The Web is part of society and is shaped by society. And until society is a crime-free zone, the Web won’t be a crime-free zone.
So what is a cryptocurrency? A cryptocurrency is a decentralised payment system, which basically lets people send currency together over the net without the necessity for a trusted alternative party like a bank or financial institution. The transactions are cheap, and oftentimes, they’re free. And also, the payments are pseudo anonymous as well.
In addition to that, the key feature is that it’s totally decentralised, which means that there’s no central point of authority or anything like that. The implications of the is completed by everyone having a full copy of all transactions which have ever happened with Bitcoin. This creates an incredibly resilient network, which means that there is no-one to change or reverse or police any of the transactions.
The advanced level of anonymity in there ensures that it’s very hard to trace transactions. It’s not totally impossible, but it’s impractical in most cases. So crime with cryptocurrency– because you’ve got fast, borderless transactions, and you’ve got a advanced level of anonymity, it in theory creates a system that is ripe for exploitation bitcoin. So typically when it’s an offense online with online payment systems, they tend to attend the authorities and, say, we could hand over this payment information or we could stop these transactions and reverse them. And none of that may happen with Bitcoin, so that it helps it be ripe for criminals, in theory.
In light of the, a lot of different agencies are researching into Bitcoin and looking at Bitcoin and trying to know how it works and what they are able to do to police it. It’s already been in the media many times, and the media, being the media, like focus on the bad side of it. So they focus very heavily on the crime with it. So if there’s a theft or a scam or something like this, they have a tendency to blame it on Bitcoin and Bitcoin users.
So probably the most notable is probably Silk Road, which got taken down recently, and through their $1.2 billion worth of Bitcoins, went to cover anything from drugs to guns to hit men to those sorts of things. And the media, again, quickly the culprit this on Bitcoins and say that it was the Bitcoin user’s fault.
But there’s actually hardly any evidence of the scale of the situation of crime with cryptocurrencies. We don’t know if there’s a great deal or we don’t know if there’s a little. But despite this, people are extremely quick to brand it as a criminal thing, and they forget the legitimate uses, like the fast and quick payment.
So a few research questions I’m looking at in this area is what does crime with Bitcoin seem like? So a lot of people will claim that scams and thefts have now been going on for ages. However the means through that they happen changes with the technology. So a Victorian street swindler would practically be doing something very dissimilar to a 419 Nigerian prince scammer.
So another question that I’d like to analyze as well is looking at the scale of the situation of crime with cryptocurrency. So by generating a log of known scams and thefts and things like that, we can then cross reference that with the general public transaction log of transactions and see the amount of of the transactions are now illegal and criminal. So my final question could be, as to the extent does the technology itself actually facilitate crime? By looking back at the crime logs, we could see which particular sorts of crime happen, and if it’s actually the technology’s fault, or is this just the same kind of crimes that we’ve been looking at before. And once we’ve consider these things, we could start to take into account possible solutions to the problem of crime with Bitcoin.
And we could consider that the sole suitable solution could be one which preserves the underlying values of the technology itself, which may be privacy and decentralisation. Lots of focus from the media is to go through the criminal aspects of it. And they don’t give enough value to the legitimate uses, because Bitcoin is a technology that permits fast, quick payments, which can be helpful to anyone that’s ever paid for anything on the web.