Digital anarchy and games with the state still end badly for activists without rules.

So, the creator of Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, was sentenced to life imprisonment by the US authorities in May 2015. Ordinary users and human rights activists were shocked: at first glance, a harmless young guy with an immense desire for freedom is actually put in a cage for the rest of his life.

But there is also a harsh warning to everyone else: for creating uncontrolled sites that endanger thousands of other people’s lives, the punishment is severe. Even if you’re just writing code and administering the infrastructure.

In reality, no one really knows how many tons of drugs, gigabytes of child porn, weapons or forged documents, stolen credit card numbers and even murder orders have passed through this platform. It is clear that the phenomena themselves existed before Silk Road and continue to exist without it. But it is obvious that such a project, if it does not encourage such actions, then it certainly facilitates the implementation of the intruders’ intentions

A subtle ethical question arises, to which there is no unambiguous answer.

The problem is not that very smart guys create an illegal platform for the same advanced and free as themselves. The problem is that they open it up to everyone, giving additional incentives and opportunities to do dark things: sell weapons, produce drugs, shoot child porn, organize murders. Sitting in comfortable conditions behind the monitor, you cannot see the horrors and suffering that their activities can provoke.

On the other hand, why should the states themselves and their special services not use such sites as more or less illuminated zones where it is possible to conduct operational investigative activities, keep records of criminals and catch them out of this murky water. After all, by simply closing the site, the problem was not solved, but they simply pushed the unscrupulous businessmen out again, now into a completely invisible area. Yes, someone will stop there, but the hardened criminals will obviously not retire, but simply find other channels of communication and sales.

There are versions that the creators of some services for TOR networks are just connected with the special services, which helps to compile a database of violators and at the right time to make a series of arrests. For example, the creator of the search engine Grams is not identified in any way and is unknown, which should cause users of such services to be wary. We should also not forget that the Tor network was originally created by order of US government agencies, and one can only guess about the degree of their influence on the current situation.

But these are subtle games at depth – on the surface, attempts to tighten control over the Internet at the legislative and technical levels are visible.