Italian police expose major link between online crime and Bitcoin

A couple of days ago the Italian police announced the outcome of a major operation against a number of hidden services on the darknet.  There are several interesting aspects of the reports which appeared as a result of the fuller briefing given to  a number of media outlets, as opposed to the bare bones of the Europol press release:

1. In the course of the operation the police seized 14,000 Bitcoin wallets worth about 1 million euros (£700,00 or US$ 1.1 million)

2.  There was evidence that around 170,000 different transactions had taken place through the services in question. These covered a broad range of crime: drugs was a big part of it but also on offer were  false identity papers, hacker kits, credit card codes and other stuff.  The police got into this wider set of crimes through  an  initial operation which began with looking into the distribution of child abuse images.

3. It took the Italian police two years  to complete their work and get to the point where they could arrest the site’s organizer, seize the Bitcoin wallets, close everything down and announce the results.

4. I am sure two years  was needed but one is bound to wonder about the sort of world we have allowed to be created where it takes such a long time to  deal with  something like this. How much damage might have been done while the investigative processes were being completed using undercover policing methods? What level of resources was devoted to this action and  are they sustainable?

There has to be a  better way. We should all refuse to accept that this type of outrageous abuse of cyberspace is the inevitable price we must all pay in perpetuity for the many undoubted benefits the internet has brought to the world.

 

About John Carr

John Carr is a member of the Executive Board of the UK Council on Child Internet Safety, the British Government's principal advisory body for online safety and security for children and young people. In the summer of 2013 he was appointed as an adviser to Bangkok-based ECPAT International. Amongst other things John is or has been a Senior Expert Adviser to the United Nations, ITU, the European Union, a member of the Executive Board of the European NGO Alliance for Child Safety Online, Secretary of the UK's Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety. John has advised many of the world's largest internet companies on online child safety. In June, 2012, John was appointed a Visiting Senior Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science. More: http://johncarrcv.blogspot.com
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