Your early darknet drug buys are preserved forever in the blockchain, waiting to be connected to your real identity


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/01/26/public-ledgers-are-public.html


#2

I know somebody that just got a bunch of grant money to work on this. If you were very careful, you will never get caught. Turns out though, most people aren’t very careful.


#3

#4

I always thought the claims that Bitcoin was more anonymous than cash funny and expected at some point to be a huge privacy nightmare for people.

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#5

OK, relax, just have to wait out the statute of limitations on buying drugs.


#6

Just wait until people start tracking down those sexual consent blockchains. I’m sure it’ll result in interesting graphs of who slept with whom, date-stamped.


#7

Assuming you bought them for consumption way back then - they can’t charge you with possession for what you no longer own.

Those guys soliciting illegal service, human trafficking or hit men are still SOL.


#8

You guys are thinking too small when you only think of unmasking Silk road purchases.

People with a real need to clean the pants right now are Chinese investors who are shipping their money out of China to avoid taxation (or confiscation) who have been using bitcoin to avoid government taxes.

It’s going to be a bloodbath in the Chinese financial community when the anonymity of those transactions get cracked.

It’s probably going to be significantly easier for the Chinese government to undo the anonymity of blockchain and bitcoin transactions than it would be for almost anyone else.


#9

The civil libertarian in me is upset that this could be used against someone just because their choice of drug is not condoned by the state…

But, the human in me is kinda excited that this could be used against The sex slaver industry and organized pedophiles …


#10

I’m more excited about this possibility:

If you ransomed someone else’s computer with bitcoin, the blockchain will remember it forever and possibly reveal your identity


#11

When I first read about Bitcoin and how it worked, my first thought was “So transactions are not anonymous and are permanently recorded? This isn’t going to end well.”


#12

Does this mean they could go after the ransomware attackers that caused havoc in UK hospitals etc last year?

I think there are already a number of organizations that specialize in de-anonymization since transactions are all in a public ledger. Untraceability was one of the major advantages of bitcoin, but apparently not so anonymous.


#13

I read of a case almost a decade ago, when a 15 year old kid who found out he was from a sperm donor, was able to trace his dna father in only a couple of days, using familial dna and the knowledge that the donor had attended a certain University at a given time.


#14

People who bought drugs with bitcoin a while ago are still biting their own arse because the 0.5 grams for 0.5 bitcoin seemed like a bargain at the time…


#15

This week’s Reply All podcast has an entertaining example of this, that’s worth a listen.


#16

It wasn’t meant to be anonymous, was it? Isn’t permanent recording the whole point of the blockchain?


#17

Right but the early hype was all how private the whole thing despite it being just barely pseudo-anonymous.

It has been fun watching all the anarcho capitalists jumping bitcoin as some big solution to all the evils of fiat currency and somehow missing most of the shit everybody else learned over the past few hundred years of money.


#18

Wasn’t the popularity of bitcoin by ransomware hackers and others, precisely because it was untraceable?


#19

How much of the value of Bitcoin is based on its anonymity?

I think we are going to find out… Anonymity was certainly sold as a unique utility. And it was “utilized” by a large segment of their customers. ( lawsuits ? )

Has it evolved past that? Is its utility now broad enough and still unique enough to keep it growing?


#20

It’s not untraceable, but it is anonymous. The problem is a lot of people used the anonymous Bitcoin to buy illegal substances and then used the same, entirely traceable account to buy a new laptop (for instance) from amazon. One can find the details (shipping address, etc.) of the second purchase and connect that to the first purchase.

The traceability of the bitcoins is one of the features of the Blockchain. It makes manipulation of the currency difficult to hide. Financial auditing has full information when they look at what has gone on for the entire history of the Bitcoin chain. The account is anonymous, but all the transactions are out in the open.

Nothing stops you from making many accounts though, to keep different types of purchases separate.