach at the Institute for Humane Studies, Crasher-in-Chief at Bureaucrash, and as a contractor for the Future of Freedom Foundation. In 2009 he left the belly of the beast and hit the road with Motorhome Diaries and later co-founded Liberty On Tour. He spent time in New Hampshire home, and was involved with Free Keene, the Free State Project and The Daily Decrypt.