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Bitcoin Government News

Early Bitcoin User Interviewed By Federal Officers 92

MrBingoBoingo (3481277) writes Recently a Bitcoin user reports being interviewed over their past use of a now defunct exchange service by agents from the FBI and Treasury Department. This encounter raises concerns that earlier Bitcoin users who entered the space inocuously and without ties to Dark Markets or The Silk Road might need to prepare for Law Enforcement questioning about their early Bitcoin related activities.
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Early Bitcoin User Interviewed By Federal Officers

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  • No Sweat (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @04:24AM (#47754737)

    Preparing for Law Enforcement questioning is no big deal:

    Be unfailingly polite, and DON'T ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS! You are not required to answer any questions.

    Don't be Ein Dickus Maximus about it, don't stick a camera in their snouts, just don't answer.

    Freedom in action.

  • by bradley13 ( 1118935 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @04:39AM (#47754771) Homepage

    This guy actually talked to the federal agents who came knocking on his door? Stupid, stupid...

    Assuming these were probably FBI or Secret Service agents, my understanding is that the only record allowed of the interview consists of their handwritten notes. You are not allowed to make a recording. This means that, afterwards, they can put any spin on the interview that they want. If you disagree, they can and will throw you in jail for lying to a federal officer.

    The only possible reply to these officers should be "I have nothing to say to you".

  • by aix tom ( 902140 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @05:26AM (#47754877)

    No. Capitalist America. They must do everything in their power, that the government of the money, by the money, for the money shall not perish from the earth.

  • by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @05:36AM (#47754911) Journal

    America used to be a country which respects the Rule of Law

    No more !

    Nowadays the government of the United States of America can lie to the congress, can trample the rights of the citizens, can haul up people without any valid reason, in fact, it can do anything it likes --- and we have you, Sir, and your fellow fascists, to thank !

  • by qbast ( 1265706 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @06:54AM (#47755163)
    Really? If as you suggest they are willing to lie in their notes, what exactly is stopping them from turning "I have nothing to say to you" into long and detailed confession?
  • by philip.paradis ( 2580427 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @07:00AM (#47755185)

    If you had any sense, you'd understand that regardless of the reason(s) you've found yourself interacting with the police, the only sensible course of action would be to have all communications handled by your lawyer(s). Don't worry, you're far from alone in your lack of sense, and that is precisely why fairly rudimentary law enforcement pressure (rightly or wrongly) works as often as it does.

  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @08:32AM (#47755569) Homepage

    so they were on a fishing expedition to see if they could find anything good/relating to the silk road stuff. In all honesty, it sounded like due diligence to me

    No, as you say, it's a fishing expedition.

    Sorry, officer, do you have some evidence of wrong doing on my behalf, or are you just asking around to see if you can find out anything you can use?

    The answer, in both cases, is talk to my lawyer and come back with a warrant. Because when the police are on a fishing expedition, the last place you want to be is innocently answering questions they'll twist against you.

    With parallel construction and every other dirty trick law enforcement is using, you have to start from the premise they're either lying to you, or hoping you'll slip up. Because, quite frankly, they probably are.

    Even if there's no evidence you committed a crime or otherwise broke the law, you're still quite likely to get screwed over. Answering open ended questions is a terrible idea, because they're just as likely to use it to fabricate something about you.

    Law enforcement is no longer trustworthy. Stop treating them like they are. Even if they're smiling at you, they're probably hostile to your best interests.

  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @08:45AM (#47755657) Homepage

    In an age of "parallel construction", you more or less have to assume that law enforcement has tools available to them to do exactly that -- or at least concoct enough evidence to make the confession irrelevant.

    As soon as they started doing that, law enforcement became an entity which will lie and construct a new set of facts to match their story.

    I would suggest that you more or less have to assume they're not trustworthy, and are willing to perjure themselves in court to say "why yes, your honor, that's how we found this information".

    Parallel construction is basically a systematized way that law enforcement can illegally use information, and with no probably cause construct a scenario where it looks plausible on paper that they found it through legitimate means.

    Trusting law enforcement at this point would be madness.

  • by nbauman ( 624611 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @09:11AM (#47755821) Homepage Journal

    If the police catches a car thief, they will likely visit anyone buying a car from him. They can't know that you bought his car that he purchased before he started his thieving career, or the car which he purchased himself with money he made from thieving (which would then be legally yours, unlike a stolen car that you bought off the thief), until they ask you.

    That's the purpose of interviewing that man - to figure out if he had anything to do with illegal activities or not. Apparently he didn't. So what's the problem?

    The problem is that very often someone who thinks he is (or is) completely innocent will talk to the cops, and as a result the cops decide he's committed a crime, prosecute him, and he goes to jail. Here's an example [] of the scientist Thomas Butler.

    Notice that the cops can lie to you, but if you lie to them, you're committing a crime (and a lot of people went to jail for lying to cops, including the roommates of the Boston bomber).

    On Youtube there's a lecture by a law professor about why you should never talk to the cops without a lawyer present, even if you're innocent (and certainly not if you're guilty). He gave many scenarios, based on real cases, about how that has gotten people convicted of crimes, even falsely.

    For example, suppose you go to Pigtown, buy a bottle of milk in the grocery store, and go home. Somebody gets shot around that time in Pigtown. The cops ask you whether you were in Pigtown that day. You say yes.

    Then the cops show your picture to Mary Misidentification, who honestly but wrongly thinks that she saw you shoot the guy. You go to court. The cops use your admission to prove that you were in Pigtown that day. They use Mary's testimony that she saw you shoot the guy. Put those together and they send you to jail.

    In the Bitcoin case, you may have done something that you think was legal, but was actually a crime. (Or something that they could interpret as a crime.) If you kept your mouth shut, the FBI wouldn't even know about it. But if you admit to doing it, that's a confession, and it's an easy conviction for them. You won't even get a chance to plea bargain.

    Unless a crime was committed against you or somebody you're concerned about, talking to the cops can't do you any good, and it can do you harm. So it's foolish to do it.

    It's too bad, but the cops are acting like pigs, so you can't do it.

  • by Moral Judgement ( 2865819 ) on Tuesday August 26, 2014 @10:25AM (#47756491)
    I don't think the rule of law is merely following the rules, whatever they may be. I think rather that the rule of law requires several features; equality, generality and certainty and the procedural features that facilitate these, as well as maybe a few others if you human believe rights are a necessary feature (I don't but whatever). I think there is an equivocation going on, similar to what happens with due process. I don't think you can say, "Sure my policy for the execution of American's without trial follows due process. I'm the President and I decide- that's the process." (well unfortunately you can, but that's another matter). Similarly I don't think you can say "Sure the power for NSA to get secret warrants from secret courts follows the rule of law; the law says they can."
    While I agree that there are many laws which are unjust, I also think that there is a worrying departure from the rule of law in the US. Most obvious examples are Richard Nixon's "It's not a crime when the president does it.", secret courts, calls to have Julian Assange executed or arrested under the espionage act (despite the fact that as a non US citizen it doesn't apply to him), warrant-less wiretapping, the NSA's wholesale data collection policies... I would contrast these with for example, Drug Laws, which certainly cause much harm and unnecessary suffering and expenditure. These are unjust, but wholly within the remit of the rule of law.

Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap; it will be dear to you. -- Thomas Jefferson