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EU Bitcoin Government The Almighty Buck

EU Set To Crack Down On Bitcoin and Anonymous Payments After Paris Attack (thestack.com) 275

An anonymous reader writes: Home affairs ministers from the European Union are set to gather in Brussels for crisis talks in the wake of the Paris attacks, and a crackdown on Bitcoin, pre-paid credit card and other forms of 'anonymous' online payments are on the agenda. From the article: "According to draft conclusions of the meeting, European interior and justice ministers will urge the European Commission (the EU executive arm) to propose measures to strengthen the controls of non-banking payment methods. These include electronic/anonymous payments, virtual currencies and the transfers of gold and precious metals by pre-paid cards."
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EU Set To Crack Down On Bitcoin and Anonymous Payments After Paris Attack

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  • Yeah... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 20, 2015 @04:16AM (#50968115)

    Just how many terrorists are using this again? Oh, right, that doesn't actually matter...

  • Um... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EmeraldBot ( 3513925 ) on Friday November 20, 2015 @04:21AM (#50968125)
    Um, and what about cash?
    • Re:Um... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 20, 2015 @04:29AM (#50968147)

      Don't worry, cash will soon be phased out. For your convenience, of course

      • Re:Um... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by PRMan ( 959735 ) on Friday November 20, 2015 @12:34PM (#50970315)

        Cash is already phased out.

        Take $12,000 out of your bank. Oh, that's right. You can't. They don't have that much. You have to call ahead.

        Okay, you have your $12,000. Now drive through Tennessee with it. What's that? You got pulled over for "drugs" and all the cash was seized?

        • Cash is already phased out. Take $12,000 out of your bank. Oh, that's right. You can't. They don't have that much. You have to call ahead. ...

          That may be true for law abiding citizens, but consider the drug trade. The people who grow opium in Afgahanistan or refine heroin in Columbia want to get paid from the cash sales to users in the U.S. and Europe. That mean a net outflow of funds from industrialized nations to third world countries to pay for the drugs. All international terrorists have to do is pay the suppliers in Afghanistan, Columbia etc. and have their agents collect cash from dealer networks inside the U.S. and Europe, maybe offering a

    • There's been a move for some time to put RFIDs with UUIDs on them in all EU banknotes.

      • put RFIDs with UUIDs on them in all EU banknotes.

        Why? They have machine readable serial numbers already.

        • by Zocalo ( 252965 )
          Because someone can point a very portable RFID reader at a pile of tagged notes and get all the serial numbers, number of notes of each type and total value of the notes in a few seconds vs. having to put them into fairly neat bundles and then drop them into a hopper of a fairly bulky machine that then runs them through a scanner one at a time, albeit at high speed, to read the serial numbers. It would also be very easy to have RFID readers in cash registers and other places that could automatically provid
          • by kuzb ( 724081 )

            ...or you could just deprecate physical currency entirely which would not only save the government a lot of money, it would make it pretty hard for someone to rob you without leaving a fairly obvious trail.

            • Don't we need a (small) black/grey economy ? Think about all the corner cases for which you might not want to leave a trail behind:
              - buying nuts from that odd lady on the farmer's market with the exotic nut tree
              - giving money as a present to your daughter, son
              - kid's paperoutes.
              - buying sextoys to spice up the relationship.
              - buying generic medicines accross borders because prices are actually affordable there.
              - donating to the homeless and less privileged.

              Not all things that are illegal should be.
              • - buying nuts from that odd lady on the farmer's market with the exotic nut tree
                She might be in need of a card reader.

                - giving money as a present to your daughter, son
                Trivial, already done with reloadable cards

                - kid's paperoutes.
                Um, pay in advance like reasonable people do.

                - buying sextoys to spice up the relationship.
                The shop will be listed on your statement 'dry cleaning'. Or something innocuous, maybe a charity.

                - buying generic medicines accross borders because prices are actually affordable there.
                You're

                • - buying nuts from that odd lady on the farmer's market with the exotic nut tree She might be in need of a card reader.

