Cryptocurrency exchange Kraken has revealed some interesting data that is undoubtedly going to raise serious privacy questions among consumers in the United States. In a tweet from a few days ago, the exchange provided its annual Transparency report and showed how many subpoenas and other types of data requests it received from different law enforcement departments last year, all of which were designed to uncover personal data of Kraken users. In many instances, it would appear that the user was not even informed by law enforcement that he or she was being investigated.
Kraken states in the tweet, “It’s that time again. Here’s a snapshot of our Compliance team’s 2019 Transparency Report. Team America still ahead with 61% of total requests, down from 66% last year. Other geos gaining fast. Trend is obvious. Costs are increasing, even in a relatively flat market.”
It's that time again. Here's a snapshot of our Compliance team's 2019 Transparency Report. Team America still ahead with 61% of total requests, down from 66% last year. Other geos gaining fast. Trend is obvious. Costs are increasing, even in a relatively flat market. pic.twitter.com/4AMe11unoL
— Kraken Exchange (@krakenfx) January 7, 2020
Across the globe, the number of requests increased 49% from 2018 and a total of 1,222 accounts with the exchange were targeted. Of all of those, 62% saw data handed over to law enforcement—only 28% were considered to be “non-valid,” which the exchange explains means that the request didn’t meet “local legal requirements and/or our internal Law Enforcement production policy.”
The number of requests is a substantial increase over what has been seen in recent years, and is also an indication of how closely law enforcement departments around the world are now monitoring digital assets. In 2017, Kraken saw 160 requests, 2018 brought 475 and last year saw a total of 710. After the U.S., the U.K. and Denmark followed as the two most common sources of requests.
In the U.S., the FBI led the charge with 116 requests. The Drug Enforcement Agency was next with 73 and Homeland Security Investigations was third, in conjunction with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, with 65. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are also on the list, with 20 and 29 requests each, respectively.
This is also an indication of what has been stated about the true Bitcoin. It was never meant to work outside legal and regulatory boundaries, and it can be investigated and seized just like any currency. The continued scrutiny is going to help force the space to mature and become more responsible, which is going to benefit everyone.
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