ICE Tracks Bitcoin Transactions, Says The Intercept

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, known as ICE, has signed a contract with Coinbase, the publicly traded crypto-currency exchange and custody company, to track transactions across multiple blockchains underlying Bitcoin, Ether, and other currencies. according to an article published on Wednesday by Sam Biddle of The Intercept.

The software, called Coinbase Tracer, offers several possibilities for tracing transactions in blockchains, as explained by Biddle after review a contract document associated with in the article, which was obtained by Tech Inquiry, a nonprofit that develops and uses open source software to track government procurement of technology by governments around the world.

The news follows the publication from a Baylor College of Medicine/Rice University study this month that suggested the alleged anonymity of crypto transactions could be breached by link analysis that traces the affiliation of unnamed digital wallets.

As explained by Biddle, the ICE contract document with Coinbase, which Tech Inquiry obtained through a Freedom of Information Act, allows ICE to “track transactions made through nearly a dozen different digital currencies, including Bitcoin, Ether and Tether” , and has “Analytical functions [which] include ‘Multi-hop link analysis for inbound and outbound funds’, giving ICE insights into transfers of these currencies, as well as ‘Transaction demixing and shielded transaction analysis’ aimed at thwarting methods some crypto users use to make their money. launder or camouflage their dealings.”

Also: How a paper blew up Bitcoin’s claim to anonymity

More details can be found in the “List of included services” section of the contract document. The other cryptocurrencies are Bitcoin Cash (BCH ABC), Litecoin (LTC), Eos (EOS), Stellar (XLM), XRP (XRP), Zcash (ZEC), Dash (DASH) and Horizen (ZEN). The contract also states, “All ERC-20 tokens are included with Ethereum”, referring to utility coins built on the Ethereum blockchain.

The software is offered on an “as a service” cloud subscription.

Biddle notes that last year it was reported by Vice’s Edward Ongweso that Coinbase won a $1.36 million contract with ICE, and it appears the Tracer program is part of that.

Also: Don’t expect to make money with Bitcoin or any other crypto this year

Biddle writes that ICE has not responded to a request from The Intercept, and Coinbase has responded to a request by referencing a standard disclaimer on its website.

ICE, a division of the United States Department of Homeland Security, not only participates in security investigations and immigration issues, but also investigates “wider transnational crimes, including various forms of financial crime,” Biddle writes.

Bidder notes that an accompanying email document states that “no End User License Agreement (EULA) applies to this license”, which may imply fewer restrictions on the use of the software.

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