Bitcoiners Slam Calls For Crypto Crackdown After Latest Russia Probe Indictments

After Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein released an indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers yesterday, it didn't take long for Democratic members of Congress to point fingers at bitcoin for supposedly helping enable the "nefarious actors" to secretly pay for servers and other services in furtherance of their scheme to fool the American public.

And as the bitcoin backlash intensified, Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Emanuel Cleaver tweeted that he's been "warning of the potential dangers of bitcoin" and that "the crypto industry needs to step their game up."

Cleaver was referring to sections from the indictment that described how the hackers used cryptocurrency to pay for fake accounts and servers in furtherance of their scheme.

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A surprising amount of space in the legal document was dedicated to recounting how the subjects of the indictment made their bitcoin payments and even mined bitcoin to help finance the operation.

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But Cleaver's claims quickly elicited a flood of tweets from people in the community who were quick to point out that the trail of transactions embedded in the blockchain actually helped investigators pinpoint the people responsible. As one user put it, "Bitcoin is a bad choice for criminals, whether you're a Russian hacker or domestic drug dealer."

It may be impossible for governments to interfere with transactions conducted in bitcoin - meaning they can't stop an illegal activity during the act - but bitcoin "made it easy to track" the suspects after-the-fact.

One twitter user pointed out the irony in Rep. Cleaver's complaints...

and suggested another frame for the narrative.

Of course, some bitcoin critics reveled in the fact that the indictment appeared to mark a new low for the cryptocurrency.

But, in summary:

In terms of tracking the indicted parties, it doesn't appear that bitcoin was any more difficult to trace than simple wire transfers would've been. But that probably won't stop lawmakers like Cleaver calling for it to be banned or for regulators to crack down more heavily than they already have.