Like a majority of other digital technologies, Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies have been used by criminals for criminal activity. There’s no getting around it or sugarcoating it. It should come as no surprise then that the world’s authorities are forcing digital asset exchanges and service providers to deter crimes on their platforms.
Case in point, director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Kenneth Blanco has said that cryptocurrency firms are not above anti-money laundering laws.
Firms dealing with digital assets, he remarked, are still subject to the Bank Secrecy Act, “whether you are a stablecoin, centralized, decentralized crypto.”
He asserted that this has to be the case due to the potential that individuals on the other side of cryptocurrency transactions might be “dealing in some kind of illicit activity,” be it “opioids or human smuggling.”
John McAfee — the legendary libertarian-leaning cybersecurity guru that has since become a diehard advocate for cryptocurrency and blockchain — doesn’t agree with this assessment though. The technologist said in a recent interview that cryptocurrency exchanges and their ilk shouldn’t be responsible for actively combating crime.
Crypto Exchanges Not Responsible for Criminal Users
Speaking to Hill.tv in a recent interview, McAfee said that government officials expecting cryptocurrency firms to police criminal activity are being irrational:
“You can’t put that responsibility on me as an entrepreneur… You can’t require me to assist you in preventing what might be a future crime.”
McAfee was making his comments in the context of founding of a new crypto decentralized exchange solution, the fittingly-named McAfee DEX. The businessman has made a number of posts on Twitter over recent weeks calling out the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission seemingly regarding his new venture, warning of the potential crimes it could perpetuate. McAfee DEX, after all, is seemingly one of the only decentralized exchanges that are almost untouched by regulators.
Backing his assertion further, McAfee claimed that the “societal impact of giving people freedom from an overburden and corrupted government” through cryptocurrencies and blockchain outweighs “what small part criminals are going to play in this technology.”
Whose Job is It?
So, who’s job is it to enforce laws in the ether, the realm of cryptocurrencies?
Well, it seems that it is the mandate of players like the United States’ Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to take action against cryptocurrency criminals, at least for now. Bloomberg last week reported that the IRS has revealed that it has identified “dozens” of potential criminals that are using cryptocurrencies to perpetrate their crimes.
The tax agency revealed this after a meeting was held between officials from the U.S., U.K., Canada, and the Netherlands — a tax-officiating group known as the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement.
At the meeting, the entities shared “data, tools and tax enforcement strategies” in a bid to find those trying to participate in ” mitigate cross-border money-laundering, tax evasion, and cybercrime.” On the matter of why they’re focusing on digital technologies, specifically crypto assets, the Joint Chiefs wrote:
“Data breaches, intrusions, takeovers and compromises are the new tools that criminals use to commit tax crimes.”
It seems that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) plans on getting more involved too. FBI Director Christopher Wray said that cryptocurrencies pose a “significant” and “bigger and bigger” threat to his agency. Wray specifically made reference to terrorist financing, which some reports have revealed involve Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies.
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