The right to privacy is a fundamental prerequisite for peace of mind and security. The idea that only criminals have something to hide is strange. Contrarily, privacy is sought by almost everyone. Yet, it still gets stigmatized as suspicious — reserved solely for criminals or deviants.
Similarly sharing this unjust scrutiny are cryptocurrencies, which are — rather ironically — branded as a tool for felons, based largely on their anonymous hallmarks. However, no cryptocurrency is as disparaged for this discreet quality more than the privacy coin.
But just what are privacy coins used for? How has crypto criminality changed in 2019? And what’s in store for the future?
Is BTC making the cut?
Contrary to popular belief, Bitcoin (BTC) isn’t as anonymous as most people assume. The blockchain is, for all intents and purposes, an immutable, publicly held ledger of every single BTC transaction… ever. For this reason, Bitcoin isn’t particularly advisable for illegal activity — take note, criminals.
While no personal information can be gleaned from a typical BTC transaction, a quasi-pseudonymous sequence of characters — aka public addresses — are often more than enough to stop criminal activity in its tracks. On more than one occasion, BTC funds originating from a hack or heist have been traced and blacklisted. Moreover, all that stands between an “anonymous” BTC address and a user’s true identity is a centralized exchange and a Know Your Customer check.
Of course, there are alternatives. Unlike other digital currencies, privacy coins conceal the information present within a typical crypto transaction. There is no record of the recipient’s or sender’s addresses, and the transaction amount remains obscured, creating a decidedly anonymous payment system.
Nevertheless, the fact that these coins allow for the nondisclosure of identity doesn’t mean that they were intended for criminal use. The same goes for the people who use them. After all, financial privacy is generally regarded by most as integral. Just as people wouldn’t want just anyone to peruse their bank statement, not everyone wants their crypto transactions on record.
Privacy coins and criminality
There is a scarce amount of privacy in the digital age. Every single crumb of data is vyed over by corporations looking to gather as much information as possible. This is arguably one of the principal reasons for Big Tech’s recent foray into the financial industry.
Take Google’s latest venture, for example: checking accounts. On the surface, the enterprise looks to provide customers with a broader analysis of their financial lives. However, critics suggest that it’s actually Google looking for these insights.
Given this, it’s perhaps understandable why the need for an anonymous cryptocurrency arose in the first place. Yet, as with any value-based commodity, privacy coins do allow a sufficient scope for misdeeds. In fact, Monero rose to the mainstream consciousness earlier this year for this very reason.
Back in January, scores of media outlets reported on the abduction of Anne-Elisabeth Falkevik Hagen, wife of Norwegian millionaire Tom Hagen. A ransom note found in the couple’s home demanded $10 million worth of Monero. Still, even with this tragedy generating global headlines, Monero’s use on illegal darknet marketplaces has stayed relatively subdued.
Within its Q2 2019 Cryptocurrency Anti-Money Laundering Report, blockchain forensics firm Ciphertrace revealed that a mere 4% of dark vendor payments involved Monero. Incredibly, Bitcoin still reigns king of the darknet, citing usage in a massive 76% of cases. Speaking to Cointelegraph, John Jefferies, CipherTrace CFA, suggested this originates via “liquidity issues,” adding that:
“While privacy coins offer bad actors a level of anonymity, the liquidity issues and barriers to entry for buying and selling privacy coins make them impractical for most dark market purchases.”
However, Tom Robinson, co-founder and chief scientist at crypto security firm Elliptic, told Cointelegraph that regardless of Bitcoin’s dominance within dark markets, privacy coins are still gaining steady traction and usability:
“Another trend we are seeing is the increased acceptance of privacy coins such as monero on dark markets where narcotics are available to purchase. Most new markets now accept monero payments, typically alongside bitcoin. This represents a threat to law enforcement’s ability to trace this kind of activity and bring those involved to justice.”
Incidentally, CipherTrace’s report for the third quarter 2019, also unveiled more about the state of crypto criminality in general. According to the researchers, a monumental $4.4 billion in crypto crimes and frauds were witnessed throughout this year, marking an extensive 2,500% increase since 2017.
Regulatory snooping increased in 2019
Regardless of their lack of use on the darknet, a regulative crackdown on privacy coins threatens to unstick anonymous crypto. In June 2019, the Financial Action Task Force instilled an initiative dubbed the travel rule. This required all firms facilitating crypto transfers above $1,000 to disclose customer information.
