End of Bitcoin? EU plans identity CRACKDOWN which will store the identities of ALL users: THE EUROPEAN Union has proposed a Bitcoin database to track the identities of users in a crackdown to fight terrorism and money laundering.
The move would see a central database holding key data on everyone who bought or sold Bitcoin on digital exchanges.
A new amendment to the anti-money laundering directive outlined the plan proposing a “central database registering users’ identities and wallet addresses”.
When the crackdown was first announced Europe’s Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova said: “Today’s agreement will bring more transparency to improve the prevention of money laundering and to cut off terrorist financing.”
A key factor of Bitcoin’s popularity is said to be its anonymity which allows people to buy and sell without being traced. This secrecy has given rise to crime with the currency becoming famous for its role in online drug markets and being linked to weapons sales and even assassinations.
The EU finally reached the decision last week to launch the original directive after a year of talks which were dragged out by worries about the impact legislation could have on member’s economies.
The new rules are part of a further reaching response to the Paris and Brussels terror attacks which claimed more than 160 lives in 2015 and 2016. In 2019 officials will review the database and how it has helped in the fight against terror and fraud.
The National Crime Agency said: “The report shall be accompanied, if necessary, by appropriate proposals, including, where appropriate, with respect to virtual currencies, empowerments to set-up and maintain a central database registering users’ identities and wallet addresses.”
The news came after experts revealed that UK businesses were stockpiling Bitcoin in a desperate bid to pay ransoms from hacking attacks.
The companies are worried about falling victim to ransomware attacks where cybercriminals threaten to steal or delete data if they are not paid.
Chief McAfee scientist Raj Samani said: “It’s not something that organisations have publicly confirmed because it says ‘We are willing to pay criminals in the event we are hit by ransomware’.
“However, it is certainly a practice we are aware of.”
Bitcoin is popular with hackers because it is much harder to trace than traditional currencies Attacks are reportedly so common that staff keep up with the current Bitcoin rates on exchange markets.
Former Ministry of Defence cyber chief Paul Taylor said in the Sunday Telegraph: “Companies are definitely stockpiling Bitcoin in order to be prepared to pay ransoms.”
Concerns have been raised that companies find it easier and safer to pay the ransom rather than report the hack to the police. SOURCE: EXPRESS.CO.UK