Bitcoin cited in Department of Defense terrorism study

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It’s no secret that the U.S. government views bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies with a healthy dose of skepticism. For all of the technological innovations introduced by bitcoin, it’s difficult for any national security-focused agency to not see future threats in a semi-anonymous form of currency that can move vast amounts of money across the world in world in seconds, and which is virtually impossible to seize. Not surprisingly, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has finally shifted its gaze to bitcoin as a possible factor in current and future terrorist threats.

The DOD’s Combatting Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO) is currently researching bitcoin as one of many potentially problematic technologies. The study, which was brought to light on the blog of bitcoin-advocating investment consultant Bruce Fenton, includes bitcoin among a host of other technology keywords. The CTTSO study doesn’t appear to focus on bitcoin, however. Other topics in the vendor-request form include everyday terms such as Android, DNA, robot, social media, virtual reality and wireless.

Given the rapidly growing public awareness of bitcoin, it’s hardly surprising to see increased interest and scrutiny on the topic from the government. Last year, the Department of the Treasury also launched an investigation into virtual currencies, resulting in the conclusion that terrorists “generally need ‘real’ currency, not virtual currency, to pay their expenses.”

There may be another element to this study other than simply preventing bitcoin-related terrorism. Writing for Bitcoin Magazine, Brian Cohen notes a quiet trend towards military bitcoin adoption as a weapon in part of a larger strategy of “financial warfare” advocated by the DOD. The Air Force’s bitcoin “snack machine” bitcoin payment gateway is the most obvious example of this strategy in action.

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