Back in October 2013, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), the law enforcement agency of the United States had busted a top online drug cartel called Silk Road with the help of its European counterparts. The online Silk Road underground mart sold drugs, guns, mercenaries etc. in exchange for bitcoins and proved to a huge hit among drug additcts. The FBI bust resulted in arrest of Willian Ulbricht the chief operator of Silk Road and also seizure of around 29,656.51306529 bitcoins in addition to 144,000 bitcoins seized from Ulbricht himself. (Read the full details here). Coming to the present the FBI decided to auction of the 29656.51306529 bitcoins through the US Marshals Service (USMS).
The USMS announced a online bidding process for which the registration process for the auction will started from 9:00 AM EDT on Monday, June 16, 2014 till Noon EDT and would have lasted till Monday, June 23, 2014. Now Coindesk report reveals that the USMS has leaked email addresses of everyone interested in bidding for the seized bitcoins. It seems that USMS email forwarding the details of bidding had a BCC which inadvertently let all the receivers know the emails of others who were interested in the bidding.
BCC stands for Blind Carbon Copy, if you want to copy someone on an email message, but *don’t* want others on the address list to know, you use the bcc: field. It is used by emailers to mask that you have sneakily let someone else see what you have sent, without the risk of causing offence to the main recipient.
So going by the Coindesk reports this classic bcc/cc error by the USMS has now made the email address of everyone interested in the auction of 29,656.51306529 bitcoins confiscated from the Silk Road blackmarket site to everyone else.
The USMS has apologised for the privacy breach, and emphasised that inclusion on the list did not necessarily indicate that a particular party was bidding for the bitcoins but it would be really naive to believe that someone would ask details of the bidding process without being interested in it.
“One of the emails that we sent out this morning inadvertently showed a list of some of the individuals who have asked a question or questions about the pending bitcoin auction. We apologize for the error.”
The auction is due to take place on 27 June, with bidders notified of whether they had been successful by the end of the month.