Dec 6, 2013

Bitcoin: your handy guide to digital pickpocketing

Bitcoin, like any other currency, can be stolen or laundered. But if the digital currency is not linked to any government with law enforcement powers, is theft really a crime?

Stilgherrian — Technology writer and broadcaster


Technology writer and broadcaster

Bitcoin is the closest we’ve ever got to a workable digital currency, but its rapidly rising value through 2013 has attracted thieves as well as speculators — and despite its magic, it’s not invulnerable.

The more libertarian and anarchist ends of internet culture have long dreamed of a digital equivalent to cash — money that can be used to buy and sell goods and services online without having the transaction tracked by an intermediary like a fee-hungry bank, or credit card company, or a taxation-hungry government. But how do you create the digital equivalent of a banknote when, in the digital realm, anyone could make a perfect copy in an instant? Counterfeiting would run rife, and the currency would be worthless.

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8 thoughts on “Bitcoin: your handy guide to digital pickpocketing

  1. Jimmyhaz

    If Bitcoin is a currency then it is designed to fail, one of the most basic aspects of currency is that it must be inflationary, otherwise there is no incentive to spend. At best bitcoins are collectors items, and at worst they are the worlds largest pyramid scheme.

  2. dazza

    If you google ‘Keiser Report: Bitcoin is Beautiful (E526)
    It’s well explained especially in the second half of his show.

  3. pixeljuice


    I thought bitcoins could be mined using computer rigs. Increasing computing power will allow for more mining and more bitcoins. Is that inflationary enough to pass your basic aspect test?

  4. Aidan Stanger


    Because Bitcoin is not the primary currency of anywhere, the fact that its value can go down as well as up is sufficient incentive to spend. And because Bitcoin is not aimed at those who can’t afford to trade in any other currency, there’s no great need to encourage spending anyway.


    Story critical of bitcoins?

    Incoming crazy people ariving in 3..2..1..


    @Pixeljuice. The trend for bitcoin is more deflationary than almost anything I’ve ever seen. The price of them has jumped from about $10 maybe a year ago to nearly $1000 now (Its dropped a bit, but it’ll be up again). The end result is that the price that can be obtained for goods is dropping at an alarming rate. A year ago a pizza would sell for perhaps 2 bitcoins. Now you’d be lucky to get a couple of percent of a bitcoin.

    Such a loss of value for comodities would be nightmarish in the wider world, and represent an economic downturn like nothing else in history.

  7. Tony Harris

    Maths is the word.

  8. Phil Manhire

    Maybe it’s a sign of a true, “New World Order” technology that can survive the rigours of time…maybe not!

    Unlike the fiat currencies that we have come to see raped pillaged, bastardized in all manners until they go into total meltdown, BitCoin does seem to have potential as a survivable currency….UNLESS that dreaded ‘Black Swan’ event occurs such as……..?

    For mind, a good asset protection measure would still be to have a good slice of ‘cashable’ assets in gold…JUST in case!

    Check out for some more “Golden Thoughts” per se….

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