— The Erimtan Angle —

‘Alex Winter rose to prominence in the 1980s, starring in hit films like Lost Boys and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. He later turned to writing, producing and directing, and has since directed Downloaded, the acclaimed documentary about the rise and fall of Napster, as well as his most recent effort, Deep Web, the Untold Story of Bitcoin and the Silk Road. In this interview, Winter and The Young Turks’ Cenk Uygur discuss:

– The origins of the Deep Web and Darknet as a haven for government agents, dissidents, activists and artists

– The parallels between the rise and fall of Napster and Silk Road

– How the Silk Road became the eBay of virtual drug sales

– The mix of libertarian absolutists, anti-drug warriors and high tech mercenaries who drove the Deep Web’s growth

– How manipulation by corrupt cops and DEA agents could have brought down the Silk Road

– The government’s “weird” case claiming accused Silk Road administrator Matt Ulbricht is the notorious “Dread Pirate Roberts”

– Are government investigators technologically incompetent or just lying to us?

– Cenk’s decisive guilty or not guilty vote in Ross Ulbricht’s criminal case (14 May 2015)’.

Last February, Nicky Woolf from New York writes in the Guardian that “Ross Ulbricht faces up to life in prison after being found guilty of ‘aiding and abetting the distribution of drugs over the internet’ and other charges”.[1]  And in an attempt to present a somewhat fair picture of the case, Woolf adds that “Ulbricht had conceded that he created Silk Road, which his defence team had said was intended as a ‘freewheeling, free-market site’ where all but a few harmful items could be sold. They argued that the ‘economic experiment’ became too stressful for him, so he handed it to others before being lured back. Joshua Dratel, Ulbricht’s lawyer, had tried to raise questions in jurors’ minds about whether someone else had been operating Silk Road, such as [Mark Karpelès, the founder of bitcoin exchange Mt Gox], who was never charged and has denied involvement. Although a federal agent told jurors he had been investigating Karpelès, the judge, Katherine Forrest, struck out much of that testimony as improper. Ulbricht faces up to life in prison and a minimum term of 20 years. His sentencing was scheduled for 15 May, although his defence team signalled he would appeal”.[2]  But Alex Winter, who describes himself as “Filmmaker, actor, dad, etc. Made these (among other things): @DeepWebMovie @DownloadedDoc” on his twitter-page, in his movie seems to spin quite another tale.[3]

[1] Nicky Woolf, “Silk Road’s ‘Dread Pirate Roberts’ convicted of running online drug marketplace” The Guardian (05 Feb 2015). http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/feb/04/silk-road-ross-ulbricht-convicted-drug-charges.

[2] Nicky Woolf, “Silk Road’s ‘Dread Pirate Roberts’ convicted”.

[3] “Alex Winter” Twitter. https://twitter.com/alxwinter.

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