Coinbase is Selling Data to US Government For Tracking Users’ Transactions – Report

June 30, 2022

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The largest cryptocurrency exchange in the United States is reportedly selling “geo-tracking data” to the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency which will help to track and identify crypto users across the states.

According to a report by watchdog group tech inquiry, Coinbase is currently on a three years contract with the US Department of Homeland Security.

In the report, Coinbase sold a single analytics software license worth $29,000 to ICE last year, after which a software worth $1.36 million was purchased which enables ICE to have access to forensic features provided via Coinbase Tracer, Coinbase intelligence-gathering tool.

The Tracer software allows governments as well as private sector clients to track transactions through the blockchain. The software tool helps follow the money trail from the source to the recipient. Coinbase markets Tracer for use in both corporate compliance and law enforcement investigations, touting its ability to “investigate illicit activities including money laundering and terrorist financing” and “connect [cryptocurrency] addresses to real-world entities,” According to the report.

With this tool by Coinbase, ICE is able to trace every transaction through most digital currencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum and Tether. 

One of the features of this tool is called Multi-hop link Analysis for incoming and outgoing funds offers insights into transfers of these currencies.

There is another feature called “Transaction demixing and shielded transaction analysis” that helps uncover users who launder their funds or camouflage their transactions.

The report also included Coinbase contract with the ICE also includes sharing users’ “historical geo-tracking data ” even though it is unknown what the data comprises and where it is sourced.

This year seems to be the most challenging year since the birth of crypto. We’ve witnessed many crypto firms like Coinbase laying off their staff while others are folding up. 

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Coinbase denies Allegation

Natasha LeBranche, Coinbase spokesperson said contrary to the report, Coinbase sourced its information from public sources and does not make use of Coinbase user data.

According to LeBranche, “All Coinbase Tracer features use data that is fully sourced from online, publicly available data, and do not include any personally-identifiable information for anyone, or any proprietary Coinbase user’s data.”

She however refused to share with the media how ICE was using the Coinbase tracker.

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