The cryptocurrency allows illegal operations with the speed of the internet, but with the secrecy of a cash deal. Bitcoin, heralded as a new way to conduct a broad array of financial transactions, costs about Rs 29,000 apiece but the price fluctuates every day. The home ministry has taken up the security issue with the finance ministry and RBI: in a secret communication it said the currency is being used for crimes, including drug trafficking, illegal arms trade and prostitution in India. According to experts, Bitcoin and the dark web – where sites are hidden from search engines like Google – form a deadly cocktail as it is very tough to trace a user carrying out transactions through specific software. Pawan Duggal, who advises organisations on cyber laws. It became more dangerous when users started using it through the darknet, which can only be accessed by specialised software. While every Bitcoin transaction is public, the parties involved are kept anonymous as addresses can be created without providing any personal information.
The virtual currency has also been used before in ransomware – a type of malware that restricts computer access unless a ransom is paid. We need a close watch on the use of the Bitcoin currency in financial transactions because Bitcoin as the currency of the underground internet is also being used in drug trafficking, illegal arms trade and prostitution. There is a need to have effective regulations regarding the use of Bitcoin. According to a senior Delhi Police officer in the economic offences wing, Bitcoin is fast becoming the preferred choice in illegal transactions.
It has been noticed that people involved in prostitution are sending money from abroad through Bitcoin to various parts of Mumbai, Delhi, etc. Though in India companies seek PAN card details for such transactions, the process is not fool-proof, say experts. One way of bypassing the check is to download a particular software and use it through a hidden network that cannot be traced. Bengaluru Police recently found a trail of Bitcoins used to buy drugs from a dark site. Investigators said three students purchased banned Ecstasy pills from a website, which were delivered by courier.