With the story of the deep web encrypted site The Silk Road hitting such high profile sites as Wired and Gawker last week, you knew it was only a matter of time before the US Senate started looking into things like Bitcoin, the decentralized, nearly untraceable cryptocurrency.
As of this week, Senators Charles Schumer and Joe Manchin wrote a letter addressed to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and DEA head Michele Leonhart expressing their concerns about Bitcoin, based directly on the Silk Road article.
“The only method of payment for these illegal purchases is an untraceable peer-to-peer currency known as Bitcoins. After purchasing Bitcoins through an exchange, a user can create an account on Silk Road and start purchasing illegal drugs from individuals around the world and have them delivered to their homes within days,” the senators’ letter states. “We urge you to take immediate action and shut down the Silk Road network.”
The DEA is “absolutely” concerned about Bitcoins and other anonymous digital currencies, agency spokeswoman Dawn Dearden said when asked for a response to the senators’ concerns.
“The DEA is constantly evaluating and analyzing new technologies and schemes perpetrated by drug trafficking networks. While we won’t confirm or deny the existence of specific investigations, DEA is well aware of these emerging threats and we will act accordingly,” she said.
Taking down The Silk Road might be a bit more difficult than these Senators realize, and taking down Bitcoin isn’t likely right now either. But the chokepoint are the legitimate banks— when you use your credit or debit card to exchange for Bitcoins, that’s where they could nip things in the bud.