Blockchain Alliance: Bitcoin and Law Enforcement
A group of individuals and digital currency organizations recently have formed the “Blockchain Alliance” with law enforcement to help investigate and curb crime within the distributed ledger. The group believes that Bitcoin’s reputation has a tainted side and feels they can teach authorities to better understand this new technology. The alliance, created by the Coin Center, contains quite a few business affiliates in the cryptocurrency industry. Two goals are involved with the Alliance’s mission: educate investigative departments and erase the tainted reputation they believe Bitcoin has.
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“Law enforcement will pursue criminals no matter what technology they’re using, and how law enforcement does this can affect an open technology. As a result, it’s in everyone’s interest–law enforcement, industry, and those of us who want to keep the technology free.”
The idea to start a Blockchain Alliance with law enforcement came from public and private conversations concerning the “currency’s potential and its obstacles,” said Jason Weinstein, a former deputy assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice. The forum is created for the coalition between law and the industry, according to the Alliance website, which states, “Organizations who have come together with a common goal – to make the blockchain ecosystem more secure and to promote further development of this transformative technology.” Over Twitter, BitLicense creator Ben Lawsky spoke up about the Alliance and its co-founder Jason Weinstein. Lawsky stated,
“Very interesting development. Have known Weinstein for years, and he has a lot of credibility with law enforcement.”
Coin Center’s Executive Director, Jerry Brito, thinks that a group like the Alliance may curb the criminality involved with the digital currency. The first step of the organization is the creation of a mailing list designated for authorities and government officials to ask questions about blockchain technology and Bitcoin.
Law enforcement has already been digging for instructions to understand the technology. In Florida, a local Bitcoin trader was arrested for using LocalBitcoins as an illegal money transmitter. For example, a Florida court ordered Pascal Reid to educate local officials about Bitcoin after he accepted a plea deal on charges of operating as an illegal money transmitter.
Immediately after the announcement, discussions and threads were started about the Alliance. Some people didn’t mind the idea, and others absolutely hated it. But according to the Alliance, Bitcoin has been ravaged by theft, the Silk Road, Ponzi schemes and more, giving the virtual currency a black eye.
The companies participating in the Alliance include BitFury, BitPay, CoinBase, Kraken, Blockchain, Xapo, and Circle Internet. Through the Alliance, these companies will work with agencies like the FBI and Homeland Security. Bitcoin Foundation Director Bruce Fenton says, “Some people I respect a great deal have joined this Blockchain Alliance where Bitcoin companies will partner with agencies like the DHS, FBI and Immigration Service (of all things). I must be missing something because I don’t see how this is beneficial.”
Bitcoin Core Developer Gavin Andresen stepped in at Bitcoin.com’s newly formed forums and gave his two cents on the issue. Andresen said that he agrees with engagement, saying, “There has always been a split among bitcoiners on how best to interact with regulators and law enforcement. There is the ‘ignore them, they’re illegitimate. Honey Badger don’t care’ side. And there’s the ‘engage them, educate them, show them the positive benefits to balance the negatives that are, otherwise, probably the only thing they see’ side. I still think engaging is the best strategy. Yes, there will be more failures like the BitLicense, but overall I think every positive interaction with law enforcement or regulators helps move opinions from ‘Bitcoin is Evil and must be eliminated’ towards ‘Bitcoin is an innovative technology that should be allowed to grow.’ Coin Center says that the Alliance wasn’t formed to create new investigations within the crypto-environment. The group believes that its just an attempt to create dialogue with officials on how the technology operates.
Many wonder what the group will do with the Bitcoin environment. As usual, people feel that there is a need for government to step in and clean up with regulation. Others disagree; some people on Reddit and the Bitcoin.com forums stated that they may never touch the currency again. They feel that regulations are the antithesis of cryptocurrency and its decentralized nature. Bitcoin.com reached out to the Alliance and received no comment. However, we will keep our readers informed of any developments involved with this group of industry leaders, the public/private forum, and law enforcement’s latest moves.
What do you think of this new Alliance? Let us know in the comments below!
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