Amazon has unveiled plans that could allow law enforcement agencies to use big data to link Bitcoin addresses to their owners.
Documents filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office show that Amazon Technologies, a subsidiary of the Seattle tech conglomerate, has won a patent for a data streaming marketplace that it believes could help law enforcement agencies unmask Bitcoin users.
Simply put, the proposed marketplace would allow users to subscribe to individual data feeds, which would transmit detailed information in real time. Many of these data feeds would likely be inconsequential in isolation, but Amazon sees organizations such as law enforcement agencies subscribing to multiple feeds and then using dashboard applications to analyze data and identify correlations.
One potential use case involves law enforcement agencies using multiple data streams to analyze Bitcoin addresses, which are pseudonymous but can be combined with other data such as shipping addresses to unmask users.
From the patent:
“For example, a law enforcement agency may be a customer and may desire to receive global bitcoin transactions, correlated by country, with ISP data to determine source IP addresses and shipping addresses that correlate to bitcoin addresses. The agency may not want additional available enhancements such as local bank data records. The streaming data marketplace may price this desired data out per GB (gigabyte), for example, and the agency can start running analytics on the desired data using the analysis module.”
That’s just one of the data marketplace’s many potential applications, but it’s notable that Amazon envisions it as one of the platform’s top use cases.
Indeed, while blockchain-tracing tools exist, law enforcement agencies have often struggled to adapt their investigative methods to Bitcoin and other blockchain-based currency systems.
Identifying individual cryptocurrency users is also often an arduous process since investigators must find a piece of identifiable information that can be specifically linked to a cryptocurrency address.
Amazon’s data marketplace would largely automate that process, giving law enforcement unprecedented insight into cryptocurrency transactions but perhaps also driving the privacy-conscious toward anonymity-focused cryptocurrencies such as monero and zcash.
Featured Image from Pixabay