After what must have been a great deal of effort, Andy Greenberg managed to get an interview with the Dread Pirate Roberts, the mystery person behind Silk Road. The Dread Pirate Roberts is one of those individuals I look up to. By operating the Silk Road, a truly free market for many things that are prohibited by the state, he or she has done far more to advance liberty than the throngs of people who sink their time into politics. He or she has actually created a mechanism that allows individuals to live freer today. Although the entire interview is of interest I think the most telling part is the following paragraph:
All my communications with Roberts are routed exclusively through the messaging system and forums of the website he owns and manages, the Silk Road. Accessing the site requires running the anonymity software Tor, which encrypts Web traffic and triple-bounces it among thousands of computers around the world. Like a long, blindfolded ride in the back of some guerrilla leader’s van, Tor is designed to prevent me–and anyone else–from tracking the location of Silk Road’s servers or the Dread Pirate Roberts himself. “The highest levels of government are hunting me,” says Roberts. “I can’t take any chances.”
I doubt this is an understatement since anybody who unveils the Dread Pirate Robert’s identify and manages to arrest him will become legendary in the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), and other law enforcement agencies. For the crime of operating an online market place that allows individuals to sell what they want he or she is being hunted like a dog.
Still, with all of its power and might, the state has been unable to locate the Dread Pirate Roberts or Silk Road. The state’s inability to find and strike against either is a testament to the power of location hidden services.