US Prosecutor: Tracking Criminals Taught Me Blockchain Is a Tool for Good
A federal prosecutor has come out in favor of blockchain technology as a tool for good — after years investigating those who use cryptocurrency for criminal activities.
Also read: Using Blockchain to Fight the Fake Diploma Nightmare
Prosecutor: ‘There’s Always A Counterfeit Public Document’
Speaking in an interview with Forbes on Wednesday, prosecutor Kathryn Haun said she understands blockchain technology has real use in fighting crimes such as fraud. Specifically, Haun highlighted its revolutionary potential for record-keeping.
“Of all the kinds of cases that I’ve ever done, whether you’re talking about the Hell’s Angels, marriage fraud, the bank officer I prosecuted for impersonating dead people or the criminals I’ve prosecuted using cryptocurrency, they all have one thing in common,” she explained.
“There’s always been, somewhere along the way, a forged, counterfeit or stolen public document.”
Blockchain startups have been working on implementations to secure record keeping for some time. From health records to real estate deeds, people are increasingly accepting the virtues of an immutable public ledger in the field.
‘Sky’s The Limit’ With 3 Forged Documents
Haun revealed the stark inefficiencies with the current paper-based system, using the example of birth certificates. In the US, an almost inconceivable 6500 legitimate entities are producing the documents on 14,000 different types of forms.
“We call these ‘breeder documents’ — because they quite literally breed new identities,” she commented, adding that the ease with which fraudsters can operate is a further alarming issue.
“You get a forged, fake or stolen birth certificate and a name, and you take that down to the DMV and you get your photo taken with that, and now you all of a sudden also have a driver’s license. You take the driver’s license and birth certificate to the passport office and now you’ve gotten yourself a passport. And all of a sudden, with these three kind of identity documents, the sky’s the limit on what kind of criminal activity you could do.”
Would You Like To Prosecute Bitcoin?
Haun also aptly demonstrated the misunderstandings about cryptocurrency which abounded at federal level as recently as 2012.
Her first encounter with the fledgling market was when, in her capacity as prosecutor, she was asked whether she would like to prosecute Bitcoin.
“I had to laugh,” she said, “I suppose it would be like saying, ‘How would you like to prosecute cash?’”
Haun currently focuses on cryptocurrency at the Department of Justice as its digital currency coordinator, and also teaches at the pioneering Stanford Law School class on digital currency and cybercrime.
What do you think about Kathryn Haun’s findings? Let us know in the comments section below.
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