DOJ Warns of Possible 'Oncoming Storm' in Report Detailing Dangers of Terrorist Use of Crypto

The Department of Justice has released a ‘first of its kind’ framework for policing the cryptocurrency space.

Oct 8, 2020 at 4:37 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 10:06 a.m. UTC

U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr announced Thursday the release of “Cryptocurrency: An Enforcement Framework,” a roadmap for policing the cryptocurrency landscape.

  • The framework provides a comprehensive overview of the emerging threats and enforcement challenges associated with the increasing prevalence and use of cryptocurrency, Barr said.
  • An 83-page document accompanying the release included three sections – threat overview, law and future strategies – to guide DOJ's handling of the space.
  • The document's release comes two years after former Attorney General Jeff Sessions convened a "Cyber-Digital Task Force" to study the ramifications of technological advances.
  • “Despite its relatively brief existence, this technology already plays a role in many of the most significant criminal and national security threats our nation faces," said Associate Deputy Attorney General Sujit Raman, chair of the Cyber-Digital Task Force, which wrote the report. 
  • There are a number of instances where the DOJ will exert its authority over foreign actors, the report said, namely when "virtual asset transactions touch financial, data storage or other computer systems" with the U.S., if they use crypto to import illegal goods into the country and if they provide illegal services" to defraud or steal from U.S. residents.
  • The report at times sounds an almost apocalyptic note: "Current terrorist use of cryptocurrency may represent the first raindrops of an oncoming storm of expanded use that could challenge the ability of the United States and its allies to disrupt financial resources that would enable terrorist organizations to more successfully execute their deadly missions or to expand their influence.”
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