Like still happens with fiat currency, the link between cryptocurrency and criminal activities is always worrying. That’s why Thomson Reuters and the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC) teamed up to create a task force that can study, and hopefully tackle, this connection.
The task force is working with the Bitcoin Foundation to explore the role of decentralized currencies in the crime world, trying to find out how to stop criminals to launder money via digital payment systems and then use the funds to support activities like human trafficking or child pornography.
After credit cards practically stopped being used to purchase child porn online – mainly because ICMEC managed to caught a lot of the people using them thanks to the tracks they left behind -, the buyers had to find other solutions and, currently, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are one of the answers.
“We saw the use of credit cards for these things virtually disappear. One thing that we discovered was that the organized criminals behind these enterprises didn’t go out of business. Several months ago we concluded that we didn’t end it, we just moved it”, says Ernie Allen, president of ICMEC.
With a new goal in their hands, the members of this task force will first study the problem and explore a digital economy that is far bigger than just Bitcoin. “Our goal is to bring together a group of people in a voluntary collaborative way to look for balanced, reasonable solutions that protect the strengths of a digital economy, recognizing the enormous potential for financial inclusion and engaging the 2.5 billion adults on the planet who have no access to banks or the mainstream payment system, while finding a way to give law enforcement the ability to address the abuses”, Allen adds.
For now, the task force – which also counts with institutions like Cato Institute or the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – will include several groups that will target specific aspects of the problem, from law enforcement to regulatory concerns, as well as human rights issues. According to ICMEC’s president, the group is “spending a good deal of time on defining the problem itself. So much of what we know is anecdotal, and we’re talking about criminal enterprises operating under virtual anonymity”.