The rule came into being as a way to combat terrorist financing and money laundering via cryptocurrencies. However, skeptics perceived the policy as a direct impediment to financial anonymity. As a result, many exchanges have been left with no choice but to give privacy coins the boot.
Many privacy coins have suffered losses as a consequence of this. Dash, for example, cites a 76% retrace after its OKEx delisting, and Monero took a 59% hit from a peak of $111 in June following a booting from both ByBit and OKEx.
During a conversation with Cointelegraph, Jonathan Levin, co-founder and chief security officer of blockchain analytics company Chainalysis, maintains that it isn’t just a loss of liquidity to blame, but also a lack of regulatory compliance:
“We believe that the market decides, and currently, the non-privacy coins see the most momentum. This maintains a balance because they can be investigated when associated with illicit activity, but that requires resources and work.”
Regardless, according to Jefferies of CipherTrace, regulation — particularly AML practices — appears to be the key to lessening crypto crime:
“CipherTrace research has demonstrated that illicit Bitcoin is 39X lower in jurisdictions with strong anti-money laundering controls. So, regulation does quell criminal activity in crypto.”
With crypto criminality on the rise but the usage of anonymous coins plateauing on the darknet, one question remains: What are privacy coins actually used for?
In order to definitively answer this question, there needs to be a tool to trace the coins in the first place. However, one hindrance remains, they’re pretty much untraceable.
Thanks to the various algorithmic processes employed by privacy coins, such as Monero, Zcash and Dash, tracking specific addresses is close to impossible — at least, for now. Without a firm trail on activity, pinning down use cases and user demographics becomes difficult. However, that doesn’t mean people aren’t trying. Levin admits that privacy coins are an “active area of research,” adding, “we often find ways to trace the ‘untraceable.’” Indeed, the solution may already be right under their noses.
Florian Tramèr, a researcher of cryptography at Stanford University, recently uncovered a fatal flaw within Monero and Zcash. Concocting a remote side-channel attack that targeted the receiver of the coins, Tramèr exposed both the identity of the payee as well as the user’s IP address. Both Monero and Zcash have since patched the vulnerabilities. However, that doesn’t mean the same can’t be achieved again.
So, if blockchain forensics firms manage to make the breakthrough of private coin traceability, should it be employed?
The right to privacy is a fundamental one. Undermining this right could present numerous issues and repercussions for both investors and the crypto industry in general. Jefferies believes that an analytical approach should be employed:
“The line between those looking to preserve privacy (protect identity) and those looking to obscure bad deeds is drawn when a pattern of suspicious transactions is observed, or value threshold is crossed, triggering Suspicious Transaction Reporting and Cash Transaction Reporting.”
For Chainalysis, the right to privacy is a balancing act, as Levin told Cointelegraph:
“The two extremes of total anonymity and complete transparency are bad. Complete anonymity opens the door to illicit activity that, by definition, cannot be investigated. That’s not a world you want to live in. On the other hand, complete transparency means no privacy at all. That’s also not a world you want to live in.”
2020 and beyond
As for the future, trends and precedents set in 2019 and years before will likely endure. It can be expected that a harsh crackdown on money laundering via cryptocurrency will take place, which will of course negatively impact privacy coins. Moreover, given its monumental rise thus far, it’s fair to assume that crypto crime will also increase.
Levin agrees with this notion, hinting that a particular emphasis will be placed on investors raising awareness of crypto illegality and methods to combat it:
“We think 2020 will be the year that financial crimes such as tax evasion, market manipulation, and facilitating money laundering comes into focus for cryptocurrency stakeholders. Blockchain analysis will continue to be used to meet regulatory obligations and investigate crime.”
Jefferies of CipherTrace, by contrast, looks to foreign affairs, hinting at a continued effort to evade U.S. sanctions:
“I expect cryptocurrencies to take on a more important role on the geopolitical stage as North Korea, Iran, Russia try to leverage crypto to circumvent the superiority of the US dollar.”
As for privacy coins, it seems investors will have to temper their expectations going forward. Nevertheless, regulatory obstacles rarely keep cryptocurrencies pinned down for long. At the very least, the core benefit of privacy coins will persevere as long as there is someone in need of them.
