Is PRISM Precipitating A Bitcoin Sell-Off?

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Bitcoin has experienced a fairly massive drop in value over the weekend and into this week, moving from a peak of $118 on June 7 to a low of $89 on June 9. While precipitous drops and dizzying highs aren’t unusual for the cryptocurrency, BTC watchers are pointing to the PRISM and NSA leaks as a cause for this weekend’s massive dip.

The wonks at CoinDesk note that Sundays are usually slow for the market in general. On the ninth, however, the volume spiked past recent highs and the price dropped precipitously. The correlation between price and the PRISM news making the rounds this weekend – while not airtight – is at least plausible.

Bitcoin is controlled primarily by market sentiment. While a few big players can move the market a few notches, it’s clear that the currency does get hit with periodic storms related to attacks and, more important, news relating to privacy and finance. Users, then, are in the unenviable position of dealing with online mobs whose impetus and trading inspiration are far more opaque than, say, a retail equity trader’s. But why the drop?

Most BTC owners are of the mind that the transactions between wallets are completely anonymous and, in theory, they are. However, as more and more cash changes hands, it’s obvious that someone somewhere wants to watch where these BTCs are going. While it’s hard to see exactly who is getting what using any sort of transaction log, the associated metadata collected by various outfits, the NSA included, point to transfers into and out of BTC.

In short, Bitcoin users are stuck: They revel in the anonymity but are unsure of the degree. That’s a problem that will become more and more disconcerting as the currency grows in popularity and strength.