                  And a "business bank account" and a computer and ...

                  Putting cash in their cup is not necessarily the best way to help them, but a Square account would change their lives. Or donating to an organized charity. Or giving them a gift card for food. You know, being intentional.

                  I'm not sure if dictating what they should do is more helpful.
                  And as someone who has experienced first hand what ban

            • I suspect the politicians and bankers dream about doing that but realise that if they did it all at once they would piss off the general public too much.

              So instead they play the long game. They do not issue larger banknotes to keep up with inflation (and in the case of the US they actually stopped issuing existing denominations). They put in place reporting requirements for large cash transactions which again they don't update to keep up with inflation.

          • Re:Um... (Score:4, Interesting)

            by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Friday November 20, 2015 @07:12AM (#50968549)

            Hmm...

            So, could I use that same device (or a pirate copy) to figure out what's in a man's wallet? That would make it much easier to decide who to mug (do they still use that word?)....

            • by Zocalo ( 252965 )
              Unless the wallet was shielded (you can already get such things because of a similar scenario with contactless credit/debit cards), then absolutely. There are certainly reasons why this could be a good idea, but also lots of opportunities for it to be abused unless suitable precautions are taken - nothing new there, really.
          • Re:Um... (Score:5, Informative)

            by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Friday November 20, 2015 @07:48AM (#50968665)

            > Because someone can point a very portable RFID reader at a pile of tagged notes and get all the serial numbers, number of notes of each type and total value of the notes in a few second

            Not without raising the price of the bills quite a lot. Reading a few distinct RFID tags in a small box is one task, reading 100 distinct RFID's out of a stacked box of paper is still well beyond the limit of any RFID technology. And they can be magnetically obliterated trivially. (nd get all the serial numbers, number of notes of each type and total value of the notes in a few second)

            Putting an RFID reader where a money sorter passes individual bills might be effective in reading the bills casually, but RFID tags are still fragile. They don't take bending or folding well, and a great deal of money gets folded a great deal in normal handling. RFID tags also remain expensive: Adding $0.25 to the cost of making each bill would upset the US or EU mints quite a lot.

    • Um, and what about cash?

      You beat me to it - I was about to ask the same. Since 9/11, a new word got known by the US authorities - 'havala' - meaning cash only transactions of huge amounts. It is common in India when black money needs to be spread around, but it is a simple and favorite way for Jihadis to operate. They are more likely to use this rather than Bitcoin, Paypal or anything else.

  • by h33t l4x0r ( 4107715 ) on Friday November 20, 2015 @04:39AM (#50968159)
    It's not because bitcoin payments are anonymous or enable terrorists. Because they're not and they don't.
  • rights and implement more population control laws. Every time this happens we need to lose some rights and freedoms.

  • How Would That Help? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mentil ( 1748130 ) on Friday November 20, 2015 @05:00AM (#50968209)

    These include electronic/anonymous payments, virtual currencies and the transfers of gold and precious metals by pre-paid cards.

    Two problems here. Electronic payments can transfer from anything to anything else, meaning two accounts both external to the EU; the EU's rules would never touch that transaction. The payment can then be introduced into the EU if someone wanted to (and honestly it would never need to). It's the old trick of "abstract until it's legal."

    Second is that there's no point in only restricting cards that represent 'precious metals', since it represents a denomination that's indirectly backed by the metal. A card could just as conveniently represent the same value in base metals, or blue chip stocks, or frozen concentrated orange juice. Limiting prepaid card value to 500Euro or something should suffice.

    That said I don't see how any of that would've prevented the Paris attacks or allowed the accomplices to be found out after the fact. Wallet cash could've covered transportation, food and lodging; and the guns (probably the largest expense) were smuggled into the country anyhow. The total cost was probably less than 50k Euros, almost all of which was probably paid in cash to criminals who weren't going to try and trace their payment even if it were traceable (demanding cash because they don't want to be traced themselves). I don't know the details of the case though. All I see is politicians trying to push through a EU PATRIOT ACT.