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Author: Cointelegraph By Will Heasman
Ethereum is currently trading in a range below the $130 and $132 resistances against the US Dollar.The price is likely to bounce back as long as it is trading above the $120 support.There is a major bearish trend line forming with resistance near $132 on the hourly chart of ETH/USD (data feed via Kraken).ETH could spike towards the $120 support before it starts a real upward move.Ethereum price is showing a few positive signs versus the US Dollar and Ethereum PriceLooking at the chart, Ethereum price is trading above a few key supports such as $128 and $125. There are even chances of a downside spike towards the $120 level. Having said that, the bulls are likely to aim a new yearly high above $135 in the near term unless there is a break below $120.ETH Technical IndicatorsHourly MACD – The MACD for ETH/USD is slowly moving into the bearish zone.Hourly RSI – The RSI for ETH/USD is currently well below the 50 level.Major Support Level – $125Major Resistance Level – $132
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Author: Aayush Jindal
2019 was a crazy year for cryptocurrency enthusiasts and a number of interesting events happened throughout the last 12 months. It’s hard to keep track of the day-to-day activities taking place within the cryptosphere and there may be a few incidents some of our readers missed. At news.Bitcoin.com we took the opportunity to scan our most popular articles from 2019 in order to create a year-end list to share with our readers.
2019’s Most Popular News.Bitcoin.com Stories
Bitcoin.com’s writers are entrenched in the cryptosphere and every day our writing team is on the hunt for cryptocurrency-related news. During the last 365 days, a number of our writers have published news stories seven days a week to keep our readers informed. There’s been a number of developments in 2019, as the community is dealing with digital asset regulations, crypto exchange hacks, central banks practicing monetary easing, and people claiming to be Satoshi Nakamoto. The following is a look at news.Bitcoin.com’s most popular crypto articles in 2019 by order of the highest-trafficked content.
In September, news.Bitcoin.com’s Kevin Helms reported on the Reserve Bank of India’s regulatory guidelines imposed, which limited bank customers’ withdrawals from 137 financial institutions. Customers from these bank branches were only allowed to withdraw “1,000 rupees (approximately $14) per account for six months.”
After the news spread, a number of India’s citizens revolted and the government had to send police assistance to a few different banks located in Mumbai. The report highlighted how the current banking system, no matter what country you live in, continues to grow untrustworthy.
Across 2019, a great number of central banks and countries participated in practicing monetary easing. However, one specific economy, that has been considered the foundation of Europe, has been showing signs of financial failure. In August, Lubomir Tassev explained that the German economy is facing an economic crisis that could cause a domino effect throughout the EU.
2019 statistics had shown that Germany’s strong industrial economy saw significant declines in production. “[Germany] is now seeing a significant decline in production – by 2.7% year-on-year in January and 1.9% in April compared to the previous month,” Tassev detailed. “Then in May, factory orders declined 2.2% from a month ago and registered an 8.6% annual drop, the biggest in a decade.” The following month the country invoked a five-year rent freeze in Berlin.
In May, the cryptocurrency community found another suspect who might be the infamous creator of Bitcoin. Kai Sedgwick reported on how the name Paul Le Roux found its way into the cryptosphere last spring. During the Kleiman v. Wright lawsuit, Document 187 had shown an unredacted name and Wiki link which belongs to the criminal mastermind Paul Le Roux.
The document led people to believe that Le Roux was smart enough to create Bitcoin and the coincidental timing of his arrest was around the same time Nakamoto left the community. Speculators really started wondering if Le Roux was Nakamoto when an anon from 4chan’s /biz/ messageboard insisted that “Bitcoin was a project of a evil genius … Paul Solotshi Calder Le Roux.”
Satoshi Nakamoto was a popular topic in 2019, and a few of news.Bitcoin.com’s highest-trafficked articles are written about this legendary character. The day before Halloween, news.Bitcoin.com published a story about the fascinating clues left behind by Bitcoin’s notorious creator.
The editorial discusses Satoshi’s planning, theories as to why Nakamoto left the community, and conspiracy theories like the idea that Bitcoin was created by the CIA. Satoshi left behind a bunch of clues and said some interesting statements back when the monicker spoke on bitcointalk.org and the cryptography mailing list.
