Is China suddenly withdrawing the legality of cryptocurrency mining?
China Takes a Stab At a Mining Operation
Recently, the country – which has held a rather negative attitude towards bitcoin and digital currency – announced that the process of mining and extracting new digital coins was legal. China had been engaged in a hot debate over the legality of crypto mining given that it was allegedly causing irreparable damage to the environment. However, after several months of going back and forth, regulators decided that the process of crypto mining was permissible.
Now, however, more than 7,000 mining machines have been confiscated by local police who have been looking to infiltrate specific mining rings since April of 2018. The consensus is that these machines were being utilized to mine cryptocurrencies through illicitly garnered mining power. The machines were taken and all involved were held in custody due to “questionable electricity use.”
While crypto mining is legal in most areas, many say that the amount of energy required for crypto mining can be excessive. In this latest raid conducted by the Tangshan police, the State Electric Power Department and several other authorities, roughly 70,000 households were swarmed and searched. Legal officials had been watching these homes for some time, claiming that the average electricity usage in these homes far outdid energy usage in the residences of surrounding areas.
This led authorities to believe that something suspicious was going on. Along with the homes, authorities have also raided more than 1,400 communities, along with over 3,000 courtyards, mines, villages and factories.
So far, it looks as if crypto mining is still legal within China’s borders, though it seems as if authorities aren’t about to put up with electricity theft anytime soon, which is understandable – especially in an age where this seems to be occurring regularly.
One such case was reported on last October by Live Bitcoin News and involved a Russian nuclear scientist named Andrei Rybkin, who was ultimately sentenced to three years in prison for utilizing the energy of the plant he worked at to mine bitcoins.
Things Could Have Gotten Ugly
In addition, Rybkin was ordered to pay a fee of roughly 200,000 rubles (worth about $3,000 USD at press time). Rybkin was one of three people convicted over the illegal mining operation. The other two – Andrei Shatokhin and Denis Baykov – received suspended sentences of four years each and are also required to pay penalties.
What makes situations like these dangerous is that private or classified information regarding the nuclear power plant could have been made available or vulnerable through the mining operation. This could have led to infiltration from hackers or worse – a meltdown. The men are alleged to have mined bitcoin between the months of May and September of 2017 and purportedly caused more than $15,000 in damage to the plant in which they worked.