The bureau's latest court filing in the case describes how the hidden site accidentally revealed its location to anyone who visited its login page, thanks to a software misconfiguration.
But the technical side of the security community, who have long tracked the dark web's experiments in evading law enforcement, don't buy that simple story. They read the FBI's statement differently: as a carefully worded admission that it didn't knock on the Silk Road's door so much as hack its way in.
As the trial of alleged Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht approaches, his defense has focused on how the government initially discovered the Silk Road's server in Iceland, in spite of the site using the anonymity software Tor to hide its physical location. In a motion filed last month, the defense argued that discovery may have represented a search without a warrant and an illegal violation of Ulbricht's privacy. Then on Friday, the prosecution fired back with a memo claiming that the FBI's investigation had been entirely legal, accompanied by an FBI statement explaining how the server was found.