UK Cybercrime Watchdog: Surveillance Law Could Boost Digital Currency Use

A controversial intelligence law passed by the UK last year could drive increased digital currency use according to a new report.

Jul 5, 2017 at 9:40 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 1:30 p.m. UTC

A controversial intelligence law passed by the UK last year could drive increased digital currency use, according to a new report.

The National Crime Agency (NCA), the UK law enforcement agency that focuses on organized crime and cybercrime, suggested in its 2017 strategic report that the tech could see more use among both criminals and the wider public after the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 – commonly known as the "Snooper's Charter" – became the law of the land last November. The report was published on June 28.

The law vastly expanded the surveillance powers of UK intelligence agencies, allowing them to collect more data from private companies, capture and dissect bulk communications, and hack into devices as part of investigations. It came into effect amid broad criticism from privacy advocates and journalists, though a UK rights group has since moved to challenge the law in the UK High Court.

Yet the NCA report – which notes that use of digital currencies "amongst both criminals and the public will continue to increase" – believes the Snooper's Charter may drive more people to leverage the tech, which while not anonymous affords greater privacy while transacting due to its pseudonymous and borderless nature.

The report's authors go on to state:

"This trend will be driven by easier, potentially ubiquitous, access and potentially as a response to the introduction of legislation such as the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 and Digital Economy Bill 2016-17."

The report itself doesn't call for any specific remedies to this perceived issue; rather, the authors ultimately write that "the widespread use of these technologies will continue to present a particular challenge".

Security camera image via Shutterstock

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