    • OK, so how about offering some good, constructive and effective ideas to deal with the problem? As far as I can see, with the problems we are facing: terrorism, unsustainable growth, climate change etc - we don't have the option of not making any sacrifices at all. All we have is a choice of which sacrifices, and the time may run out on that as well. ISIS, Boko Haram and other vermin will only multiply, unless we actively stop them, and if we don't find a better way, we will end up with WWIII in some form,

      • OK, so how about offering some good, constructive and effective ideas to deal with the problem? As far as I can see, with the problems we are facing: terrorism, unsustainable growth, climate change etc - we don't have the option of not making any sacrifices at all.

        So, why should I offer ideas to deal with someone else's problems thousands of miles away?

        I should also note that I disagree with your list of insurmountable problems.

        That said...

        As to things like the Paris incident, it occurs to me to wonder h

        • by Antique Geekmeister ( 740220 ) on Friday November 20, 2015 @07:56AM (#50968697)

          > As to things like the Paris incident, it occurs to me to wonder how easy it would have been to wander through a crowded venue shooting people at random if some of those people had been armed themselves...

          The homicide rate with guns in the USA shows the difficulty. The idea that an "armed society is a politie society" was explored by Robert Heinlein in a number of his stories. In real life, the frequency of domestic violence and of violent neighborhood brawls remains so high that the deaths from household violence far outnumber those which might be saved by making personal firearms widely available.

          Your other suggestions have similar difficulties. "Raising everyone's standard of living" requires steps, like educating women and reducing the gross disparities between ruling elites and grinding poverty, and birth control to prevent simply creating more starving poor, with profound social and religious consequences that are often resisted by those currently in power.

          • The homicide rate with guns in the USA shows the difficulty. The idea that an "armed society is a politie society" was explored by Robert Heinlein in a number of his stories. In real life, the frequency of domestic violence and of violent neighborhood brawls remains so high that the deaths from household violence far outnumber those which might be saved by making personal firearms widely available.

            There is a wide range of household gun ownership among US states (from 10% to 60%) and no correlation between g

        • by pr0nbot ( 313417 )

          As to things like the Paris incident, it occurs to me to wonder how easy it would have been to wander through a crowded venue shooting people at random if some of those people had been armed themselves...

          If what you fear is getting shot, by a terrorist or anyone else, then it's worth pointing out that that's much much less likely in a society where no one has weapons except the bad guys (and the state, though I suspect many don't make that distinction).

          If what you fear is a cataclysmic situation where it ma

      • OK, so how about offering some good, constructive and effective ideas to deal with the problem? As far as I can see, with the problems we are facing: terrorism, unsustainable growth, climate change etc

        You presume incorrectly that there is "a problem". Terrorism is a negligible cause of death. In fact, violent death as a whole keeps decreasing.

        - we don't have the option of not making any sacrifices at all

        Who is this "we" you are speaking of? If you want to make sacrifices in order to deal with your fear of

    • by NostalgiaForInfinity ( 4001831 ) on Friday November 20, 2015 @09:54AM (#50969147)

      Two problems here.

      These are "problems" only from the point of view of anti-terrorism efforts, but these laws are useless against terrorism anyway. What these laws are for are mostly to extend the power of banks (by eliminating cheap competition) and police (by letting them go on fishing expeditions through your data).

      The total cost was probably less than 50k Euros, almost all of which was probably paid in cash to criminals

      Precisely. And they weren't going to comply with reporting requirements either.

  • They certainly are cracking down on prepaid phone SIMs, where the owner of the phone isn't identified. Apparently Belgium and Luxembourg were the only EU countries left which still had them, but they are phasing them out quicker (now!) than was planned. Apparently, there were just too many shenanigans done with them.

    I'm less sure about prepaid credit cards, we've got one of those in the household, but I didn't hear anything yet about them being phased out. They were offered as one means to limit losses in c

    • They certainly are cracking down on prepaid phone SIMs, where the owner of the phone isn't identified.

