The recently intercepted Snowden papers reveal a shocking connection between US government and Bitcoin. It appears that NSA has been keeping a track of some of the Bitcoin traders. This news is evident from a report that’s surfaced from March 2013.
Snowden Paper Leak
Snowden leaked classified documents in March 2013 that contain this intercept. The report points out that NSA has been keeping tabs on bitcoin users globally. In a true spy agency style, the report contains code names and numbers. It also has the cataloging and cross-referencing of data. As a result, this helped them to “track down the senders and receivers of bitcoins,” top secret excerpts reveal. The name of the project was Oakstar, and the initial focus of the project was counter-terrorism.
Furthermore, it doesn’t appear that NSA was targetting people randomly. It seems like they were targetting groups that were using the level of anonymity allowed by bitcoin transactions for clandestine purposes, such as money laundering activities. If you’ve ever wondered what a top-secret NSA entry looks like, here’s a glimpse:
“(NSA agent) is hoping to use the access for their mission of looking at organized crime and cyber targets that utilize online e-currency services to move and launder money. These illicit finance networks provide user access to international monetary systems while providing a high degree of anoymity.”
Apparently, the NSA was able to use sophisticated tools available only to the US spy agency to collect and analyze internet data. Even though bitcoin is not the most anonymous cryptocurrency, it was still the number 1 priority.
Apparently, blockchain being a public ledger did not stop NSA. They apparently gained access to user computer systems, collecting information such as passwords, user sessions, and a media access control address. They also seem to have captured personal info such as billing details and IP addresses. The agency was set on uncovering the connection between what they called “bitcoin targets” and the data they had.
Now, the timing of this news couldn’t be more perfect. Recently, Trump had banned US citizens from investing in Venezuela’s nation cryptocurrency Petro. It could also be just a coincidence. But regardless, the more that the government tries to get its grips on the blockchain movement, the more it seems to only embolden the cryptocurrency community to distance themselves further from the centralized financial system.