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Ross Ulbricht Found Himself Between a Rock And a Hard Place

Ross Ulbricht’s lawyers have spent the last two months trying to shift the focus of Silk Road case onto the FBI. The center of attention for them was the legitimacy of actions the FBI had taken to receive information about Silk Road that was presented as an evidence against Ross Ulbricht who now faces charges of various criminal activity like money laundering, hacking, drug trafficking etc.

Ross Ulbricht is also known by the alias of Dread Pirate Roberts or DPR for short. He faces charges for creating the biggest online black market – Silk Road. The illegal website was a media to trade drugs, guns, hire hitman, etc.

Even though there are strong evidences presented by FBI showing that Ross Ulbricht was indeed the owner of the infamous online market, his lawyers try to prove that the information was acquired using illegal methods and thus the evidences has no legal value in court. The defense claims that FBI hacked the Silk Road servers that are located in Iceland without a warrant and would not have been able to detect the location of the server otherwise. Using the IP address of the Silk Road server the FBI was capable of matching the activity of Ross Ulbricht with Dread Pirate Roberts.

Nevertheless, judge Katherine Forrest did not accept the notion proposed by the defense. The argument she has presented on Friday in a 38-page ruling is that since Ulbricht did not claim the ownership of the server that Silk Road was hosted on, Ross Ulbricht is not able to claim that his rights were violated. However, if Ulbricht did claim the ownership of the server he would have faced charges for owning a server that hosts an entire black market.

The story suggests that the FBI or any other agency is allowed to access and even hack websites/servers that nobody has taken ownership of. Furthermore, would have to claim the ownership of the website/server for the evidence not to be used in court. Moreover, even though the FBI’s jurisdiction is limited to US and the Bureau did not have any warrant, the Bureau did not break any law by hacking to the Silk Road server that was located in Iceland. According to the judge, the FBI did not need a warrant to complete their investigation on Dread Pirate Roberts because the black market ran on the Tor anonymity software. Due to the Tor network it was impossible to know the location of the server or who administrated it without hacking to it.

The case of Ross Ulbricht and Silk Road is a perfect example that government can legitimately hack any website and they do not even need to obtain a warrant for that. Even though this time FBI’s capabilities were used to gather evidence to close down the biggest black market online, there is no guarantee that the government will not use power they have to gain information on regular citizens.

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