Showing posts with label zcash. Show all posts
Showing posts with label zcash. Show all posts

Blockchain Spies: The US Government sets out to take the privacy out of 'privacy coins'...

I have to admit, the timing seems odd.  Earlier this year I published an article in response to the DEA sharing their findings on cryptocurrency titled "DEA Special Agent: 90% of crypto transactions used to be for illegal purposes - today that number is just 10%."

But even with illegal cryptocurrency usage at an all-time low, and more legitimate entities entering the market every week, the US Department Of Homeland Security sees the small number of bad apples as a priority.

Perhaps, just to 'get in front' of a problem, before it even becomes one.

A just-released document on the DHS website invites private businesses to contact them if they believe they can help when it comes to finding solutions to the problems they outline within.  One section of this document dedicated to blockchain is titled "Blockchain Applications for Homeland Security Forensic Analytics".

They begin by mentioning two of the top privacy coins by name:

"This proposal seeks applications of blockchain forensic analytics for newer cryptocurrencies, such as Zcash and Monero."

They explain their reasoning as:

"A key feature underlying these newer blockchain platforms that is frequently emphasized is the capability for anonymity and privacy protection. While these features are desirable, there is similarly a compelling interest in tracing and understanding transactions and actions on the blockchain of an illegal nature." 

If a person or company thinks they can do it - they'll need to explain how, build a prototype, and then show it in action.  Pull it off - and you'll land a valuable government contract.

Now the question is - how private are those privacy coins?  The motivation to find holes in their security just got a lot stronger.
Author: Ross Davis
E-Mail: Twitter:@RossFM
San Francisco News Desk

US Secret Service warns Congress about privacy coins - here's what you need to know...

Robert Novy, the Deputy Assistant Director of the Office of Investigations for the United States Secret Service gave prepared testimony to the United States House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance.

Those prepared statements, just posted to the US House Of Representatives website (link) show they are becoming increasingly concerned about the use of cryptocurrency in illicit acts, stating:

"In recent years, criminals have increasingly used digital currencies to facilitate illicit activities onthe Internet. Digital currencies provide an efficient means of transferring large values globally, for both legitimate and criminal purposes."

Novy then listed the following reasons why 'criminals prefer digital currencies' saying these ‘characteristics’ appeal to them:

1) Widespread adoption as a medium of exchange for intended criminal activities.
2) The greatest degree of anonymity.
3) Protection against theft, fraud, and lawful seizure.
4) Can be readily exchanged to and from their preferred currency.
5) The ability to quickly and confidently transfer value transnationally.

Up to this point there wasn't much we haven't heard before, same things we saw in news stories often back when the mainstream media was just learning about Bitcoin and couldn't write a report on it without mentioning the big 'Silk Road' bust - where the suspected owner of a large illegal online marketplace that used Bitcoin as it's currency was arrested.

The topic then switched to privacy coins specifically - something we haven't heard law enforcement weigh in on much before. That's when Novy took a more hardlined approach, saying:

"We should also consider additional legislative or regulatory actions to address potential challenges related to anonymity-enhanced cryptocurrencies, services intended to obscure transactions on blockchains (i.e. cryptocurrency tumblers or mixers) and cryptocurrency mining pools."

In my opinion - I've always found this an odd argument to make, because even with all this in mind - the most anonymous method of transferring funds has and always will be paper cash.  Even privacy coins leave behind a larger footprint than a person simply handing someone a suitcase full of cash and disappearing into the night.

Also, not every transaction someone wants to keep private is also illegal. Every day countless numbers people use cash when they're buying something that may simply be embarrassing to them - but legal nonetheless. 

Lastly - these days even credit card companies are providing a method for anonymous usage though pre-paid cards, which can be purchased in cash and readily available at gas stations and grocery stores.

It's important to remember these are simply some suggestions given to lawmakers, but this still presents possible future complications for those investing in coins like Monero or ZCash.

At least it wasn't all bad - to his credit, Assistant Director Novy does see the legitimate use cases and benefits to the public cryptocurrencies offer, adding:

"Digital currencies have the potential to support more efficient and transparent global commerce, and to enhance U.S. economic competitiveness."

Another interesting thing we learned in the testimony - since 2015 the Secret Service has sized $28 million in cryptocurrencies during criminal investigations, primarily Bitcoin.
Author: Ross Davis
E-Mail: Twitter:@RossFM
San Francisco News Desk

Gemini exchange adds ZCash trading - with blessings from the US Government...

Gemini has added the first new coin in quite some time to their exchange - ZCash. 

What makes this unique is the 'official approval process' they largely created themselves - by approaching NY's financial services department seeking approval to execute trades of and storage the cryptocurrency - which was successful.

Gemini has really lead the way in conducting business in the unregulated cryptocurrency market in a way in which they imagine the regulations that may be coming - and securing their business by staying complaint to these possible future regulations.  Think of it as a 'better safe than sorry' way to operate.

Eric Winer, VP of Engineering at Gemini posted to their official blog:

"When we began building Gemini over four years ago, we envisioned a platform that would allow customers to trade many virtual commodities. Zcash is a friendly fork of the Bitcoin source code, making it a member of the “Nakamoto Family Tree” of virtual commodities. The Zcash protocol’s cutting edge use of zero-knowledge succinct non-interactive arguments of knowledge (“zk-SNARKS” or “zero-knowledge proofs”) makes it a truly innovative privacy coin that offers confidentiality for peer-to-peer transactions similar to those afforded to fiat currency transfers (e.g., ACH, FedWire, SWIFT, etc.).

We have been working closely with the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYSDFS) to obtain approval to offer Zcash trading and custody services to our customers as a New York trust company."

ZCash is up nearly 20% today following the news.

Gemini exchange is owned the Winklevoss twins - who once sued Mark Zuckerberg claiming they were the actual creators of Facebook, as seen in the movie "The Social Network".

Author: Mark Pippen
London News Desk