All year long Indian cryptocurrency enthusiasts have been waiting on the final word in regard to digital currency regulations in India. News about the regulatory situation started coming to life in the spring and in March, India’s government told the supreme court that the crypto regulations being drafted were near completion.
Attorney Jaideep Reddy of Nishith Desai, a lawyer behind a writ petition opposing the crypto banking ban by the Reserve Bank of India, told news.Bitcoin.com at the time: “The matter was heard for a very short period of time — The matter started with the counsel for the Union of India stating that its committee is in the final stages of deliberations and that the matter should be heard after that.”
During the first week of August, it was discovered that the giant retail corporation Walmart patented plans for a stablecoin backed by USD. The news followed Facebook’s announcement to launch a coin called Libra. Walmart’s attempt also followed the time when the company attempted to start its own banking services back in 2006.
At the time, politicians and financial incumbents opposed Walmart joining the banking industry and the firm got so much pushback it decided to quit the banking attempt. However, with a ‘Walmart Coin,’ the company could skip all the banking charter laws and offer customers a different kind of “savings” incentive through cryptocurrency dividends.
News about cryptocurrency laws in India was of great interest to news.Bitcoin.com readers in 2019. On July 26, headlines detailed that an Indian official who led the committee which had created the crypto ban bill resigned.
Former Department of Economic Affairs (DEA) Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg decided to apply for voluntary retirement after receiving flak from the Indian cryptocurrency community. Supporters of friendlier digital asset laws in India, called the drafted bill “flawed” and after a few controversial tweets about crypto, he left his post. Moreover, a few days prior, members of the Indian government told the public that digital currencies were not banned.
In the first month of 2019, news.Bitcoin.com’s Lubomir Tassev wrote a review about eight different crypto debit cards people can use around the world. The editorial discussed cards issued by firms like Wirex, Bitpay, Revolut, Cryptopay, and Fuzex.
The report explained the negatives and the positive benefits to a loadable cryptocurrency card. In addition to detailed information about existing crypto cards on the market, Tassev also wrote about the upcoming card companies that planned to launch in 2019. The editorial highlights how the use of crypto debit cards “significantly expands the usability of digital coins in the world.”
Banking System Failures, More Satoshi Lore, IRS Cracks Down on American Crypto Owners, and Onecoin Crumbles
There were a hell of a lot more popular stories last year and the eight mentioned above just scratch the surface when it comes to news.Bitcoin.com’s 2019 archive. Other reader favorites in our library this year included subjects like a possible Deutsche Bank collapse, how Citi, Deutsche, and HSBC laid off thousands of employees, the Indian supreme court’s struggles with drafting regulations, and the Philippines seeing 10 government approved exchanges.
There were plenty of Satoshi Nakamoto stories and unique editorials involving the mysterious creator of Bitcoin. The news about the U.S. tax agency telling the public they planned on sending 10,000 letters to American cryptocurrency owners shocked our readers. 2019 also saw the downfall of the biggest multi-level-marketing (MLM) crypto scam of all time when the so-called ‘Bitcoin Killer’ Onecoin crumbled.
What do you think about the eight most popular news.Bitcoin.com articles from 2019? Let us know what you think about the subjects and articles in the comments section below.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not an offer or solicitation of an offer to buy or sell, or a recommendation, endorsement, or sponsorship of any products, services, or companies. Bitcoin.com does not provide investment, tax, legal, or accounting advice. Neither the company nor the author is responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any ideas, concepts, content, goods or services mentioned in this article.
Image credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons, Fair Use.
Did you know you can verify any unconfirmed Bitcoin transaction with our Bitcoin Block Explorer tool? Simply complete a Bitcoin address search to view it on the blockchain. Plus, visit our Bitcoin Charts to see what’s happening in the industry.
