NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s opposition on Monday demanded answers from the government on its stance on cryptocurrency a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Twitter account was hacked with a tweet saying the country had “officially adopted bitcoin as legal tender”.
The tweet was quickly deleted and the prime minister’s office said Modi’s account was “briefly compromised” before Twitter restored the account.
The tweet posted by the unidentified hackers on Sunday also said the government had bought 500 bitcoin and was distributing them to Indian residents across the country. “Hurry up,” the tweet read and included a link to a blog.
On Monday, opposition Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the hacking incident raised serious national security concerns and pressed the government to clarify whether it plans to recognize cryptocurrency, reported the Press Trust of India news agency.
“If the prime minister’s Twitter handle is compromised twice in two years, how can we be assured of the security of the nation? India’s security is under threat,” he said speaking before Parliament’s lower house.
Last year, the Twitter account linked to the prime minister’s personal website was also hacked.
The most recent incident comes just as the government is considering a law that could see a ban on private cryptocurrencies while creating a framework to bring in an official digital currency by India’s central bank. Details on the bill are still scarce but it is listed for hearing in Parliament this month.
The market for cryptocurrency and blockchain technology has grown significantly in recent years, especially during the pandemic, when much of India’s population was forced to stay at home. The local cryptocurrency market grew by more than 641% between June 2020 and July 2021 according to an October report by Chainanalysis, a blockchain research and data service.
According to another report by Nasscom, Indians are set to invest more than $10 billion in the cryptocurrency market by 2030. Last month, when speculation around the proposed cryptocurrency bill began, prices of some of the most popular digital currencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum and Tether tumbled by as much as 25% momentarily.
Modi is an avid tweeter and regularly posts on the platform to his over 70 million followers, more than that of U.S. President Joe Biden and beyond even celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Selena Gomez.
Last year, unidentified hackers broke into the Twitter accounts of tech billionaires, politicians and celebrities in an apparent Bitcoin scam. The ruse included bogus tweets from a number of high-profile people, including the former President Barack Obama and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.