The Web is part of society and is shaped by society. And until society is a crime-free zone, the Web won’t be considered a crime-free zone.
So what is a cryptocurrency? A cryptocurrency is a decentralised payment system, which basically lets people send currency to each other over the internet without the need for a dependable alternative party like a bank or financial institution. The transactions are cheap, and in many cases, they’re free. And also, the payments are pseudo anonymous as well.
Along with that, the key feature is that it’s totally decentralised, meaning there’s no single central point of authority or anything like that. The implications of this is done by everyone having the full copy of all of the transactions which have ever happened with Bitcoin. This creates a really resilient network, meaning no one can change or reverse or police some of the transactions.
The advanced of anonymity within means that it’s very hard to trace transactions. It’s not totally impossible, but it’s impractical in many cases. So crime with cryptocurrency– because you’ve got fast, borderless transactions, and you’ve got a advanced of anonymity, it in theory creates something that is ripe for exploitation. So generally when it’s an offense online with online payment systems, they tend to go to the authorities and, say, we are able to hand over this payment information or we are able to stop these transactions and reverse them. And none of that could happen with Bitcoin, so it helps it be ripe for criminals, in theory.
In light of this, a lot of different agencies are researching into Bitcoin and considering Bitcoin and trying to understand how it works and what they can do to police it hotgraph. It’s already been in the media quite a few times, and the media, being the media, like give attention to the bad side of it. So they focus very heavily on the crime with it. So if there’s a theft or a fraud or something that way, they often blame it on Bitcoin and Bitcoin users.
So probably the most notable might be Silk Road, which got taken down recently, and through their $1.2 billion worth of Bitcoins, went to pay for anything from drugs to guns going to men to those types 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 very little proof of the scale of the problem of crime with cryptocurrencies. We don’t know if there’s a whole lot or we don’t know if there’s a little. But regardless of this, people are very 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 considering in this region is what does crime with Bitcoin appear to be? So a lot of people will claim that scams and thefts have already 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 research as well is considering the scale of the problem of crime with cryptocurrency. So by generating a log of known scams and thefts and things such as that, we can then cross reference that with the public transaction log of transactions and see the amount of of the transactions are in fact illegal and criminal. So my final question will be, to what extent does the technology itself actually facilitate crime? By looking back at the crime logs, we are able to see which particular types of crime happen, and if it’s actually the technology’s fault, or is this just the same old crimes that we’ve been considering before. And once we’ve consider these exact things, we are able to start to consider possible methods to the matter of crime with Bitcoin.
And we are able to consider that the only real suitable solution will be one that preserves the underlying values of the technology itself, which may be privacy and decentralisation. A lot of focus from the media is always to look at the criminal aspects of it. And they don’t give enough value to the legitimate uses, because Bitcoin is a technology that allows fast, quick payments, which is helpful to anyone that’s ever paid for anything on the web.