Reports have it the National Security Agency (NSA) has been monitoring Bitcoin with the aim of identifying users of the digital currency and Blockchain in general. The report was released by intercept yesterday, and the news media has classified documents from a US whistleblower Edward Snowden. According to the report, Bitcoin surveillance remains a priority to NSA.
This news has come at a crucial time when the US government has stated that its concerned by the illicit use of digital currencies, especially in terrorism financing and also money laundering. The government has been looking for various ways to control the digital currencies without negatively affecting the market.
The tabled documents further show that NSA’s aim may go beyond just tracking Bitcoins public ledger. It may be targeting to locate users with the agency who are actively analyzing global internet traffic and also the use of scraping software which can offer anonymity to internet users. A good example is one report from NSA which stated that they had collected private information like user passwords, device identifiers, and internet activities.
The report further details that NSA has been monitoring internet activities for Bitcoin users since 2013 using a program which has a code name called OAKSTAR. More information indicates that with MONKEYROCKET which is a sub-program of oakstar the agency may be coming closer to identifying people who initiate cryptocurrency transactions.
According to one memo: “SSG11 analysts have identified in monkeyrocket access to help all the senders and receivers of Bitcoin.” The leaked documents have also provided a hint that NSA may be using XKeyScore system to check and investigate all the users’ information. This is a very powerful internet monitoring system which was first used in 2013 when Snowden obtained classified documents about the surveillance activities by NSA.
According to the surveillance NSA has stored the obtained information in a file known as Provider user full scv. This has been mainly to enable the agency to identify and locate their specific targets. Even though they are yet to state their main aim, the data could be used to track tax evaders while still monitoring illegal activities within the virtual currency.