A recent story published by Bloomberg reports that Bitcoin usage by pedophiles is on the rise.
While the use of a potentially anonymous digital currency by the scum of the online world has been long predicted, the Internet Watch Foundation was able to point to some specific statistics in their recent report on payment methods for child pornography online. Although e-gold and Liberty Reserve were somewhat popular options for online criminals in the past, it seems that Bitcoin is quickly becoming the currency of choice for pedophiles.
Statistics from the Internet Watch Foundation
The Internet Watch Foundation has found nearly 200 different websites that accept Bitcoin as a payment option for child pornography, and they've also seen more than 30 of those sites accept Bitcoin as the only means of payment. It makes sense for peddlers of child pornography to push Bitcoin as a payment method onto their customers due to the higher level of privacy it offers the persons behind the server filled with hideous images of child exploitation. In addition to Bitcoin, other experts in cybercrime have noted that payment options such as Ukash and Paysafecard can provide a bit more anonymity to users than more traditional payment options such as PayPal or credit cards.
What is the Proper Response?
While it's obvious that child pornography is the absolute worst content that one can come across on the Internet, the fact of the matter is that limiting technological advancements is never a correct response when it turns out that the bad guys are using these new tools to their advantage. If you make the argument that the fact Bitcoin is being used for payments related to purchases of child pornography means that the digital currency should be shutdown, then you should also be making the same argument for the shutdown of the Internet itself, and most of the tools that we use every day. With any new technology, you're always going to have to take the good with the bad. Law enforcement will simply have to do the best they can with traditional methods of crime prevention because the logical conclusion of the other side of the argument is a tyrannical government.
Images by FBI/Wikimedia Commons and Shutterstock.