The European Union’s Intellectual Property (EUIPO) office has stated that Bitcoin and Tor can “hide the proceeds of crime” and hinder anti-piracy efforts.
Bitcoin & Tor Threaten EU’s Anti-Piracy Efforts
According to EUIPO, which recently announced that they are working with Europol on a new anti-piracy effort, Bitcoin and the Tor network are two key threats to their ongoing anti-piracy efforts.
This, along with 25 different business models pirates use, were the focus of a report that was recently published by EUIPO.
The paper speaks of a vast “shadow landscape” that was created to illegally exploit intellectual property in many ways and holds up both Tor and Bitcoin as leading technologies enabling the ongoing infringements.
The report reads:
It [the shadow landscape] more and more relies on new encrypted technologies like the TOR browser and the Bitcoin virtual currency, which are employed by infringers of IPR to generate income and hide the proceeds of crime from the authorities.
Business Models Using Tor & Bitcoin
While almost every one of the 25 illegal business models the report investigates use Tor to some degree, Bitcoin is only mentioned in about half of the models, and some of those strictly for accepting donations.
Including the detailed, full-page introduction to Bitcoin, the document mentions the cryptocurrency over 50 times, most of which are as funding sources for their business profiles. Some of these are as simple as accepting bitcoin donations on torrent sites, while others are as adventurous as dark web weapon marketplaces. Pay-for-content download libraries and counterfeit goods marketplaces are other major examples.
Why Bitcoin is a ‘Threat’
Bitcoin’s inherent threat, according to the report, is that transactions can’t be easily tied to an individual in the real world. This problem is a bad one for the EUIPO since copyright enforcement is usually based on the strategy of following the money.
“There are no public records connecting Bitcoin wallet IDs with personal information of individuals,” it explains. “Because of these Bitcoin transactions are considered semi-anonymous.”
The study behind this report and the new Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition (IP3C) were launched by EUIPO and Europol earlier this month to address these “threats” more effectively. EUIPO claims that “The study will provide enhanced understanding to policymakers, civil society and private businesses. At the same time, it will help to identify and better understand the range of responses necessary to tackle the challenge of large-scale online IPR infringements.”
EUIPO made it clear that they are closely following this trend since it makes it more difficult for them to combat piracy and even counterfeiting online. Since so many business models listed in the report prefer Bitcoin, the report confirms the long-held viewpoint that Bitcoin does indeed provide better anonymity compared to traditional money.
Do you think Bitcoin and TOR hinder the EU’s piracy efforts? Let us know in the comment section below.
Images courtesy of USAToday, torproject.org, European Union