A group of government agencies, law enforcement groups and academic researchers are partnering on a new digital currency surveillance project.
Backed by €5m in funding from the European Union, the initiative, dubbed "Tools for the Investigation of Transactions in Underground Markets", or TITANIUM, will be conducted over the next three years.
Participants include Interpol, Interior Ministries from Spain and Austria, Finland's National Bureau of Investigation, and University College London, among others.
In statements, the project's backers cited a recent wave of ransomware attacks around the globe, pointing to the event as a justification for beefing up the ability to track cryptocurrency payments.
At the same time, those involved pledged not to violate user privacy rights.
"The consortium will analyse legal and ethical requirements and define guidelines for storing and processing data, information, and knowledge involved in criminal investigations without compromising citizen privacy," said Ross King, senior scientist for the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH, one of the research institutions taking part.
That the EU would take this approach – let alone fund one – is perhaps unsurprising, given past efforts and statements from leaders and officials of the economic bloc.