Hundreds of U.S. experts within defense and intelligence agencies are seeking to understand how virtual currencies like Bitcoin could undermine the U.S.’s long-standing ability to disrupt the financial networks of its foes and even permanently upend parts of the global financial system, Newsweek confirmed in a report.
Juan Zarate, senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and also on the board of advisers for Coinbase, told the weekly news magazine that virtual currencies pose a challenge. It runs contrary to the fundamentals of transparency and accountability that have been built over the last three decades to tackle terrorism, human trafficking, money-laundering and many other types of criminal activity.
Is FBI hacking Bitcoin users’ computers?
This new information will inadvertently provide an answer to the suspicion held previously that some agencies of the U.S. government have made moves that suggest Bitcoin users are being targeted for unconfirmed reasons.
There were reports that a revised Rule 41 would allow the FBI to use a single warrant to hack an indefinite number of computers anywhere in the world. The rule, which will offer authorities an expansion of power over taxable pools of hidden assets such as cryptocurrencies, has been a cause for concern over privacy especially for Bitcoiners who use Tor or its equivalent.
Bitcoin Core Developer and Advisor to Coinkite, Peter Todd, previously stated that the FBI wants “zero security systems with zero privacy” despite the fact that they are not separate concepts.
War on terrorism or war on virtual currencies?
The Internal Revenue Service had also sought to have the personal data of millions of users of the Coinbase cryptocurrency exchange, which some experts have said initiated, in a way, the effort to pull digital currencies like Bitcoin into the mainstream. The IRS issued a blanket John Doe summons as part of the investigation.
Zarate notes that the U.S. is particularly concerned that terrorists and other enemies might create a powerful virtual currency that would be untrackable and would not require the global banking system which the U.S. uses to financially starve them.
However, no evidence has been found to prove that America’s enemies have tried to create a virtual currency. Despite an increased ability to access tools to design one in recent years, the effort at hand is to find ways to disrupt any new virtual currencies that might pop up for such criminal use.
According to Joshua Baron, an academic cryptographer and mathematician for RAND Corporation, one of the think tanks working with the U.S. government, the currency’s publicly visible ledger of transactions are too transparent to attract terrorists, criminals or enemies of the state.