Recently, Cointelegraph reported that Coinbase, the major crypto exchange, has come under fire “for its alleged efforts to sell crypto surveillance services to both the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Internal Revenue Service.”
Coinbase has responded by saying, “the company’s analytics services do not share any personally identifiable data with law enforcement,” and that it sources all data from publicly available information.
Some dispute Coinbase’s claims, and a source who worked in compliance with crypto exchanges revealed “that multiple government entities have been actively monitoring users across nearly every centralized exchange and custodial crypto service provider for years.” The anonymous source also claimed that this activity goes back to the early days of Bitcoin, and that after the Mt Gox incident, it increased and intensified.
The source told Cointelegraph: “I’ve worked for crypto exchanges, bitcoin ATM companies, general crypto services providers, and more. They all engage in surveillance practices. They have no choice.”
They also explained, “that the U.S. government’s favored methodology is called a Suspicious Activity Report, or SAR. While SARs are common in most money transmission businesses, crypto SARs appear to operate under different standards.” They said: “In traditional institutions, a transaction needs to meet certain criteria in most cases to be deemed suspicious. That’s not really true for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies though. As far as the government is concerned, the threshold of ‘suspicious’ is met as soon as cryptocurrency is involved.”