Europe is moving fast investigating the movement of funds within their region to try and thwart off the acts of terrorism that has frightened the entire world. Immediately after the Paris attacks world leaders shouted out from podiums demonizing encryption and held secret emergency meetings to discuss cryptocurrency. The European Union has made it clear they are unhappy with encrypted services, they want to hire a blockchain investigator, and they want access to the SWIFT financial database now.
After the acts in Paris reports from the European authorities have been relentless offering insight to discussions they are having concerning terrorist activities. In an emergency meeting held with the EU interior and its ministers in Brussels the group swiftly arranged steps to regulate certain methods of payment. The EU Executive’s said they had plans to enforce new policy measures saying the idea was to, “strengthen controls of non-banking payment methods such as electronic/anonymous payments, money remittances, cash-carriers, virtual currencies, transfers of gold or precious metals and pre-paid cards in line with the risk they present”, Digital currencies like Bitcoin were briefly mentioned at the end of the meetings joint statement. A European Commission member said the goal was to, “to ensure a swift and effective freezing of terrorist assets throughout the Union.” With this comes investigation into the use of cryptocurrencies as well the representative stated saying:
“Among the sectors under assessment, the use of virtual currencies will be subject to particular attention,”— European Interior & Justice Ministers Meeting
The leaders in Europe are also considering cracking down on encrypted service providers like Apple, Google, and Telegram if they cannot offer backdoors to the devices they create. New policy they say is to be disclosed regarding the Investigatory Powers Bill that will enable courts access to encrypted databases held by tech companies. If these businesses comply they must give the authorities information if needed including browser databases and encrypted chat. The ministers say they don’t want to ban encryption but they are uneasy with the malicious groups they feel are online. The Telegraph UK reports a spokesperson from the Home Office explains the leaders need to work with providers he explains, “The Government is clear we need to find a way to work with industry as technology develops to ensure that, with clear oversight and a robust legal framework, the police and intelligence agencies can access the content of communications of terrorists and criminals in order to resolve police investigations and prevent criminal acts. That means ensuring that companies themselves can access the content of communications on their networks when presented with a warrant, as many of them already do for their own business purposes, for example to target advertising. These companies’ reputations rest on their ability to protect their users’ data.” The bill will have to face some hurdles within the Parliamentary process but Prime Minister David Cameron urges constituents to back the policies. In a statement on ITV Cameron said:
“As Prime Minister I would just say to people ‘please, let’s not have a situation where we give terrorists, criminals, child abductors, safe spaces to communicate’. It’s not a safe space for them to communicate on a fixed line telephone or a mobile phone, we shouldn’t allow the internet to be a safe space for them to communicate and do bad things.” — David Cameron
Following these bureaucratic decisions the investigative group Europol is looking for an Intern technical analyst who understands blockchains and digital currency. The office located in Hague wants someone who can “collect, store, process, analyse and exchange information and intelligence.” The Europol officials requirements for this job are very clear and the person should be relatively fluent in open source technology and also understand Bitcoin. Applicants must have, “Previous experience of working with open sources (collection, analysis and integration into reports) in either an academic or professional setting.” the internship also requires, “Elementary understanding of tracing and attribution of Bitcoin transactions and proven interest in blockchain technologies.” The organization seeks a qualified applicant by December 10th and the Intern if hired will receive a “monthly maintenance grant of 781 EUR per month” for their services.
On November 23rd European Union officials represented by the words of French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said they want access to the SWIFT bank payment database. SWIFT’s website reveals that access to this information is required to be approved by U.S. authorities and has made the situation problematic for examination. Europe currently must depend on data provided by the United States because there are only two servers available to ministers and banking executives. Sapin explains this is making investigations difficult saying, “Since we do not have the means to analyze the data located in Europe, we transfer all of this data to the Americans, who have the capacity to analyze it.” The service Society for the Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) collaborates with over 9,000 banks within the global economy. A very large portion of SWIFT usage comes from Europe and United States for monetary transactions and credit maintenance. Leaders involved with the mission to access financial data and payment railways believe that certain policy will be issued by the years end.
What do you think of Europes concentration on these activities? Let us know in the comments below.
Images courtesy of Redmemes and Pixbay
Jamie Redman is a crypto writer and a dragon on Tuesdays. Follow me on twitter @jamiecrypto
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