      So the criminal have to go back to killing people for their cell phones? Good to know...

    • They certainly are cracking down on prepaid phone SIMs, where the owner of the phone isn't identified. Apparently Belgium and Luxembourg were the only EU countries left which still had them

      That is certainly false. A lot of "eastern block" countries still have them like Romania, Czech Republic, I think Bulgaria. If you think they aren't "EU enough" there's also the UK (and probably Ireland) - where you don't even have mandatory ID card.

      And even with registration go on german ebay (Germany has mandatory regis

      • by 4im ( 181450 )

        They certainly are cracking down on prepaid phone SIMs, where the owner of the phone isn't identified. Apparently Belgium and Luxembourg were the only EU countries left which still had them

        That is certainly false. A lot of "eastern block" countries still have them like Romania, Czech Republic, I think Bulgaria. If you think they aren't "EU enough" there's also the UK (and probably Ireland) - where you don't even have mandatory ID card.

        And even with registration go on german ebay (Germany has mandatory registration since before 9/11!) and you can buy preregistered cards by 10-pack, 100, sometimes 500 and 1000.

        Well, that points out the fine quality of our local media reports then... </sarcasm>

  • Freedom (Score:5, Interesting)

    by louic ( 1841824 ) on Friday November 20, 2015 @05:38AM (#50968315)
    So to defend against attacks on our freedom we take away that freedom? Politicians have totally lost the plot.
  • So TFA is from the 19th, the meeting is on the 20th, and they already have draft conclusions? Why meet?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      To rubberstamp the "conclusions" handed down by the unelected banksters from behind the curtain.

  • More effective would be to go against the middlemen who buy oil from ISIS for half the market value and then make a nice profit by reselling it on the open market.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/... [zerohedge.com]

    Unless those middlemen are too big to fail and we can't do anything, of course.

    • More effective would be to go against the middlemen who buy oil from ISIS for half the market value and then make a nice profit by reselling it on the open market.

      http://www.zerohedge.com/news/ [zerohedge.com]... [zerohedge.com]

      Unless those middlemen are too big to fail and we can't do anything, of course.

      They haven't stopped the middlemen because they use bitcoin to buy ISIS' oil. That's why they *must* ban bitcoin and other alt-currencies, with cash next up on the chopping-block. /sarc

      Strat

  • by Chris Mattern ( 191822 ) on Friday November 20, 2015 @08:35AM (#50968839)

    ...were used to support the attack. But, hey, never let a good crisis go to waste, right?

  • by Theovon ( 109752 ) on Friday November 20, 2015 @08:49AM (#50968887)

    Because apparently Anonymous is on our side in this case.

  • Too bad there's this thing called CASH, which is just as anonymous as Bitcoin. I feel for law enforcement's need, but I also have a right to go to the store and buy some gum and a soda and not have it tracked.

    The way things are going these days, I'm waiting for the FBI and Interpol pre-crime divisions to be spun up any day now.

  • Coincenter Response (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Canth7 ( 520476 ) on Friday November 20, 2015 @08:53AM (#50968903)
    Coincenter, a firm established to help guide policy creation with regard to crypto currencies, has a excellent response. https://coincenter.org/2015/11... [coincenter.org]
  • Ridiculous! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MagickalMyst ( 1003128 ) on Friday November 20, 2015 @09:01AM (#50968943)
    Why not crack down on government corruption, banking fraud and pedophile rings instead? Something effective that would actually make a difference in the world...
  • wow, man. terrorists love the chaos and publicity that they receive. they love the reactions, the outrage, the responses that they get, because they don't need to do anything other than kill a few people, and the rest of the damage people - and governments - do *to themselves*. trying to "crack down" on anonymous payments all in the name of "terrorism"... it's amazing. i look forward to a time when people - and governments - understand that terrorising *ourselves* with the knee-jerk after-reactions ofte

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