Europol Taps Exchanges to Crack Down on Crypto Crimes

June 20, 2018

There has been an obvious correlation between cryptocurrency and online crime. Nipping this trend in the bud has proven to be extremely challenging as of late. To counter this ongoing threat, Europol is sitting down with European cryptocurrency exchanges. The goal is to crack down on further illicit activity in a more aggressive manner.

Europol Flexes its Muscles

Even though currencies such as Bitcoin are ill-equipped to hide one’s tracks, it remains a favorite tool among criminals. For several years now, there have been online crime incidents involving Bitcoin. Over the past year, however, the attention has slowly shifted to more anonymous currencies such as Monero. Regardless of which currency is being used, the online crime involving cryptocurrencies needs to be brought to a halt.

Cracking down on this illegal activity proves to be extremely difficult. While blockchain analysis firms can help in some regards, it can only be done after the facts. Europol acknowledges these challenges and is trying a completely different tactic. This week, the agency will meet with over a dozen major cryptocurrency exchanges in Europe. The goal of this venture is to prevent the use of cryptocurrencies for money laundering. Additionally, the agency wants to find ways to enhance its capabilities in the world of Bitcoin and altcoins.

This three-day conference will solely revolve around digital currencies and cybercrime. With all of these exchange operators present, engaging in an open dialog seems to be the right idea. Ever since Europol warned about money laundering through cryptocurrency in Europe, the agency has been looking for ways to clamp down on such activity. It is evident they cannot do so alone, at this time.

Will it Impact Bitcoin Activity?

It is evident this conference can have some consequences for the cryptocurrency industry. Those who get involved in Bitcoin or altcoins for nefarious reasons will have plenty to worry about, by the look of things. Europol is especially interested in the “tracing and attribution” of digital coins. Moreover, the agency wants to erode the use of mixing services and other services which hide a cryptocurrency’s origins.

One thing that can prove to be a hindrance is how cryptocurrencies cannot be frozen. More specifically, they cannot be frozen on the blockchain directly. It seems this is where the help from the various exchanges comes into the picture. Those entities are custodians over users’ funds, and they can effectively freeze individual accounts or wallet addresses. Whether or not that option will be explored, remains a bit unclear at this time.

Another option to explore is building a centralized system to flag cryptocurrency wallets. Whether or not that is a viable option for Europol, remains to be determined. With the help of the various blockchain analysis firms, building such a tool would be relatively easy. All of these measures are designed to bring more legitimacy to the cryptocurrency industry. That in itself can only be considered to be a good thing.


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