top of page

Australian Court Hits Meta with A$20 Million Fine for Hidden Data Collection

Updated: Jan 2

[Edited] The Australian law enforcement agency is currently conducting an investigation into the role of bitcoin in organized crime, according to a senior official.

Credit : REUTERS

This comes at a time when politicians and financial regulators are embracing the digital currency as a legitimate part of modern business.

The investigation into bitcoin's crime links by one authority while others embrace it highlights the dilemma faced by governments as they struggle to regulate this five-year-old cryptocurrency, which has gained popularity worldwide.

Judy Lind, the Executive Director of the Australian Crime Commission, revealed for the first time that investigators will be monitoring the "misuse of virtual currencies to facilitate criminal activity" under an operation named Project Longstrike. Lind stated, "We know that virtual currencies, including bitcoin, are used as payment methods to facilitate illicit trade on the darknet."

She further added, "Organized crime groups continue to make use of darknets to harbor trading in illicit commodities, including child exploitation material, illicit drugs and firearms, stolen credit card and identity data, and hacking techniques."

Project Longstrike is just the latest example of Australia's determination to crack down on bitcoin-enabled crime. Last month, Australia extradited the alleged primary moderator of Silk Road, a website where people bought illegal drugs using bitcoins, to the United States.

Regulators around the world are cautious due to the bankruptcy of the Mt Gox bitcoin exchange in Tokyo earlier this year, which lost approximately 850,000 bitcoins worth about $300 million in a hacking attack. While Japan has allowed bitcoin trading to continue without establishing a full set of rules on its legal status, the United States is yet to agree on cohesive laws. On the other hand, the United Kingdom is considered a world leader as it has classified bitcoins as a currency.

In Australia, authorities are also trying to facilitate legal bitcoin trades in a country where the use of the currency is rapidly increasing. Reports suggest that online retailers, real estate agents, and even pubs are accepting bitcoin payments. The Australian Taxation Office has published a guide for bitcoin traders on how to declare their investments, and a parliamentary inquiry is underway to establish a broader regulatory approach to the digital currency.

However, David Glance, director of the University of Western Australia's Centre for Software Practice, believes that Australia is sending mixed messages. He stated, "Politicians singularly fail to understand what (the digital economy) is all about. They latch onto trends and buzzwords." Glance added, "There still isn't a problem that bitcoin solves, other than buying drugs."

Senator Sam Dastyari, who is leading the parliamentary inquiry, believes that bitcoins offer a way to "shake up" Australia's "stale" banking industry. He emphasizes the need for a regulatory system that polices crime without restricting the currency. Dastyari said, "There is going to be a place for some kind of digital-style currency. There is inevitability that it will play some kind of role."

In a sign of how rapidly bitcoin businesses are entering the mainstream, Australia could soon witness the world's first direct share market listing of a virtual currency exchange. Melbourne-based start-up Bitcoin Group plans to raise A$20 million ($17 million) and file a prospectus by Christmas.

Bitcoin Group's CEO, Sam Lee, compared the currency to the early "wild, wild west" days of the Internet and dismissed concerns that it mainly serves as a vehicle for illegal transactions. He said, "We've moved far beyond that now. We expect (bitcoin currency) to clean itself up as more capital and more smart people flow into the ecosystem."

  • Australian law enforcement agency investigates bitcoin's role in organized crime

  • Authorities crack down on bitcoin-enabled crime, extradite alleged Silk Road moderator

  • Regulators cautious after Mt Gox bitcoin exchange bankruptcy

Source : REUTERS

As technology advances and has a greater impact on our lives than ever before, being informed is the only way to keep up.  Through our product reviews and news articles, we want to be able to aid our readers in doing so. All of our reviews are carefully written, offer unique insights and critiques, and provide trustworthy recommendations. Our news stories are sourced from trustworthy sources, fact-checked by our team, and presented with the help of AI to make them easier to comprehend for our readers. If you notice any errors in our product reviews or news stories, please email us at  Your input will be important in ensuring that our articles are accurate for all of our readers.

bottom of page