02 Oct '13, 10pm

How can the police seize Bitcoins?

When the FBI seized alleged Silk Road mastermind Ross Ulbricht's 26,000 Bitcoin fortune on Tuesday, it raised the simple question: how can you seize a currency that does not exist? The Bitcoin haul, worth around $3.6m, represents the largest single seizure of the currency, which exists entirely online. Jon Matonis, executive director of the lobby group the Bitcoin Foundation, said that in order for the authorities to "seize" Silk Road's Bitcoins, it would need access to either its servers and/or to the passwords that protected those Bitcoins. The agency could have accessed those passwords with or without Ulbricht's cooperation, said Jerry Brito, director of George Mason University's Technology Police Program. "Basically they would have to get the private keys to the suspect's Bitcoin addresses. (Think of it essentially like getting the password to an account.)," Brito wrot...

Full article: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/oct/02/bitcoin...

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The FBI can't seize Ulbricht's Bitcoin fortune because it's encrypted.

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