Former CIA director sees bitcoin as a “boon for surveillance”

Team Luno
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Bitcoin has enjoyed a credibility boost in recent years, but there’s still a common misconception that it’s a money-laundering tool for criminals. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Fortunately, there’s more than enough well-qualified people out there willing to correct these myths.


Last week, it was the turn of Michael Morell, a 33-year veteran and former director of the CIA. Morell wrote, in his paper titled “An Analysis of Bitcoin’s Use in Illicit Finance”, that the technology behind Bitcoin is actually a “boon for surveillance” and “a powerful but underutilised forensic tool for governments to identify illicit activity and bring criminals to justice.”


The paper was published by the recently-formed Crypto Council for Innovation led by Coinbase, Square and Fidelity Assets. The report mentions that bitcoin’s attachment to crime is “significantly overstated” and that “blockchain analysis is a highly effective crime fighting and intelligence gathering tool.”


We recently spoke to Simone Maini CEO at Elliptic, a blockchain analytics firm tracking crypto-related financial crime, who echoed Morell’s sentiments. And the data supports them – as of 2019, only $829m worth of Bitcoin was spent on the dark web in a six-year period. That equates to a mere 0.5% of all Bitcoin transactions.


Morell concluded that “people are typically fearful of what they do not understand.” Ain’t that the truth – but luckily Bitcoin will still be here when they eventually come around.

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Team Luno

On our way to the moon, we write about all things crypto. And don’t forget we’re humans too. Our blog conveys the views of Luno and the many unique opinions and characters within our team. We’ll never provide you with financial advice, and we urge you to conduct your own research before purchasing or trading any cryptocurrencies. It’s a brave new world out there, and the market can be volatile at times, so never trade with funds you can’t afford to lose. Want to let us know how much you love our blog? Tweet us @LunoGlobal.

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