Silk Road Investigation Took Legal Actions Only
This Friday information has been published by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) stating that they discovered an illegal website called Silk Road and they have proof of Ross Ulbricht using it.
Ulbricht himself submitted a 58-page filling to the US District Southern Court of New York claiming that federal officers performed illegal actions in order to investigate the Silk Road. Therefor, the information obtained during the procedure should not be used as an evidence in court.
As a counter measure FBI agent Christopher Tarbell wrote a document that criticizes the motion that Ulbricht and his defense filled in August. It was written in a manner that suggests that FBI denies all the blame expressed by Ulbricht.
In the document Tarbell calls out Ulbricht stating that Ulbricht that he has a “misjudged conjecture about the NSA being the shadowy hand behind the government’s investigation”.
According to the filling provided by the FBI the government was able identify Silk Road operating servers without using illegal means as it showed all the steps that had been taken to do so and link Ulbricht to the ‘Dread Pirate Roberts’ a nick name he supposedly used to operate the Silk road.
According to the FBI configuration a specific misconfiguration caused the service to leak the information from the Silk Road website. An exploit of this error was used to obtain IP addresses not protected by the Tor network and track the original their place of residence.
Ulbricht even brought up the Fourth Amendment in order to defend himself. However, FBI stated that, since the servers of the Silk road were located in Iceland, Fourth Amendment is null considering the case since the law apply only in the US even though Ulbricht himself is a US citizen.
Furthermore, FBI rejected claims that they used ‘pen register’ to track Ulbricht’s location although they they did not deny using it to monitor Ulbricht’s internet activity and compare it with the activity of the Dread Pirate Roberts, thus allowing to come to a conclusion that Ulbricht and Dread Pirate Roberts is the same person. Even then the government stated that the legitimate need to search the contents of the Silk Road servers were vastly more important than the right to privacy Ulbricht had.
Regardless of how reasonably and well put the file presented by the FBI was, it was still followed by critics that noticed that FBI cited an incorrect page and know that it is unlikely to successfully replicate the steps made by FBI to track the activity of users on Tor network.
Privacy researcher Runa Sandvik, speaking to Wired stated that in order to access a Silk Road CAPTCHA page FBI would have had to do it through the Tor network thus it is a flaw with Tor rather than the architecture of Silk Road.
The ongoing prosecution of Ross Ulbricht reached its last update and the trial is beginning this November.