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Snowden Leak Suggests That the NSA Has Been Monitoring Bitcoin Users for Years

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It’s been five years since Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee, leaked thousands of classified NSA documents to the press. Since then, he has been on the run from the US, and currently holds temporary asylum in Russia. However, it is only now that it has been revealed that some of the files were related to digital tracking; specifically Bitcoin.

What Happened to Bitcoin’s Anonymity?

It would appear that the NSA were, or have been employing a massive data operation to establish identities of a number of Bitcoin holders. To do so, they infiltrated computer systems, gained access to passwords, locations, financial details and IPs, in an attempt to cross-reference the gathered data with Bitcoin and other digital transactions. The operation, named Oakstar, was aimed at countering terrorism, and those who were monitored worldwide were suspected of money laundering at the very least, or activities related to terrorism at worst.

A section of the document, available on The Intercept, reads:

(TS//NF) Met with SSG11 and S2F on the MR access. The following topics were discussed:

  • Checking to see if the DTG/Port?IP Address could be assessed to validate if it hits against the BITCOIN targets
  • Checking to see if the partner does any user validation
  • The relationship between BITCOIN targets and the MONKEYROCKET data
  • Additonal data that is not found in XKS-central, but can be made available to the customer
  • The following files were sent to the customer for analysis: Mac_address.csv, Password_hash_history.csv, Provider user full.csv, User_sessions full.csv

MONKEYROCKET was a program that was used to steal data from Asia and other areas outside the US.

The timing of the leak couldn’t have come at a worse time for regulatory bodies who are moving to crack down on crypto. Indeed, this is more likely to drive users and staunch supporters of decentralization underground, than bring them to the table for rational discussion.

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