Homeland Security's ICE Group Cuts Off Dwolla Bitcoin Transfers

from the no-explanation dept

Update: The DHS has released a copy of the warrant, which claims probable cause to believe that Mt. Gox is engaging in money transmitting without a license.

We've discussed in the past how the government seems very skeptical of Bitcoin, and now it may be doing something about it. As a whole bunch of you have sent in, ICE (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement), a division of Homeland Security -- best known around here for its cowboy attitude towards censoring websites with no basis -- has cut off Dwolla transfers to Mt. Gox, the biggest Bitcoin exchange, preventing Dwolla from processing any Bitcoin transfers. According to Declan McCullagh at News.com:
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security confirmed it has initiated legal action that prompted the Dwolla payment service to stop processing bitcoin transactions.

Nicole Navas, a spokesperson for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, confirmed the legal action to CNET this afternoon.
Chris Coyne, from Ok Cupid, posted a screenshot of an email from Dwolla claiming that ICE had "seized" the account of Mt. Gox:
Mt. Gox, for its part, claims this is the first it's heard of anything:
MtGox has read on the Internet that the United States Department of Homeland Security had a court order and/or warrant issued from the United States District Court in Maryland which it served upon the Dwolla mobile payment service with respect to accounts used for trading with MtGox. We take this information seriously. However, as of this time we have not been provided with a copy of the court order and/or warrant, and do not know its scope and/or the reasons for its issuance. MtGox is investigating and will provide further reports when additional information becomes known.
I would imagine there will be a lot more to this story, but for the moment details are scarce.

Filed Under: bitcoin, homeland security, ice
Companies: dwolla, mt gox

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  1. icon
    Lorpius Prime (profile), 16 May 2013 @ 6:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Centrally controlled fiat currencies are a pyramid scheme

    That's not preserving wealth, though, that's risking it. It's an important and valuable thing, to be sure, but there should be some way of being able to hold on to what you've earned without risk.

    Why? Value isn't static. Think about pre-currency economies running on barter. Cows are still the primary means of exchange in a lot of east African communities. How do you preserve the value of a herd of cattle? You can't just lock them in a pen for as long as you want, they'll die and begin to rot. You'll have to care for them yourself, or lend or sell them on to someone else in return for something else, such as a contract for future goods or services.

    There's no good reason that anyone should expect currency-based economies to function any differently at a fundamental level. Trying to lock up wealth into no-risk hoards is a recipe for stagnancy at best, and we're all be better off with the vitality of constantly fluctuating credit markets. Yes, there is uncertainty and risk from having to invest your savings, but that's simply a reflection of the nature of life and reality, the world around us is constantly changing and we could all die tomorrow. At the moment, the best we can do is pretend that some assets are risk free, such as with insured deposits. But the truth is that such schemes merely move the risk around so that it's borne by other parties, such as governments or private insurers. Even precious metals aren't risk-free, you're counting on other investors and metal brokers to keep up the price for you.

    Without that ability, we are all but indentured servants.

    Indentured to our own need for scarce resources in order to survive, perhaps. But there's no financial scheme at all which can hope to solve that, it's the fundamental economic problem. There's just no way out until our production becomes unlimited.

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