Court Uses Bitcoin Blockchain for Legal Summons, Revolutionizing Defendant Notification


A federal court in the U.S. has accepted the validity of using information contained in a Bitcoin transaction to notify a defendant about a civil action. The case, believed to be the first where this method is accepted, might help solve hundreds of cryptocurrency theft cases in which the attacker’s identity is unknown.

Federal Court Admits Bitcoin Op Return Usage to Serve a Defendant

Bitcoin is starting to be accepted as a communication means in civil cases. A federal court has accepted the validity of using the information in a Bitcoin transaction to inform an unknown defendant about his involvement in a civil action. This case, cited by the security portal Krebsonsecurity as the first time this medium is accepted for this task, might help expedite similar actions in which serving defendants is unpractical or impossible.

The case involves a cryptocurrency theft derived from a SIM swap made on Ryan Dellone, a California-based healthcare worker who had $100,000 worth of cryptocurrency stolen from his Coinbase account in December 2021. In December, the federal court accepted using Bitcoin’s Op-Return, a field in which information can be inscribed, to notify the attackers about this case.

This was possible because Dellone’s attorney, Ethan Mora, and a team of cryptocurrency researchers managed to track the movements of the funds to a Bitcoin wallet. While Dellone has been informed that the Bitcoin address has been part of an ongoing investigation against a cryptocurrency theft ring, and he doesn’t know which party is currently in control of these funds, he obtained permission to serve the address by a judge in a federal court in California.

The message was embedded in a transaction sending $100 to the wallet address and a link to a copy of the lawsuit hosted on Google Drive servers. Mark Rasch, a former federal prosecutor at the U.S. Department of Justice, stated:

The courts are adapting to the new style of service of process, and that’s helpful and useful and necessary.

However, not all agree on the validity of this procedure. Peter Todd, a Bitcoin Core developer, declared:

This is an awful way of serving someone. I don’t know of any wallets that display OP_Return info on incoming transactions.

Source : Bitcoin News by Sergio Goschenko / Jan 15, 2024 logo


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