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Tokyo: Website Owner Convicted For Installing Mining Software onto Visitors’ Computers

February 18, 2020
Ross Peili


Tokyo: Website Owner Convicted For Installing Mining Software onto Visitors’ Computers

TOKYO – An entrepreneur from Japan was convicted by the Supreme Court of Tokyo for secretly installing cryptocurrency mining software to unaware visitors of his website venture. 

More specifically, the court cited that the 32-year-old website developer used the popular Coinhive software which essentially allowed him to install mining operations to pretty much everyone who visited his website. 

Judge Tsutomu Tochigi labeled the action as a “malicious crime used for personal gain” and fined the developer with 100,000 yen, worth a little over $900 USD, adding that instances of Coinhive were forced themselves into users’ computers without their consent and most of the times without their knowledge. 

“Visitors were not informed of (the mining program) or given the chance to reject it,” said presiding Judge Tsutomu Tochigi according to Japan Times, a major domestic media outlet who covered the incident.

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According to the press, this is not the first time this man faces the law, and back in 2019, the Yokohama District Court was a bit more flexible compared to Tokyo’s Supreme Court, basically acquitting the developer, saying that the software had a ‘minor impact’ on the visitors’ computers, citing that the law enforcement had not warned him against the use of Coinhive before prosecuting him. 

Ironically enough, the 32-year-old convict expressed loud dissatisfaction against the Tokyo ruling, while his lawyer added that his client would appeal immediately. In any case, Tokyo’s Supreme Court did not find these factors as material for acquittal.

With GDPR and other analogous rulings, it is now very hard for websites to implant cookies and/or other more sophisticated software such as mining operators without the users’ consent, yet, it is not always easy to track and estimate what exactly each website’s intention truly is.  

In case you’re unfamiliar with Coinhive, it is a feature basically acting similar to AdSense-like operations that share profits with referral brokers, in this case, the respective website, and compensates them depending on the amount of ‘work’ the owner of the website contributes to the network, or simply the more users get ‘infected’ the more profits are shared with the software broker. 

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The thing with ‘invisible’ mining software is that since they act as micro-nodes for larger cryptocurrency projects, it is very hard to detect where all the money comes from and where it ends up in-between operations. 

Thankfully, Japan is one of the most progressive countries when it comes to public cryptocurrency regulations and this should be just a demonstration of the intolerance against malicious cyber-criminals.