Russell Brand rips apart the U.S. government’s Silk Road takedown

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“Who does the Internet belong to? Them or us?” comedian, activist, and tight-shirt-wearer Russell Brand asks in his latest video.

Brand is tackling the issue of Silk Road, whose convicted leader Ross Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison just last week.

Brand took great issue with the justification behind Ulbricht’s sentencing and posed an alternative theory: The people who put Ulbricht behind bars aren’t protecting us from drug markets—they’re protecting themselves.

“In a way, Ross Ulbricht is the American dream,” Brand argued. “He’s an entrepreneur, he saw a new market, he went for it. Is that any different from the genesis of Coca Cola, of General Motors, of Phillip Morris?”

All of those companies kill their customers, Brand argues, and there’s little difference between Silk Road and those behemoths of American capitalism.

Brand’s rant is only 5 minutes long, so of course it doesn’t address nearly all the aspects of the Silk Road saga. The most notable omission from Brand’s video are the murder accusations which were uncharged but nevertheless played a large role in Ulbricht’s life sentence.

“Ross Ulbricht, I’m not suggesting he was some sort of brilliant martyr,” Brand said. “But he was using cyberspace and Internet technology in new and interesting ways that the government couldn’t control. That’s why he’s being punished.”

Screenshot via Russell Brand/YouTube

Patrick Howell O'Neill

Patrick Howell O'Neill

Patrick Howell O'Neill is a notable cybersecurity reporter whose work has focused on the dark net, national security, and law enforcement. A former senior writer at the Daily Dot, O'Neill joined CyberScoop in October 2016. I am a cybersecurity journalist at CyberScoop. I cover the security industry, national security and law enforcement.