Cryptocurrency, since it’s inception, has had a leg up on other forms of currency because it can be sent seamlessly and does not have many of the restrictions of fiat currency. This has, however, also made it a target for use in illegal or unethical purposes such as the mass use of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on the dark web. There are concerns of cryptocurrency being used to fund various illegal activities such as terrorism and it is rumored that North Korea uses a team of hackers to steal cryptocurrency in order to fund their nuclear weapons program.
Fresh concerns have been brought up by the House Financial Services Committee about the use of cryptocurrency to fund domestic terrorism within the United States.
These concerns were brought to light during a January 15, 2020 hearing by the FSC Subcommittee on National Security, International Development and Monetary Policy about how various institutions can work to end domestic terrorism within the United States. The hearing in question was titled “A Persistent and Evolving Threat: An Examination of the Financing of Domestic Terrorism and Extremism,” and saw five speakers take the stand to discuss the methods through which domestic terrorism is carried out and funded. Cryptocurrency was singled out as one of the prominent methods for funding hate crimes and it was also stated that these acts of terrorism are crowd-funded through social media platforms such as Facebook Twitter and Instagram.
The first speaker to take the stand was Jared Maples, Director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness and he urged US Congress to look into the use of cryptocurrencies for hate crimes and stated that these groups use both cryptocurrencies as well as the sale of counterfeit goods and weapons to fund their activities and will likely continue to do so.
“We cannot discount the future role of cryptocurrencies in funding acts of domestic extremism, both within New Jersey and across the United States,” he said.
According to Rena Miller, specialist in financial economics at the Congressional Research Service, there are new threats to be combated by the US government with regards to domestic terrorism and it has become more complex with the rise of social media and stated that a lot of these supremacy groups tend to be rather decentralized and rely more on cryptocurrency. In order to combat them, the US government is recommended to look into more details that are available via social media and have tighter surveillance on financial records.