Coming to EPIX this Sunday, May 31: DEEP WEB
Alex Winter’s exploration of digital freedom under government attack had its world premiere at SXSW this Spring. It has since gone on to screen at Full Frame, San Francisco, Hot Docs, and Montclair.
As indicated by its title, Alex Winter’s documentary explores the Internet that most people wouldn’t know how to find, a place where users seeking anonymity have been able to carve out a black market cottage industry selling illicit items via seemingly untraceable browsers and currency. The specific focus of the film is the Silk Road, a “Darknet” marketplace which made the buying and selling of drugs a turnkey process until the federal government used dubious means to track down and arrest its administrator, known on the site simply as Dread Pirate Roberts, but infamously identified by authorities as Ross Ulbricht, an unassuming Libertarian who ran an upcycling business in Austin. While tracing the story of the rise and fall of the Silk Road, and of Ulbricht’s then-pending trial, Winter’s film offers a concise but surprisingly cogent, and bracingly provocative, crash course in the libertarian tenets that underpinned the site and its users’ strong stance on the necessity for encryption and privacy in the face of ever-encroaching government surveillance and unaccountability – not only for the deep corners of the Internet, but for all users.