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Bitcoin is a legitimate technology that’s being exploited by extortionists for ransomware.

Even so, we must not forget the clear benefits to the wider world that these technologies promise and already deliver in some use cases.

That’s the conclusion of a spot-on analysis by Danny Palmer in ZDNet this week:

Ultimately, it could be said that the internet itself has been a huge gift for criminals, who are now using it not only for ransomware, but also malware, Trojans, hacking, and all manner of illegal activities on the dark web. In that case, Bitcoin is just the latest in a long line of technologies that have brought benefits to the wider world while unfortunately boosting the criminal underground.

When we’re asked about the very real problem of ransomware, our response to policymakers is that not only is Bitcoin not the root cause of ransomware, but it has only been adopted by ransomware criminals because it works so well as a payments system. As we’ve said,

The truth is that criminals have, as usual, very strict design parameters for the tools they use because there’s no tech-support, contract, or legal recourse for a criminal whose tools fail to perform as they should. Criminals are using Bitcoin in this case because it’s a reliable system that just works. Ransomware hackers are rather like the proverbial rumrunners of prohibition: they like fast custom cars because almost everyone else is still driving a Model T.

And as Palmer points out, we can never forget about the “benefits to the wider world” these technologies are bringing to areas such as remittances, healthcare, metered payments, and maybe even regulation itself.

By the way, we have a video version of that rum runners analogy.