An amazing story about real-life Walter White of the interwebs

silk road

Ok, so he’s not really Walter White, just a dumbass grad school dropout, but this is still pretty mind-boggling. The Silk Road takedown has been all over the news, but here are a few things that I found particularly insane:

  • He was able to run an ebay for drugs and “services” in the open for two+ years and presumably collect $80mil with no immediate concern from anyone, though it was well-known enough that I’ve read about it a couple of years back
  • The idiot apparently fell for the fed-staged murder-for-hire-over-the-interwebs thing twice, and he seems to have genuinely believed it worked!
  • The first time, he ordered a hit on his crack-selling colleague (why would anyone in their right mind hire a drug dealer to run a website is beyond me) after the said colleague already got busted – how was that supposed to work?
  • Looking at the charges, it will be a very, very long time, if ever, before that dude gets to chill in a San Francisco coffee shop again

This sounds so absurd that I wouldn’t be surprised that he was really more of a Jesse than Walt; in a prior interview he kind of hinted that he apparently took over the site from someone else.

The moral of the story is this. Despite all the tech-utopia about the Bitcoin and such, it doesn’t seem likely that the government will tolerate any “disruptions” in the areas of anonymous public payment systems or uncontrolled circulation of various goods and activities. It will slowly but surely get to every new such development, reminding everybody that the Internet is not exactly an escape from the real life, just an extension of it:

The government’s investigation into the Dread Pirate Roberts and Silk Road officially began back in November 2011, when law enforcement agents began making a series of more than 100 individual undercover purchases of controlled substances from Silk Road vendors. Now, many of those vendors — and their customers — have to be wondering how long it may be before investigators come knocking on their doors.

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