The FBI shut down online drug den Silk Road last week, and bitcoin users are less than thrilled about it. In fact, they’re publicly venting their frustration about the federal agency as a result, reports Alex Hern of The Guardian. Over 200 messages protesting the closure of Silk Road have flooded a bitcoin account now controlled by the FBI.
FBI tries to access Silk Road’s bitcoins
According to the newspaper, the agency is currently trying to gain access to the website’s 600,000 bitcoins, which are worth approximately $80 million. Silk Road is a known marketplace for illegal drugs and illicit substances, and it has accepted bitcoins as payment for some time. Bitcoins are currently an untraceable currency.
The 600,000 bitcoins were amassed by Ross Ulbricht, who allegedly created Silk Road. The FBI has apparently already seized about 26,000 of the site’s bitcoins, which had been held for customers in escrow. The agency transferred those bitcoins to a new blockchain.info address, which enables its users to manage their bitcoin accounts. However, it didn’t take long for Silk Road users to identify which account was the FBI’s and then use blockchain to post public messages with tiny transactions, most of which were no bigger than .00000001 of a bitcoin.
A public debate over bitcoins
Some posters to the site claim that the only reason the FBI’s seizure of the bitcoins was because the digital currency isn’t officially recognized by any agency as a currency. Others used their posts to show support for illegal substances, pointing to famous musicians, including the Beagles, who allegedly used illegal drugs.
Some noted that many of the products sold on Silk Road were “perfectly legal,” so the FBI couldn’t know which bitcoins were used to make purchases of legal products and which were not. Still others posted advertisements for services related to the use of bitcoins.
There were also comments about Ulbricht’s choice to not only use a real email address to set up his online drug business, but also to boast about his success through his profile on LinkedIn. These were part of how the FBI was able to track and shut down the website.