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Digital Currency, Bitcoin And The Dark Web

Bitcoin and virtual currencies in the spotlight on Capitol Hill. We’ll look at the new world of digital money and the issues that come with it.

This April 3, 2013 photo shows bitcoin tokens at 35-year-old software engineer Mike Caldwell's shop in Sandy, Utah. Caldwell mints physical versions of bitcoins, cranking out homemade tokens with codes protected by tamper-proof holographic seals, a retro-futuristic kind of prepaid cash. With up to 70,000 transactions each day over the past month, bitcoins have been propelled from the world of Internet oddities to the cusp of mainstream use, a remarkable breakthrough for a currency which made its online debut only four years ago. (AP)

This April 3, 2013 photo shows bitcoin tokens at 35-year-old software engineer Mike Caldwell’s shop in Sandy, Utah. Caldwell mints physical versions of bitcoins. Bitcoins have been propelled from the world of Internet oddities to the cusp of mainstream use, a remarkable breakthrough for a currency which made its online debut only four years ago. (AP)

 

Bitcoin is all over headlines this week.  The virtual currency – digital money – that can buy you anything, if you know where to go, from a bag of groceries to a bag of heroin.  The Winklevoss twins are into it – big investors.  The Chinese are into it – it’s kind of anonymous and not the dollar.  The Silk Road was into it – the online emporium for sex and drugs that took only bitcoin.  This week Ben Bernanke said banks may one day use it.  Four years ago, it was worth a buck.  This week, it briefly hit $900 dollars.  Per bitcoin.  Up next On Point:  the crypto currency.  All about bitcoin.

— Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Andy Greenberg technology, privacy, and information security reporter at Forbes Magazine. Author of “This Machine Kills Secrets: How WikiLeakers, Cypherpunks, and Hacktivists Aim to Free the World’s Information.” (@A_Greenberg)

Robin Sidel, senior special writer at The Wall Street Journal.

Susan Athey, professor of economics at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. Senior Fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economics Policy Research.

Sen. Tom Carper, U.S. Senator. (D-Delaware). (@SenatorCarper)

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal: U.S. Officials Set to Address Bitcoin at Senate Hearing — “Officials from the U.S. Secret Service, which investigates counterfeit currencies, and the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network made similar remarks, detailing successful criminal investigations into virtual currencies and the need to ensure that companies that deal in bitcoin comply with money-laundering rules where appropriate. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, who isn’t testifying Monday, said in a letter to the Senate committee that while virtual currencies ‘may pose risks related to law enforcement and supervisory matters, there are also areas in which they may hold long-term promise, particularly if the innovations promote a faster, more secure, and more efficient payment system.'”

Forbes: Meet The ‘Assassination Market’ Creator Who’s Crowdfunding Murder With Bitcoins –“Like other so-called ‘dark web’ sites, Assassination Market runs on the anonymity network Tor, which is designed to prevent anyone from identifying the site’s users or Sanjuro himself. Sanjuro’s decision to accept only Bitcoins is also intended to protect users, Sanjuro, and any potential assassins from being identified through their financial transactions. Bitcoins, after all, can be sent and received without necessarily tying them to any real-world identity. In the site’s instructions to users, Sanjuro suggests they run their funds through a “laundry” service to make sure the coins are anonymized before contributing them to anyone’s murder fund.”

The New Yorker: Dark Wallet: A Radical Way To Bitcoin — “Wilson and Taaki’s project, tentatively known as Dark Wallet, is a simple wallet designed to be easier to use for people who aren’t tech-savvy; they hope that in turn accelerates the currency’s rate of adoption around the world. The wallet will be open-source and free to use. Eventually, Wilson and Taaki hope to create a vast stable of Bitcoin-related tools. The goal, for Wilson, is similar to what he tried to do with the Liberator: use technology to remove government intervention from his life, and from the lives of like-minded people.”

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