The safety of Monero (XMR) users could soon be at risk after cryptocurrency intelligence company CipherTrace announced it was developing tools to enable law enforcement to track transactions on the privacy-focused blockchain.
CipherTrace claims that XMR transactions can be tracked
According to an August 31 press release, CipherTrace worked with the Science and Technology Directorate of the US Department of Home Security to develop Monero tracing technology.
The tools are used to aid the Department of Home Security’s investigation into activities related to the illegal use of XMR. CipherTrace CEO Dave Jevans said:
“Our research and development team spent a year developing techniques to provide analytical tools to financial investigators. There is still a lot to be done, but CipherTrace is proud to announce the world’s first Monero tracing feature. “
The technology is said to include “search, exploration and visualization tools” for Monero transactions to be used in conjunction with CipherTraces’ “financial investigation product”. The ability to identify wallets and track XMR transactions through exchanges is also mentioned.
CipherTrace claims that the ability to track Monero transactions will benefit from mutual funds, cryptocurrency exchanges, and OTC trading counters that can now list XMR without fear of accepting coins from illegal sources.
Monero use case at risk?
However, if CipherTrace’s claims are truly legitimate, such platforms would likely be reluctant to list Monero in the future.
Given that unbreakable privacy is at the core of Monero’s identity, what use would a trackable version of the cryptocurrency have over any other publicly trackable cryptocurrency?
Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong told Peter McCormack’s podcast audience in July that while he would personally like to see Monero listed on the Coinbase platform, concerns about its privacy-centric nature with U.S. regulators have deterred him. Armstrong said:
“A lot of these are conversations behind the scenes where [regulators] say, so to speak: ‘We very much think that you shouldn’t do that …’ “
CipherTrace cites research showing that 45% of illegal marketplaces on the darknet accept Monero as a usable cryptocurrency.
However, the same study concluded that Bitcoin remained the currency of choice for darknet markets. Given that Bitcoin can be anonymized via third-party coin-mixing tools, the obvious focus on Monero as a regulatory threat vector could be argued as irrational.
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