"The battle for the Web’s drug corner is on," writes Andy Greenberg in a new Forbes article, Meet The Dread Pirate Roberts, The Man Behind Booming Black Market Drug Website Silk Road.
Business is booming for the online drug-seller. "Roberts’ eBay-like service was grossing $1.2 million a month in the first half of 2012. Since then the site has doubled its product listings, and revenue now hits an annual run-rate of $30 million to $45 million by FORBES’ estimate," the article notes.
The website operator credits Bitcoin, which bills itself as "an innovative payment network and a new kind of money."
“We’re talking about the potential for a monumental shift in the power structure of the world,” Roberts writes. “The people now can control the flow and distribution of information and the flow of money. Sector by sector the State is being cut out of the equation and power is being returned to the individual.”
Of course, Roberts’ lofty words on individual liberties provide a convenient veneer to justify his profitable business selling illegal, dangerous and addictive substances. But Roberts argues that if his users want heroin and crack, they should have the freedom to buy it and deal with the consequences. Unlike other Bitcoin-based underground sites, Silk Road bans all but what Roberts defines as victimless contraband. He won’t permit the sale of child pornography, stolen goods or weapons, though the latter is a gray area. The site has experimented with selling guns and may yet reintroduce them, Roberts says.