Superfast Computers Triggering Botched Marijuana Grow Raids

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Photo: Bitcoin Miner
Turns out, looking only at electric usage from a residence, the consumption for bitcoin mining won’t look much different from a marijuana grow-op. Cue clueless cops.

You don’t have to be growing marijuana to get raided for it. At least one Bitcoin miner has been raided by police because unusually high power usage led them to suspect he was growing marijuana, according to unconfirmed reports on Monday.

The tip comes from an IRC chat captured by blogger Mike Esspe, though there are no corroborating details, reports Jerry Brito of Techland.
Bitcoin is the anonymous virtual currency that uses distributed computing power to validate online coins. “It’s like gold mining, except that instead of digging, a miner uses cryptographic math,” reports Techland.
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Screen capture: Mike Esspe
Does this mean, that with the growing number of bitcoin miners, courts will stop issuing warrants based on energy bills? Not bloody likely.
Like clandestine indoor marijuana growing operations, Bitcoin mining uses large amounts of electricity and runs up big power bills. It does this because it employs super-fast computers.
High power consumption has often alerted police to marijuana growing operations and has thus led to busts.
“The Canadian town of Mission, B.C. has a bylaw that allows the town’s Public Safety Inspection Team to search people’s homes for grow ops if they are using more than 93 kWh of electricity per day,” according to the blog Bitcoin Miner.
Though a typical mining rig will consume only a fraction of that amount, Bitcoin miners are adding capacity, and with multiple rigs, more and more miners are exceeding the level which triggers police interest, according to the blog.
Residents have been charged a $5,200 inspection fee — even if no marijuana or signs of a grow operation are found, reports Cam Tucker at the Delta Optimist.
Some Mission residents who feel their rights have been violated by the arbitrary searches, and have begun a class-action lawsuit against the District of Mission in B.C. Supreme Court.
There had already been speculation that mining Bitcoins will bring unwanted and misdirected attention from the police.
“I’m still waiting for the first bitcoin grow-op raid,” a Bitcoin mining pioneer had commented on an IRC channel back in January.
Increasingly ubiquitous supercomputing could lead to more and more false positives, not just for Bitcoin miners, but for hardcore gamers too, as well as anyone running video rendering farms or web servers from home, according to Techland.
“It will be interesting to see how courts will adapt to such uses when interpreting reasonable suspicion standards,” Brito writes.
Does this mean, that with the growing number of Bitcoin miners, courts will stop issuing warrants based on energy bills? Not bloody likely.

http://www.tokeofthetown.com/2011/05/superfast_computers_triggering_botched_marijuana_g.php#more

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