Cryptocurrency exchange Bittrex announced impending delistings for four tokens as of Jan. 15.
As privacy tokens, the four fit into a category that is increasingly under threat from governments worldwide.
Happy New Year?
Privacy tokens, as the name suggests, are relatively difficult for investigators to track. Their use is rising, and some tokens have been in regulators’ sights for a while.
Back in November, Bittrex announced the delisting of 23 tokens for a variety of performance or regulatory issues. The exchange also singled out Grin at that time as a possible target for future delisting. Readers should note that Bittrex also pointed to MEME and VRC for possible delisting.
In Sep. 2020, the US government offered up to $1.25 million to the team(s) that could crack Monero’s or the Lightning Network’s encryption. The announcement carried a sense of urgency, considering that tight time frames were included in the rules. In particular, Monero seems to be a thorn in the regulators’ side. The request for proposals specified that a Lightning Network on Bitcoin monitoring tool already existed. However, tools for Lightning on Litecoin and on Ethereum were needed.
Europe is gravely concerned
In October, EUROPOL, the EU’s united policing body, released the Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment (IOCTA) for 2020. Privacy coins ranked among the top threats. Mixing services and anonymization are evolving, the report noted. Moreover, crypto-enabled crime adapts quickly to the changing landscape.
Governments focused their attention on more than privacy coins in 2020. They turned to encrypted communication as well, and saw a threat. The European Union emphasized this in early November. The EU Council of Ministers issued a proposal regarding a resolution forbidding end-to-end encryption of communications. This proposal affected What’s App and Signal in particular.
While the proposal was non-binding, it shows where the EU is heading in terms of privacy. The authors of the proposed resolution point to the need to balance individual privacy concerns with fighting crime.
A decentralized workaround?
While regulation tightens around current-generation privacy coins and end-to-end encryption, new privacy-oriented technologies will appear. Dust, which is supported by Mark Cuban, and Status, are both decentralized communication apps. Blockchain and decentralization changed money and information flows; these apps intend to do the same for communications.