Ross Ulbricht, currently imprisoned over charges relating to the Silk Road dark web market, featured in a special pre-recorded interview at this years largest Bitcoin event: Bitcoin 2021. This was the first time Ulbricht spoke in public since his arrest in 2013 for his role in creating for what we now know to be the bedrock of dark web marketplaces; Silkroad Market. Ulbricht talked about his initial intentions for the dark web market and “appealed to the Bitcoin community to continue advocating for freedom.”
A long and hard road
Ulbricht describes his time in prison as “A long and hard road” thanking everyone who has stuck with him during his now 8 years and counting time on the inside. Ulbricht explained in a phone interview with Bitcoin magazine that he has seen incredible innovations in the field of blockchain technology and explained that the people who have pushed these innovations have shown inspiring courage to the public. Ulbricht explained that when he started Silk Road he had no expectation or knowledge about where Bitcoin would take the world, but over the years, he has become increasingly impressed with what the community has accomplished.
We are transforming the global economy. We have brought a taste of freedom and equality to far corners of the world. I know we can transform criminal justice, too.
Ulbricht explained in a phone interview from a maximum security federal prison, which premiered at this years Bitcoin 2021 conference.
Ulbricht was 26 years old when he first launched Silk Road. Because of it’s nature and it being the first real dark web market of its kind, Silk Road quickly became the leading platform for illegal and illicit products, services and transactions in the world. A mere 2 years later Ulbricht was arrested and convicted of money laundering, computer hacking and conspiracy to traffic illicit items and received a double life sentence plus forty years in prison.
During the first time, phone-in, interview for Ulbricht since his arrest he explained how he first launched Silk Road without any later intentions or ideas about how popular the marketplace would become. He didn’t even yet completely understand how people would be using the platform. The main driving factor for Ulbricht was to give people back their online anonymity by leveraging the anonymous qualities of Bitcoin as a payment method.
I thought with Bitcoin, I could try and do something that actually makes a difference… Back then, I was impatient.
I rushed ahead with my first idea, which was Silk Road… That’s a 26-year-old who thinks he has to save the world before someone beats him to it.
Ulbricht explains how he had no real idea if Silk Road would even work but as they say: The rest is history. It’s now very clear that Silk Road was the foundation of what would become an ever growing community of dark web markets, sellers and buyers. Ulbricht explains it himself the best way he can:
It was used to sell drugs, and now I’m in prison.
Understanding that he may spent the rest of his life in prison for seeking to offer people a place to buy and sell illegal goods, Ulbricht explains the irony of the situation;
I made Silk Road in the first place because I thought I was furthering the things I cared about: Freedom, privacy, equality. But by making Silk Road, I wound up in a place where those things don’t exist.
He closed the call with a statement to everyone involved in cryptocurrencies;
Bitcoin is powerful. We are powerful. And our work is not over. It’s time to wake up, it’s time to take the next step!
Ulbricht’s friends and family started the Free Ross Project to seek support from the global community in an effort to reduce his sentence or even get Ulbricht his freedom back.
If you’re an advocate for such freedom you can still sign it right here.