Silk Road founder given life prison sentence

The locking up of one of bitcoin’s unsavoury past associations is yet another step forward in the crypto-currency’s quest for legitimacy.

Ross Ulbricht, the founder of Silk Road, the online illegal drug marketplace, has been sentences to life in prison in the US without parole.

He was found guilty on the charges of conspiracy to commit drug trafficking, computer hacking and money laundering.

Silk Road was one of the biggest factors contributing to bitcoin’s negative reputation early on. The marketplace’s users used the crypto-currency to purchase the whole gamut of illegal products, from drugs to fake passports and IDs.

That criminal association, coupled with numerous cases of thefts and other security breaches, significantly slowed down bitcoin’s progress towards goal of achieving legitimacy and mainstream adoption.

The imprisonment of Ross Ulbricht, who will serve a sentence the severity of which no one quite expected, is therefore a cathartic moment for those who see potential in the currency. It closes the chapter on its dark origins.

It is another piece of good news in what has been a very good year for the crypto-currency. There has been a strong trend of bitcoin companies striving harder to be treated as legitimate financial institutions. Last week, the start-up Xapo formed a new advisory board and made some Wall Street heavyweights, including Visa Founder Dee Hock, its first members. Before that, the New York Stock Exchange introduced the first bitcoin exchange index (NYXBT).

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