Bitcoin Is a ‘Boon for Surveillance’, Says Former CIA Director

By Mathew Di Salvo | Decrypt

In brief

  • The narrative that criminals are using Bitcoin for illicit activities is “overstated,” a new report by Former CIA Director Michael Morell argues.
  • Government agencies should make better use of Bitcoin’s technology as a “forensic tool,” he said.

The technology behind Bitcoin is a “boon for surveillance” and shouldn’t be shunned by governments but embraced, according to an ex-CIA boss. 

Michael Morell, who was previously the CIA’s acting director, said in ‘An Analysis of Bitcoin’s Use in Illicit Finance’ that “blockchain technology is a powerful but underutilized forensic tool for governments to identify illicit activity and bring criminals to justice.”

The report, co-authored by Josh Kirshner and Thomas Schoenberger, was ostensibly written as a defense of Bitcoin—a response to growing “concerns about the illicit finance implications of the cryptocurrency ecosystem.”

Published by the recently formed Crypto Council for Innovation, led by Coinbase and Square, among others, the report concluded that criminal use of Bitcoin is “significantly overstated”—rather than being the currency of choice for criminals, it can be used to catch them. 

“Put simply, blockchain analysis is a highly effective crime fighting and intelligence gathering tool,” the report read. 

The reason? The technology Bitcoin runs on—blockchain—means all transactions are logged on a public, decentralized, immutable ledger. 

Tracking illicit Bitcoin transactions is therefore easier than tracing illegal funds moved across borders using “traditional banking transactions” and “far easier” than trying to follow cash, according to the report. Read Full Article >

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