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Amazon, the world’s largest retailer, has a new patent that takes the unique authoritative opinion contrary to the decentralized pseudo-anonymous outlook for virtual currency—namely, bitcoin. The patent uses its data-stores to establish the active participants in bitcoin transactions so as to trade the said information on to a subscriber base, a crucial component that would be very useful in law enforcement.
Bitcoin among other digital coins are not even a decade old. However, most people have shown significant interest in using them due to their anonymity. This feature alongside several others has seen bitcoin rise in preference among other cryptocurrencies. As a result, it is being used in many legitimate transactions and legal trading processes as well as in illegal trading on the dark web and as the financial currency in ransomware.
Organized criminal gangs have been known to hide behind the anonymity of this virtual currency to conduct illegal business such as drugs dealing, gun trafficking, and money laundering. However, it has been discovered that the blockchain technology is not entirely and completely anonymous. Amazon believes that with the new patent, a significant amount of data can be leveraged to help in identifying those behind the anonymous bitcoin transactions.
This patent, which was recently awarded, was originally filed in 2014 and describes an exhaustive thorough approach on data which seeks to see Amazon partner together with other global retailers and telecommunication companies to distinctively link bitcoin transactions with unique IP and shipping addresses as required by Consumer News and Business Channel (CNBC).
The patent suggests that the generated “data stream”, could thereafter be used by government agencies for law enforcement and for tax purposes.
In an example cited in the patent, most government law and tax enforcement agencies might be in one way or another interested to subscribing into the “data stream” of important information that will allow them the ease of their job by accessing a list of global Bitcoin transactions against each country, tagged with ISP data to determine and ascertain source IP addresses and shipping addresses.
Even though this Amazon patent may be seen as a major breakthrough and even raise heated debates among those who hope to remain private and anonymous in their dealings with bitcoins, it would be crucial to note IP addresses have in the past proven not to be sufficient enough to convict a suspect in a court of law. Making it worse, the use of Tor or a VPN connection while transacting with bitcoin would immediately dismiss amazon’s patented system.
Amazon is yet to make any public statement, but with that in mind, the patent could be less targeting the bitcoin criminals and may be interested at illuminating the tax implication potential of using bitcoin in legitimate trades on legitimate online sites. Equally, the online retail global giant could have pushed to see the potential idea patented to discourage others from doing a similar thing.
In 2005, a patent owned by Hewlett Packard which related to cryptographic tokens was filed and may complicate patenting elements in the future. However, this patent was filed four years before the arrival of bitcoins.