Silk Road: How FBI closed in

Mr Ulbricht said to have been running Silk Road from Hickory Street in San Francisco

Mr Ulbricht said to have been running Silk Road from Hickory Street in San Francisco

BBC News – Silk Road: How FBI closed in on suspect Ross Ulbricht

“US authorities believe that 29-year-old Ross William Ulbricht, arrested on Wednesday, is Dread Pirate Roberts DPR – the administrator of the notorious Silk Road online marketplace. It was an underground website where people from all over the world were able to buy drugs.

In the months leading up to Mr Ulbricht’s arrest, investigators undertook a painstaking process of piecing together the suspect’s digital footprint, going back years into his history of communicating with others online.

The detail of how the FBI has built its case was outlined in a court complaint document published on Wednesday.

As would be expected, Dread Pirate Roberts was using a VPN – virtual private network – to generate a “false” IP address, designed to cover his tracks.

However, the provider of the VPN was subpoenaed by the FBI.

While efforts had been made by DPR to delete data, the VPN server’s records showed a user logged in from an internet cafe just 500 yards from an address on Hickory Street, known to be the home of a close friend of Mr Ulbricht’s, and a location that had also been used to log in to the Gmail account.”

more… via BBC News – Silk Road: How FBI closed in on suspect Ross Ulbricht.

“Internet Freedom” and Post-Snowden Global Internet Governance

“Internet Freedom” and Post-Snowden Global Internet Governance

by Michael Gurstein

And so we have the upcoming 8th session of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Bali with many of the main [“Internet Freedom”] protagonists having been more or less completely discredited…

So, what will be discussed at the IGF apart from the usual empty rhetoric about capacity building for LDC’s and legitimate campaigns against online skullduggery of the spam, kiddieporn, phishing variety?

Perhaps I could make a modest suggestion for the discussion. Perhaps we could discuss “Internet Freedom” but Internet Freedom in a post-Snowden world and without the hypocrisy and sanctimony of the previous discussions.

Perhaps we could discuss Internet Freedom as Freedom from undue and unaccountable surveillance; Internet Freedom as true Freedom of Expression where the forces of repression whether in Langley or in Moscow or Shanghai are made transparent and accountable; where Internet Freedom is anchored in the rule of law–not the, shall we say, rather “flexible” law of the world’s single superpower, but a rule of law to which all are expected to adhere and where mechanisms are in place to ensure that, to the degree possible, all are responsive and accountable; where Internet Freedom is not just for some but where it’s responsibilities and most importantly its protections are available for all of us — “foreigners” or no– and where all have some degree of input into how those laws are constructed and administered; where Internet Freedom does not mean that actions on and through the Internet will be subverted and directed simply to further enrich the already obscenely enriched, but rather to ensure that the benefits including financial benefits accruing from the Internet serve to reduce global inequalities.

I look for those who a year ago, were so eager to rally forces in support of Internet Freedom, to rally again to this somewhat battered standard; but now, one that is rather less naive and rather more reflective of the underlying reality of this technology enabled world in which we live. — Michael Gurstein [full article:  “Internet Freedom” and Post-Snowden Global Internet Governance]

[Is freedom just another word for the law of the jungle, the war of all against all, and might makes right? Instead of naive or disingenuous “freedom” rhetoric, we need the transparent, even-handed, rule of law starting with a Universal Internet Bill of Rights or “Internet Magna Carta.” The primary danger is always that lawmaking and enforcement can be hijacked by special interests. –PR]

Related PRA 2.0 posts

The Internet, Global Governance, and the Surveillance State in a Post-Snowden World (The Internet is Not Your Friend, Get Over It)

[This essay presents the issues without the spin and hyperbole common to most partisan and ideologically biased commentary. –PR]

Mike Gurstein’s “Post Script” is a good summary of the essay:

The dilemma of how to respond to the Snowden revelations–the loss of innocence with respect to the Internet, the very real threat of a totalized Surveillance (and Command and Control) Society–is a very real and immediate one.

Unfortunately none of the approaches so far being suggested seem capable of dealing with the realities which are being faced.

Challenges to these actions on the basis of existing laws (or constitutional guarantees) seem to be countered by processes of legalization and revision of constitutional interpretation (and very much depend on the existence of an enforceable rule of law which in some national jurisdictions at least seems questionable).

