Amazon Patent May Allow Law Enforcement to Monitor Cryptocurrency Transactions

It has been widely reported that Amazon has been granted a patent for technology to create a streaming data marketplace. The patent was filed back in 2014 but was just approved by the US Patent office this week.

You may read the Patent in its entirety here, but to provide an example of what this data marketplace may accomplish lets quote the actual text of the description;

“For example, a law enforcement agency may be a customer and may desire to receive global bitcoin transactions, correlated by country, with ISP data to determine source IP addresses and shipping addresses that correlate to bitcoin addresses. The agency may not want additional available enhancements such as local bank data records. The streaming data marketplace may price this desired data out per GB (gigabyte), for example, and the agency can start running analytics on the desired data using the analysis module. “

One of the attractions of exchanging in Bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies is the potential to anonymize the transaction. As you may imagine, many governments are not keen on being cut out of the transactional equation. Think taxes, profits or capital gains. Perhaps even more pressing for some, is the concern that criminals and terrorists may use (or may be using) digital currencies to move money around in an illicit manner. There is already legislation on Capitol Hill seeking to monitor and control cryptocurrency transactions. Perhaps Congress can just call up Jeff Bezos?

Well, it appears that is what team Amazon may have been thinking:

“One example is a data stream that publishes or includes global bitcoin transactions (or any crypto currency transaction). These transactions are completely visible to each participant in the network. The raw transaction data may have little meaning to a customer unless the customer has a way to correlate various elements of the stream with other useful data. For example, a group of electronic or internet retailers who accept bitcoin transactions may have a shipping address that may correlate with the bitcoin address. The electronic retailers may combine the shipping address with the bitcoin transaction data to create correlated data and republish the combined data as a combined data stream. A group of telecommunications providers may subscribe downstream to the combined data stream and be able to correlate the IP (Internet Protocol) addresses of the transactions to countries of origin. Government agencies may be able to subscribe downstream and correlate tax transaction data to help identify transaction participants.”

While I am pretty happy to do all of my shopping at Amazon, and maybe watch a movie or two, I am not certain how interested I am in having Amazon peeking into my crypto transactions.

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