IWF Partnering with Bitcoin Startup a 'Major Step' in Crimefighting


IWF Partnering with Bitcoin Startup a 'Major Step' in Crimefighting

Blockchain intelligence startup Elliptic has partnered with the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) to help tackle child pornography bought with Bitcoin.

Also read: Darknet Purchases Increasing as Drug War Continues to Fail

IWF Taps Blockchain Intelligence

elliptic3Elliptic, which counts major Bitcoin operators including Bitpay among its clients, already reports to law enforcement on various forms of “illicit activity” involving Bitcoin addresses.

“This is the first time anybody has started identifying these crimes in Bitcoin and flagging them up in a system like ours,” CEO Dr. James Smith told Reuters. “This is a great step … towards our goal of getting rid of any sort of illicit activity in bitcoin.”

Both Elliptic and the IWF are London-based, with the latter concentrating principally on child pornography and its complete eradication from the internet.

For the partnership, Elliptic will “integrate [the] IWF’s data set into its transaction-monitoring systems and will then alert clients when it sees money moving from the addresses identified as bad actors,” Reuters reports.

‘Major Step’ in Bitcoin Evolution

hacker_bitcoin_comThis “identification of bad actors” marks a further step in legitimizing Bitcoin as a payment method in the public eye. Anonymous parties have faced increasing difficulty transacting above the law for some time, yet to many Bitcoin is still overly associated with the possibility of successfully engaging in criminal activity.

“Elliptic and IWF’s partnership represents a major step forward in Bitcoin’s evolution,” Mark Birch, former head of the UK Regional Organized Crime Unit, said in a press release issued today.

Elliptic has demonstrated to banks, law enforcement and the public at large that they are taking meaningful steps to eliminate the illicit use of Bitcoin. They have set an important precedent for Bitcoin companies worldwide to fight crime.

The IWF move will also bring about changes in “best practices” for both parties with the press release stating that the process of identifying and notifying in the case of suspicious activity will be streamlined. This will include clients being able to “automatically monitor all transactions for any connection to proceeds of child sex abuse,” Smith added.

Despite the focus on Bitcoin in the drive and the IWF identifying 68,000 URLs containing child sexual abuse images, Elliptic said the proportion of such crimes committed using Bitcoin in the process has in fact decreased relative to the overall number of Bitcoin transactions.

Nonetheless, IWF CEO Susie Hargreaves commented that the organization has seen “an increasing amount of Bitcoin activity connected to purchasing child sexual abuse material online” over the past few years.

What do you think about the practicalities of identifying Bitcoin crime? Let us know in the comments section below!

Tags in this story
Bitcoin crime, Dr. James Smith, Elliptic

Images courtesy of schneiderelectricrepair.com and bitcoin-gr.org

William Suberg

William Suberg is a freelance digital tech journalist who has written extensively about Bitcoin, the blockchain and the evolving cryptocurrency ecosystem for a variety of publications. He has been writing for Bitcoin.com since January 2016.

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