The Dread Pirate Roberts speaks.
No not the one from the Princess Bride, but the one who runs the Bitcoin-based illegal drug trafficking site, Silk Road.
But they have a lot in common. In the Princess Bride, the Dread Pirate Roberts is not one person, but a series of people who pass the name to a chosen successor. Likewise, there’s no way to know if the person interviewed by Forbes’ Andy Greenberg is the one and only Dread Pirate Roberts. In fact, the non-centralized, distributed nature of the Silk Road has been a key to its success as a dark web black market site — or at least their ability to elude DEA investigators.
In the interview Roberts reveals that he isn’t the creator of Silk Road, but rather a programmer who discovered a flaw in the wallet that stores Bitcoin funds on the site. He gained the founder’s trust by helping him to fix it rather than take advantage of it, and eventually bought the site.
Roberts’ background as a programmer may explain why Silk Road has so far managed to escape the authorities, while the child-porn trafficking site Freedom Hosting was recently taken out by the FBI.
Anyway, it’s a fascinating read. My takeaway: reactionary US drug policy inflated marijuana prices and financed the Latin American drug cartels, and now it’s building a thriving black market for illegal drugs online.