This is a tragic story. Anna Skelly came home from holiday with her husband to find her son dead on her bed after what looks to be a bad reaction to cocaine. Cocaine which he reportedly acquired from an online drug marketplace, financed by Bitcoin transactions. Now the Sydney mother is going on a crusade against the crypto-currency, calling on the Federal Government to ban it in Australia.
Anna Skelly has launched her own change.org petition to have Bitcoin banned in Australia.
"Tony Abbott," the petition starts, "commence an inquiry into Bitcoin - it's protecting drug dealers."
Rather than mine some Bitcoins to go spend online, Daniel reportedly paid money into the bank account of Cryptospend: a sort of proxy service for buying Bitcoin-related products.
Cryptospend allows you to deposit real money into an account and place an order saying what you want from an online store before the site from which you purchased it delivers the items straight to your door. In this case, that delivery was drugs.
Following the transaction history, Mrs Skelly is calling for the anonymity behind Bitcoin transactions to be removed, or for the currency to be banned in Australia altogether:
"On the 5th November 2013 my 21 year old son purchased drugs online by making a cash deposit at NAB Warriewood, into an account called Cryptospend, as instructed by of Cryptospend Australia Pty Ltd, Brisbane. This company withdrew from the U.S. following regulatory pressure and has now established in Australia. It is marketing its services ostensibly as a bitcoin currency exchange service via the web.
My son made the payment to Cryptospend on the Tuesday and on Friday he received alduterated [sic] drugs delivered to our home in express post envelopes which killed him.
Despite insisting that his business only operates a currency exchange service for bitcoin, I believe Mr Jeremy West is happy to also profit from facilitating the online drug trade and uses push marketing in emails. It is only who knows to which dealer’s account my son’s payment actually went."
Concerned parents make the world go around in a society largely scared of technology it doesn't understand, but I'm worried that Mrs. Skelly is pointing the finger at the wrong villain.
Sure, Bitcoin is used in some of the darker circles of the web to finance the purchase of drugs, guns and even contract killings, but so is real-world money. Real-world money is used to pay everyone from gun runners, corrupt bureaucrats and drug dealers; all of whom arguably do more harm to the world right now than Bitcoin does.
The real villain in the tale is the online drug marketplaces like Silk Road which sell these illicit substances to anyone with a Bitcoin wallet. In the same way the police crack down on dealers on a street corner, law enforcement agencies are chasing down the owners of drug bazaars on the internet. It just takes time.
Treasurer Joe Hockey was reported in The Canberra Times as saying that he "understood the basis" of the petition and campaign to ban Bitcoin in Australia, but said that any regulation against Bitcoin needed to function at an international level rather than a Federal level.
We don't want to trivialise the tragic death of poor Daniel; we just want to make sure the right people go down for it. [Canberra Times]
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