Arguments that current grassroots initiatives might scale sufficiently to present a form of counter-power or alternative technology/techno-social structures seem highly optimistic at best (open for example to intervention and manipulation as they might become successful and an apparent threat).

Technical solutions concerning encryption and structuring/restructuring of existing infrastructures appear dependent on the active involvement of significant technical and corporate bodies/individuals who to this point have been either complacent or even complicit in the developments noted above.

The development of broad framework agreements towards governing the Internet and the broad technical and telecommunications infrastructure are seen by many as quite unrealistic, however, they might provide the only realistic hope.  Their significance would be not so much in the capacity to enforce these agreements (the incapacity of existing of oversight and control structures in the face of political force, technology drive, personal and corporate interests and collective insecurities are not such as to lead to a great of optimism in this direction).  Rather their significance would come through the process of their formulation as nations and their citizenries globally would need to be confronted with the quite stark choice of acceptance of a Surveillance (and Command and Control) State or of a rule of law enforced through transparency and democratic oversight.  –Mike Gurstein


Related PRA 2.0 posts:

Gurstein's Community Informatics

Much has been made of the role that the Internet is playing in restructuring the way in which governance is executed both at the national and the global levels. The role of the Internet in supporting the rise of wide-spread autocrat-challenging movements in the Arab world, the role of the Internet in enabling middle class protests against out of touch officials and political structures in democracies, the power of the Internet to sway elections and directly influence policies are all obvious and widely commented upon.

Equally significant is the role of the Internet in creating global initiatives and global consciousness in a variety of areas–in supporting global movements in civil society; in making borders largely irrelevant in the transmission of information–importantly including images and direct communications; in allowing for the extremely low cost and largely frictionless sharing of experiences, good practices and how to’s in the whole range of areas…

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Decelebration (NWO)

New Word Order (NWO) Addendum:



1. The transformation (sometimes very sudden) of a celebration into something opposite such as a disaster or panic: a rapid decelebration of the Boston Marathon occurred following the explosion of IEDs.

Image by Aaron Tang (wikimedia)

Photo by Aaron Tang (via Wikimedia Commons)

PR comments:

First of all, the bombing of the 2013 Boston Marathon was outrageous. Sickening. Eff-ed up. It was an act of terrorism. But President Obama’s initial comment called it an act of  cowardice.”  It has become fashionable for politicians to call terrorists cowards.  Terrorists can be called a lot of things — murderers, psychopaths, monsters, flaming assholes — but cowards?  I wonder. . .  That particular accusation may say more about the source than the intended target.

I’m categorically opposed to terrorism, of course; but the better we understand it, the better we may become at averting it. I think it is fair to say that most terrorist acts are prompted by deeply-felt grievances or grudges that fester and develop into violent obsessions or compulsions when no better method of seeking attention, redress, or justice seems to be available (in their own view at least) to a particular group or individual.  Their perception may be rational or irrational depending on the circumstances, but the label of  “cowardice,” considering the grave personal risk usually involved to a perpetrator, is probably not apropos in any case.  What’s more likely, IMO, is that critics who fail to question or to consider their own roles in creating (or ignoring) the conditions and circumstances contributing to such extreme grievances (and the lack of adequate opportunities or better means for their non-violent, lawful resolution) might be demonstrating some kind of political, moral, or intellectual cowardice.

Second:  Numerous politicians, pundits, and other assorted mental masturbators have said things like “Americans refuse to be terrorized.”


Martial law, warrantless searches, militarized police forces, mass surveillance, kangaroo courts, state-condoned torture, and too many other suspensions of civil rights and due process to list here would argue otherwise. In fact, it is all too obvious that a great many Americans (especially those who seek security at the expense of free speech, free association, privacy, due process, and democracy itself) are not only cowards — they are anti-American assholes who are too timid and/or too stupid for democracy.

We can’t simply put this down to incompetent and/or corrupt political, civic, and moral leadership. It is fair to say that the US has become a virtual Plutocracy or Oligarchy, but when bad leadership is as pervasive and prolonged as it has become in the US, the contribution and complicity of the general public can not be ignored.

“We have met the Enemy and He is Us.”  –Walt Kelly, Pogo

Pogo - Earth Day 1971 poster

Pogo – Earth Day 1971 poster (Wikipedia)

Happy Earth Day . . .


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