New York Times Square Billboard Demands Release of Silk Road Darknet Drug TraffickerBy May 22, 2020 3 Min Read
A billboard in Times Square has been hired by the ‘Free Ross’ movement as part of a campaign to release Ross Ulbricht, the founder of the Silk Road contraband marketplace on the darknet.
Ross Ulbricht is currently serving a double life sentence for his role as a darknet marketplace entrepreneur. He is in the seventh year of his sentence and it would appear that he is unlikely to ever be released without a pardon. He is 36 years old.
According to a tweet from the account ‘Clemency for Ross’, the billboard has been rented for several months. The post also claims the campaign message was paid for by a single ‘generous supporter’ and was not funded by any donations that they have received.
— Free_Ross (@Free_Ross) May 20, 2020
Ulbricht Double Life Sentence
Ulbricht was arrested and imprisoned in 2013 for setting up the ‘Silk Road’ darknet marketplace. He operated the site under the alias, ‘Dread Pirate Roberts’ an obvious homage to the staple character in the Princess Bride.
The Silk Road online darknet market place reached the height of its popularity in 2011, and it was a pioneer in postal order drugs and other contraband, and unfortunately, the use of cryptocurrency and Bitcoin for trade on the black market.
Court documents from that time show that the darknet site facilitated around 1,229,465 transactions over its two-year operation. Ulbricht took a percentage of all proceeds.
Child Porn Solution From Prison
Despite having no access to the internet, Ulbricht has been able to remain active in the crypto community via his friends and supporters who will publish his contributions online.
Last month on May 20, one of his followers published on Ulbricht’s Medium account on his behalf. The article is on Ulbricht's proposed automated solution called ‘ZKANN’ which the Silk Road founder believes would be an effective measure against the spread of child pornography and pedophilia on encrypted platforms.
Unfortunately, the use of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum has become the preferred payment for internet-based human trafficking and sexual exploitation services, which include blackmail porn and the sexual assault of minors and children.
Ulbricht states that as many large platforms already deploy algorithms such as to automatically moderate content. He goes on to recommend that the operators of encrypted platforms should combine zero-knowledge proofs (ZKP) in conjunction with artificial neural networks (ANN)s to identify content depicting child abuse.
Ulbricht also advises that law enforcement data be used to train the ZKANN (ZKP + ANN) to identify the child porn and other inappropriate content and stop it from being launched on public systems.
Like the namesake of his alias, “Dread Pirate Roberts” it appears that Ulbricht is also more than what he appears. Despite his reputation as a criminal among the public, it seems underneath the guise of this notorious drug trafficker image is a man with some virtues worth respect which is perhaps why, even now, he finds himself with strong support for clemency.