One characteristic of those mining bitcoins from home is that looking at only the electric usage for the residence the consumption will look similar to usage as if it was used as a marijuana grow-op.
The Canadian town of Mission, BC 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.
Though a typical mining rig will consume a fraction of that, Bitcoin miners are adding capacity and with multiple rigs an increasing number of miners now exceed that level.
Residents have been charged a $5,200 CAD inspection fee, even if no marijuana, or signs of a grow operation are found. Some Mission residents who feel their rights have been violated by the searches have begun a class-action lawsuit against the District of Mission in B.C. Supreme Court.
Though bitcoin mining appears to not be any part of this specific search and seizure, there had already been speculation that mining bitcoins will bring unwanted and misdirected attention from the police.
In January of this year, a Bitcoin mining pioneer commented on a Bitcoin IRC channel: “I’m still waiting for the first bitcoin grow-op raid”.
Two separate occurrences have now been communicated on IRC channels frequented by those mining bitcoin of police arriving at a miner’s residence with a search warrant. This blog’s author regrets not having pursued either lead to investigate and confirm the details of the claims but intends to do so should any further incidents be reported – especially following the Barnes vs. The State of Indiana ruling which gutted the Fourth Amendment there.
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[Updates:- “An unusually high electricity bill alerted police”.- Report: Police Confuse Bitcoin Miner’s Power Use for Growing Weed in TIME TechLand- “DEA agent Marotta told the Columbus Dispatch of a federal investigation that surprised drug detectives.
‘We thought it was a major grow operation … but this guy had some kind of business involving computers. I don’t know how many computer servers we found in his home.’”- http://www.networkworld.com/community/blog/are-smart-meters-real-time-surveillance-spies]
Written on 23 May 2011.