Do you know who uses bitcoin? Terrorists, neo-Nazis, and pedophiles. Not to mention the bogeyman, cyber criminals, and that creepy old guy at the end of your street. All of them are using bitcoin right now to do god-knows-what, but whatever it is you can bet it’s naughty. How do we know this? Because our government says so, and governments would never lie, right?
One Man’s Bitcoiner is Another Man’s Freedom Fighter
Links between terrorism and bitcoin aren’t new; in fact they’re older than the blockchain itself. In response to the then-outlandish notion that major heads of state might be discussing bitcoin, one Bitcointalk forum user , in July 2010: “Those guys still print the Internet and would probably see Bitcoin as a tool of terrorism.”
The first conflation of digital currencies and terrorism actually stems from a 2008 paper in the Richmond Journal of Law and Technology in which the author that “[terrorists] seeking to avoid detection have turned to other methods of transferring money, such as commodities trades, hawala, and digital currencies”. In defining this latter phrase, the report referenced a paper entitled “The Cyber-Front in the War on Terrorism: Curbing Terrorist Use of the Internet”. It was published in 2005.
That’s right, terrorists allegedly using digital currencies is older than bitcoin itself.
Are Terrorists and Other Undesirables Using Bitcoin?
Despite what aging politicians who “still print the internet” will tell you, terrorists aren’t using bitcoin. Okay, so a fraction are, just as a fraction of terrorists are probably drinking cherry Coke or picking their noses right now. As a group, however, terrorists and other undesirables aren’t using bitcoin to evade the law, fund their operations, and bring down society.
Evidence that terrorists and bitcoin don’t mix can be found , but here are some additional reasons why jihadis aren’t turning to the web’s favorite digital currency:
– Bitcoin transactions are easily traceable and far less anonymous than once thought.
– Terrorist expenses – rent; food; weapons – all have to be paid for in fiat, and cashing from BTC to fiat leaves a clear paper trail.
– Bitcoin can be used to buy bad things on the internet, but not to the size and scale that terrorists require. Good luck getting a dozen RPG-7s and Kalashnikovs off the darknet and delivered by Fedex.
– Bitcoin is currently expensive to send – yes, even for terrorists. That $7 fee would keep a Taliban goat-herder in bread and tea for a fortnight.
So no, terrorists aren’t using bitcoin as it stands. But they should. In an ideal world every last terrorist, pedophile, and cyber crook should be using bitcoin.
Why? Because when that happens, we’ll know that bitcoin has made it. When bitcoin has penetrated the shadiest corners of society, that’s when we’ll know it’s conquered all society. By then, bitcoin will have made the world a better place and had a transformative effect that no amount of terrorist adoption can vitiate.
That’s not what your government thinks though. Bitcoin evangelist Andreas Antonopoulos put it best:
What they will tell you is that they’re worried. They’re very worried. They’re worried that criminals will use bitcoin. But the truth is that they’re far more terrified that all of the rest of us will.
Bitcoin needs more bad people using it. Not to do bad things, but because, like air and water, financial freedom should be a basic human right. Just as $20 bills can be used to snort drugs, pay for a hitman, or purchase a bouquet of flowers, bitcoin can be wielded in many ways, some positive, some negative, and some debatable.
As news.Bitcoin.com previously , “If a major terrorist attack funded by bitcoin were to occur, we’d never hear the end of it.”
Until such a time, disregard your government when they conflate bitcoin with terrorism, the same way they conflate encryption, the right to internet privacy, and anything else they can’t control. Politicians can screech all they like, but the public know better.
Pretty soon, the only people using bitcoin will be everyone. Yes, even terrorists.
Do you think politicians are scaremongering when they link bitcoin with terrorism, or do they have genuine concerns? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.
Tired of those other forums on the subject of Bitcoin? Check .Bitcoin.com.