Today’s speaker spotlight is a very exciting one that may appeal to a large number of early bitcoin adopters…

Many may not know Lyn Ulbricht, but they have certainly heard of her son Ross, founder of the Silk Road.

For those that don’t know about Silk Road, it was an online black market used for selling illegal drugs, weapons, counterfeit goods, stolen credit cards, and even Hitmen services. The website went live in February of 2011. The Silk Road was famous for it’s hyper security measures, being incredibly hard to access. Furthermore, it ran as a Tor hidden service, meaning all traffic and user activity was 100% anonymous. To strengthen buyer/seller confidence even more, the website accepted bitcoin as a payment to make it harder to trace.

In October 2013, the FBI shut down silk road, and arrested Ross Ulbricht under charges of being the site’s pseudonymous founder “Dread Pirate Roberts”. On 6 November 2013, Silk Road 2.0 came online, run by former administrators of Silk Road. It too was shut down, and the alleged operator was arrested on 6 November 2014 as part of the so-called “Operation Onymous”. Ulbricht was convicted of eight charges related to Silk Road in the U.S. Federal Court in Manhattan and was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.

Ross was arrested in an undercover operation in San Francisco on October 2, 2013 and was charged with:
Possession with intent to distribute controlled substances (dropped in sentencing)
Distribution of narcotics by means of the internet
Narcotics trafficking conspiracy (dropped in sentencing)
Computer hacking conspiracy
Fake ID trafficking conspiracy
Money laundering conspiracy
Continuing criminal enterprise

Judge Katherine Forrest said she would give Ross “the severest sentence possible.” Restrained by law from issuing the death penalty, she gave him a walking death sentence instead. Ross’s appeal points out “grotesque disparity” between Ross’s life sentence—which is unheard of for a young man with no criminal history and all non-violent charges— and the sentences of other Silk Road defendants.

The controversy in the famous Silk Road story is the fairness of the sentence. Many people believe that multiple privacy rights were violated, and furthermore that incorrect precedence and judgement was used to give Ross his sentence.

Lyn will be speaking at World Crypto Con in Vegas to go more in depth about her memoir of how this all unfolded, Ross’s story, his sentence, and what you can do to help should you choose to side with her story.