The United States government is offering cryptocurrency rewards for information leading to the arrest of terrorists.
The US State Department is promoting a website called “Rewards for Justice” to allow informants to submit tips and information in exchange for cryptocurrency rewards.
The new initiative will pay up to $10 million to informants with information on state-backed hackers. It was distributed at a recent Black Hat event in Las Vegas via an unsecured Wi-Fi network known as ‘#Rewardsnotransoms.’
Crypto for information
The Department of State’s Counter-Terrorism Rewards Program was established in 1984, according to the RFJ website. Since then, the government has paid more than $150 million to over 100 people who provided actionable information that led to the arrest of terrorists or the prevention of acts of international terrorism around the world, according to the statement.
The promotional campaign at the Vegas cyber conference was intended to target an audience that was already familiar with cryptocurrencies and the dark web – the part of the internet that commercial search engines do not access.
For the first time in the program’s history, informants could choose to receive payments in cryptocurrency and communicate with the government via a secure portal on the dark web, according to the report. According to a State Department official:
“Something on the Dark Web that allows complete anonymity and an initial level of security is probably more appropriate for those people,” says the author.
Up to $10 million in reward money has been offered for information leading to the capture of a number of high-profile Islamist extremists, senior operatives, and terrorist groups.
According to William Evanina, a former American national security official who currently serves as the Director of the United States National Counterintelligence and Security Center, the government’s foray into cryptocurrency is the most public move it has ever made.
‘The program is changing.’
According to Neeraj Agrawal of the Washington think tank Coin Center:
“For a long time, we suspected that law enforcement agencies were exploiting the properties of cryptocurrencies. It’s encouraging to see the administration recognize the role cryptocurrencies can play in promoting activism.”
More cybersecurity reward offers are expected “very soon,” according to the State Department, which also stated that the use of cryptocurrency is expected to grow.
One official stated, “This program is evolving,” before adding, “I believe this cryptocurrency offer is something that we will use in the future for other types of rewards.” It may encourage other types of sources who may not have wanted to come to us with information in the past to do so.”