Australia's opposition leader Bill Shorten has suggested that governmental action to deny use of encryption to terrorists should extend to Bitcoin.
In a speech to the House of Representatives yesterday, Shorten fell into lock-step with Australia's plan to compel technology companies to build not-backdoors into their products and services, so that authorities can snoop on any encrypted terrorist plotting.
He then added that “There are two things we simply do not know enough about to deal with properly—I refer to the use of the digital currency bitcoin and the use of the dark web, a network of untraceable online activities and hidden websites, allowing those who wish to stay in the shadows to remain hidden.” He later added “we need to track and target terrorists as they seek to hide and obscure their financial dealings through electronic currencies like bitcoin.”
Shorten, who leads the leftish-of-centre union-linked Australian Labor Party, may have explained his remarks (PDF) when admitting that “things we simply do not know enough”, because Bitcoin does not claim to provide anonymous transactions. Indeed, law enforcement authorities in many nations are confident they can track transactions, if only by logging IP addresses of users. And of course every Bitcoin transaction is conducted, and recorded, in public.
But as the Five Eyes nations eye off a crypto crackdown, anything with the potential to move information or money with even a hint of anonymity looks to be fair game for politicians. And especially politicians like Shorten, who has long sought to ensure his party cannot be labelled as national security laggards. ®