A new law introduced in the Netherlands could allow surveillance to tap in the bitcoin network if investigations require it. This puts the anonymity of transactions using the cryptocurrency in question, as this is one of the appealing features of bitcoin.
Last week, the Dutch government released the bill for public consultation, which means that there’s still an opportunity for members of the bitcoin network to weigh in their suggestions. This bill would overhaul the Dutch Intelligence and Security Act of 2002, which covers the regulation of online surveillance.
Bitcoin Network Repercussions
“The services are authorized to, using a technical aid, wiretap, receive, record and listen to any form of telecommunications or data transfer via an automated work [a computerised system] regardless of location.” However, these interceptions must be conducted in a purpose-oriented manner that technical security consultant Matthijs Koot says could “limit the hay stack created using non-specific interception to relevant information.”
With this law, providers of communication services would be required to hand over certain kinds of data that the government might regard as necessary to carry out the interception. According to Koot, this includes technical data of for instance the telecommunications network exploited by the provider, and the equipment used etc., which are necessary to—in consultation with the provider—determine what technical provisions that need to be made to carry out the authorized interception.”
Authorities could also require access to consumers’ metadata, along with automated data analysis of such. Apart from that, intelligence services could also conduct data decryption – something that could be a concern for bitcoin network members. Then again, this could help the cryptocurrency maintain a cleaner reputation and not be dragged into illegal activities and money laundering operations.
Recall that bitcoin owes part of its claim to fame to its rampant usage in online drug marketplace Silk Road and a number of anonymous criminal transactions. By allowing authorities to decrypt data involved in transactions that are allegedly involved in illegal dealings, the bitcoin industry could gain public trust.