Dread Pirate Roberts and The Silk Road

Written by David Michaelis

David Michaelis looks at Dread Pirate Roberts and the demise of Silk Road.

aNewDomain.net — The Silk Road, the anonymous marketplace that traded in drugs and other illegal goods, is back online and in a new version.

According to AllThingsVice, a website that monitors the so-called Dark Net, the new site is already selling a wide range of drugs.

The first version of Silk Road was shut down by the FBI in October and its alleged administrator arrested.

But those behind it always vowed to revive the site. The new administrator of the revived site has adopted the same handle as the previous operator – Dread Pirate Roberts.

new silk road

You can’t shut down a website and expect it gone forever. It’s a website. It’s just like the torrent sites. By the time the shut down one, you have 100 new ones up and running. It is an international effort as you can see.


The first thing you need to know about Bitcoin is that it’s a peer-to-peer, digitized crypto currency. For example, you can buy drugs with it. I mean, sure, you can buy plenty of other stuff, too. One study found that Silk Road, the main buy-drugs-with-Bitcoin website, had a monthly turnover of around a $1 million. Silk Road is an anonymous, digital way to sell drugs via bitcoins, the supposedly untraceable Internet currency. It’s also the website that Senator Chuck Schumer, fresh off his attack on Four Loko, called “a certifiable one-stop shop for illegal drugs.” Accessing this anonymous drug market isn’t as easy as Googling it, but once you’re in, users are greeted with a drug-buying experience that is unmatched and surprisingly simple.

The FBI has the equivalent of $80 million Bitcoins in the Virtual Vault — but no access code. Some on the darknet are having a big laugh about this huge catch, that cannot be unlocked, for now.

The dilemma here is that Dread Pirate Roberts became a folk hero. Silk Road was a logical extension for Bitcoins to be used as currency. Anonymity was guaranteed, and freedom to do whatever you wish came with it. Silk Road even had a bookstore with Rand Paul-oriented philosophy. The question is if Internet Libertarians, including much of the aNewDomain.net team, can draw the lines between Assange, the anonymous hackers collective, and Silk Road.


Who are the real baddies, as my grandson would ask? The questions go on: Is core pirate philosophy simply wrong or do digital rights go with child pornographers? Do we as Libertarians of the digital age have a demarcation problem?

Clearly paying for executions with Bitcoins is way out of line. The Internet liberates but its dark corners attract different human motives.

As Motherboard says:

It’s part of the Internet, but it’s comprised of sites that aren’t indexed by search engines and take some finagling to find. Who uses the deep web? Mainly hackers, Libertarians, and child pornographers – that and open-web enthusiasts, but mainly hackers, Libertarians, and child pornographers. Some researchers believe it’s almost three times the size of the standard web. It’s like the Internet is an iceberg, and below the surface of the water are DIY Russian submarines armed with digital missiles pointed at the world’s governments.


For more about bitcoin see this video.

For aNewDomain.net, I’m David Michaelis.