Europol, Europe’s international and largest police organization, is looking into suspicions of Bitcoin being used to pay for child abuse of the internet.
Rob Wainwright, Europol’s director, believes that cryptocurrency is being used to pay for images and webcam videos from pedophiles so that their activities cannot be traced. Indeed, Wainwright himself believes that this makes it much harder, if not impossible, for his team to catch the criminals:
“Sorry, but it’s happening online and it’s extremely difficult for us to identify…..The level of depravity seems to be descending year on year, frankly, including what seems to be in vogue now, which is live webcam ‘shows’ of toddlers not just being raped but being burnt with cigarettes.”
Wainwright has criticized the slow response of authorities to tackling the curve ball thrown by Bitcoin’s anonymity, saying that equivalent levels of crime in the real world would be front page news: “It is frustrating that we are not getting the message out, at least not loud enough for legislators to hear it.”
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To be sure, there are pros and cons when it comes to tracing crypto activity. While transactions are technically anonymous, they are entirely traceable- the missing link is connecting ID’s and addresses with names.
In the arrests of Charlie Shrem and Robert Faiella, police managed to infiltrate their online activity and monitor the two’s activities. In February, two men from southern Florida were arrested for money laundering activities using Bitcoin by undercover cops.
Following the Silk Road arrests, former policeman, now computer security consultant Nigel Phair said:
“There is a perception among many law enforcement and regulatory agencies that it is all too hard to conduct investigations involving TOR, so never start. There needs to be much more training of general investigators in conducting technical lines of inquiry, including the purchase of forensic discovery equipment if we are going to make a dent in this problem.”