After attracting attention from law enforcement, financial regulators and old-school Wall Street investors, bitcoin is now on the U.S. military’s radar as a possible terrorist threat.
Friday was the deadline for submissions to a counterterrorism program seeking vendors to help the military understand state-of-the-art technologies that may pose threats to national security, and “bitcoin” and “virtual currencies” are listed among them.
The program is being conducted by the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office, a division of the Department of Defense that identifies and develops counterterrorism abilities and investigates irregular warfare and evolving threats.
An unclassified memo from January unearthed by Bitcoin Magazine detailed solicitations for CTTSO projects. The memo states that one of the mission requirements is for “innovative…solutions to develop and/or enhance new concepts and constructs for understanding the role of virtual currencies” in financing threats against the United States.
The memo said the blurring of national lines is facilitating the transfer of virtual currencies: “The introduction of virtual currency will likely shape threat finance by increasing the opaqueness, transactional velocity, and overall efficiencies of terrorist attacks,” it stated.
At the heart of the concern is the anonymity built into the bitcoin architecture. While every bitcoin transaction is public, the parties involved are kept anonymous. With bitcoins, illegal operations can be made with the speed and ease of the Internet and with the secrecy of cash.
Several recent high-profile cases have put bitcoin under greater scrutiny.