Amazon has been granted a patent for a system that could track and identify Bitcoin users and feed their details to law enforcement agencies.
One of the most appealing things about Bitcoin for the people who use it is the fact that it’s difficult to track. This also happens to be one of the cryptocurrency’s most controversial qualities, and something that has made it popular with cybercriminals.
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Amazon submitted the patent application, which was first spotted by CNBC, in September 2014, but it was only approved this week.
It describes how the company would set about identifying the people behind Bitcoin purchases.
“A group of electronic or internet retailers who accept bitcoin transactions may have a shipping address that may correlate with the bitcoin address,” it reads. “The electronic retailers may combine the shipping address with the bitcoin transaction data to create correlated data and republish the combined data as a combined data stream.
“A group of telecommunications providers may subscribe downstream to the combined data stream and be able to correlate the IP (Internet Protocol) addresses of the transactions to countries of origin.”
If you thought that was scary enough, there’s more:
“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,” it continues.
As is always the case with patents, there’s no guarantee that Amazon’s vision will ever become a reality. However, the news of its existence may have caused a few Bitcoin users’ neck hairs to stand on end.
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