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The FBI Could Use Rule 41 To Hack Any Bitcoin or Tor User

by on August 28, 2016

Bitcoin has been facing a lot of scrutiny from government officials all over the world. The FBI is not too keen on Bitcoin users either as can be seen from their revised Rule 41 proposal. This stems forth from assuming cryptocurrency is anonymous and used for terrorism funding, which is not the case. But the FBI is looking to take things one step further. That is, assuming US Congress doesn’t stop it.

The legislative proposal in questions is called Rule 41. If these changes are approved, the FBI can use one single warrant to hack an unlimited number of computer round the world. This is not something anyone should be looking forward to, as it would end user privacy.

The FBI has some primary targets in mind for their mass hacking spree. First of all, Tor users will be targeted. Anyone who uses anonymity software must be hiding something in the eyes of law enforcement. While this is far from the case, law enforcement agencies and Tor have always been on opposite ends.

But the biggest “culprits who deserve to be hacked” are Bitcoin users.  Cryptocurrency has often been associated with illegal activity. Thanks to platforms such as Silk Road and Sheep Marketplace, that image will always be associated with Bitcoin. But over the years, the cryptocurrency has gained a global appeal.

Rule 41 Is An Abomination, Plain and Simple

To put it bluntly: Bitcoin holders who use Tor will be royally screwed if this bill passes. Rule 41 is being opposed by privacy advocates and cryptocurrency industry leaders. However, it remains up to the US Congress to put an end to this abomination. Whether or not they will do so, remains to be seen. A lot of government officials want to end user privacy as well, and Rule 41 may see a lot of backing.

Blockchain Alliance Director Jason Weinstein stated:

“It’s ironic that even though criminal and terrorist use of the Internet is rampant – and was from the very beginning – nobody thinks of the Internet as the ‘network of criminals’. Instead, people think of the Internet as a place where we all work, shop, socialize, communicate, consume entertainment and learn. But it’s a measure of the extent of bitcoin’s image problem that every time a cybercriminal commits a ransomware or other cyberattack and happens to use bitcoins as a medium of payment, the case is characterized by the press and policymakers as a bitcoin problem and not an Internet or cybercrime problem.”

US Congress has until December 1 to oppose Rule 41. Although that may seem far away, the date will be upon us much sooner than anticipated. Opposing this proposal needs to be the top priority. It is time to take back our privacy, which should be a basic human right these days. Moreover, it is due time people learn the truth about Bitcoin, and not just what the media decides to tell them.

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock

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