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Author: Jamie Redman
Over the past few weeks, Bitcoin (BTC) has settled in and around the key $7,000 support level. Although some say that this price action is eerily reminiscent of that seen prior to 2018’s capitulation event, during which the price of the leading cryptocurrency tanked from $6,000 to $3,000 after consolidating for months on end, analysts say that the price of Bitcoin is readying for a strong bounce in the upward direction.Related Reading: Bitcoin Poised to Collapse Under $5,000? Market Cycle Fractal Suggests So Bitcoin Ready to Bounce Big Time? In a tweet that went crypto-viral, trader DonAlt noted that he thinks “we’re gonna bounce big time in the next 3-6 months,” drawing attention to the Bitcoin chart seen below. In it, he shows that BTC is consolidating above the key macro support in the low-$6,000s, which is where Bitcoin needed to hold in 2018 to see any chance of a reversal out of the previous bear market.He added in a reply to his original tweet that he’s “serious” in the assertion that the cryptocurrency market could soon jump. And other analysts agree.$BTCI’m pretty sure we’re gonna bounce big time in the next 3-6 months. pic.twitter.com/gfwhjLyJR1— DonAlt (@CryptoDonAlt) January 1, 2020
Per previous reports from NewsBTC, full-time trader Cold Blooded Shiller recently posted the below analysis of Bitcoin’s Renko candle chart, which shows the price action over the past three years.While there is little on the chart, the trader drew attention to two previous bouts of price action in BTC’s history, during which the price rallied by 32% and 40%, respectively, after a bullish divergence was formed between his indicator and the price.The same divergence is forming yet again, implying that BTC could soon rally by up to 40%, which would mean the price of the asset would take $10,000.Do with this chart whatever you please $BTC bulls. pic.twitter.com/5hADWZJb5B— Cold Blooded Shiller (@ColdBloodShill) December 31, 2019
That’s not to mention that a prominent analyst — one who called in October called the scam pump to the $10,000s and the latest decline to the $6,000s — said that he believes BTC is likely to rally 40% in the coming months.Related Reading: Federal Reserve’s Record $235 Billion Repo Intervention Validates BitcoinDo Bears Have Any Control?Although analysts across the board are leaning more bullish than bearish, there is some evidence to suggest that bears may still be in control of the cryptocurrency market’s directionality.Former Wall Street trader turned Bitcoin analyst Tone Vays said in a recent interview with BlockTV, an industry media outlet, that he still expects for Bitcoin to see “the next low to come in [during] the first quarter of 2020.” As to where this low in the cryptocurrency market will come in, the long-time cryptocurrency trader looked to the $5,000s, claiming that there’s a high probability Bitcoin will enter that range to put in a fresh low.#WEEKINREVIEW: “I think we could have a little bit of a rally into the close, but I’m not really expecting anything above $8,000 any time soon. I’m looking for the next low to come in in the first quarter of 2020.” – @ToneVays.See Tone’s full analysis: https://t.co/jhKiJ3gUWw pic.twitter.com/Wiz3A3irND— BLOCKTV (@BLOCKTVnews) December 27, 2019
This comes after November’s monthly candle close resulted in the Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD) — which is a “trend-following momentum indicator that shows the relationship between two moving averages of a security’s price” — crossing bearish for the first time since May of 2018, which was prior to Bitcoin’s extended bearish move from the $10,000s to the $3,000.Related Reading: Why a Fund Manager Thinks Bitcoin Will Rally 25% to $9,000 In One MonthFeatured Image from Shutterstock
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Author: Nick Chong
One of the proposals the board criticized is the administration’s plan to reduce Obama-era vehicle emissions standards for car and light truck models up to 2026. The 41 scientists in the board, many of whom were appointed by the Trump administration, said there are “significant weaknesses in the scientific analysis of the proposed rule.” They explained (PDF) that the economic models used to justify the rollback have weaknesses that lead to “implausible results.”
Meanwhile, they said the EPA’s plan to modify the Waters of the United States rule, which defines the waterways that can be federally regulated, is not fully consistent with established science. The change would reverse a rule that limits dredging and pesticide applications near smaller streams and wetlands, and the panel says it “neglects established science” that shows how contaminated wetlands and groundwater can spread to drinking water reserves.
The panel also advised the EPA to conduct a new risk assessment on the basis of its proposal to change mercury regulations for power plants. It asked the agency to look at all “relevant health outcomes for neonates, children and adults” and to widen its study of consumption of fish affected by mercury. The scientists could still revise their recommendations, though any revision must be published soon seeing as two of the proposed rules are set to be finalized this month.
Vermont Law School Patrick Parenteau told The New York Times, however, that the panel’s recommendations could stop the rollbacks from happening. “The courts basically say if you’re going to ignore the advice of your own experts you have to have really good reasons for that,” he said. “And not just policy reasons but reasons that go to the merits of what the critiques are saying.”
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Author: Team E-crypto News