有些比特币罪犯的名声我们早已耳闻。比如捷克的Thomas Jiikovský，他承认自己参与了一场价值高达1.5亿的庞氏骗局，这也被认为是第一宗比特币证券欺诈案。在这之后，前比特币大亨Mark Karpelès也已被警方在日本羁押，警方指控他在比特币交易平台Mt.Gox上实施欺诈、挪用公款。
据伦敦大学学院（University College London,UCL）计算机科学家Sarah Meiklejohn称，比特币刚刚面世的时候，司法界中也曾萌生恐慌。但几年过去后，多次逮捕和审判罪犯的案例都说明，比特币罪犯并不总是那么难被抓住。
这让监管和执法部门意识到，密码货币及其丰富的数据可以帮助他们跟踪比特币的踪迹。而且根据宾夕法尼亚州立大学（Pennsylvania State University）计算机科学家Patrick McDaniel的说法，我们应该把比特币看作一种“经济学前沿模式”。
As infamous bitcoin criminals like Ross Ulbricht have learned, it’s not impossible to get caught.
And, as law enforcement has learned, the dark side of bitcoin has its perks. At least, when it comes to catching criminals.
Criminals, for example, like the Czech national Thomas Jiikovský, who pled guilty to operating a $150 million Ponzi scheme in what is believed to be the first bitcoin securities fraud case. And then, there was Mark Karpelès, the former bitcoin tycoon, who is in police custody in Japan under charges of fraud andembezzlement for his Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange that went bust.
You get the point.
And now, a recent report from Science details how forensic researchers are using bitcoin for good, by tapping into its technology to catch those criminals who had the naive belief that they were safely cloaked in the veil of anonymity that was once thought to come married to bitcoin.
Because even bitcoin has a trail. A trail that these researchers say comes with a treasure trove of data that can help law enforcement crack down on criminals using bitcoin to live outside the law. After all, where there’s a will, there’s a way. And through the use of academic researchers who use forensics, economics and a mix of computer science, there’s a way to fire back.
That’s according to Sarah Meiklejohn, a computer scientist at University College London. What Meiklejohn said is that the introduction of bitcoin initially sprouted fear within the law enforcement community, but as the past few years, packed with arrests and trials, have shown, bitcoin criminals aren’t always so difficult to catch.
That’s led law enforcement to realize how cryptocurrency and its rich data can help them trace the bitcoin trail. And, according to Patrick McDaniel, a computer scientist at Pennsylvania State University, bitcoin is “the frontier of economics.”
What this means is: If a bitcoin, hypothetically, is just hoarded and never mixed back into the system, the bitcoin is safe. But once that bitcoin is spent or transferred, it opens up a Pandora’s box of forensic data.
Russia Looks To Crack Down On Bitcoin (Even More)
Russia really hates bitcoin.
Now, its lawmakers want to curtail any possible bitcoin activity by slapping a seven-year jail sentence on anyone who uses bitcoin for any sort of activity. But on the odd side? The Central Bank of Russia still has plans to review blockchain technology.
But, somehow, it still wants bitcoin activity to be illegal. At least, that’s what the draft proposal from the Russian Ministry of Finance is after in its new proposal. The lawmakers want to ensure that any currency in the country comes from the Central Bank of Russia.
Sounds about right for Russia. The country already has laws in place that indicate that being involved in the production, sale or distribution of any digital currency could land someone with one year of a correctional labor sentence. I guess that’s better than seven?
But, then again, the Ministry of Finance wants other stipulations attached to the laws, including a fine of up to 500,000 Ruble (~$7,100). And if the “criminal” can’t pay? They would have to give over their salary for a three-year period. Or go to prison for four years.
It’s safe to say that Russia won’t be getting bitcoin-friendly anytime soon.
Central Banks Eye Bitcoin-Like Digital Currency
While bitcoin was designed to be the libertarian-style currency — free from government rein — now, the chatter for central banks is how they could enable their own digital currency through a technology similar to bitcoin, in a manner that would be under the control of the central banks, like the Federal Reserve.
What this will be is a system known as RSCoin, which was designed by researchers at University College London and inspired by suggestions from the Bank of England. Of course, the U.K. has been far more interested in initiating projects using bitcoin and the blockchain than the U.S. This research started last year but, since then, has been discussed in a more serious manner.
Similar to bitcoin, RSCoin employs cryptography to form a digital currency. It also uses a process that involves verifying and recording transactions over a distributed ledger. But, unlike bitcoin, this ledger wouldn’t be controlled by a select number of users/computers (or have a limited number that’s causing the spat today in the bitcoin community). RSCoin’s ledger would be controlled by the central bank, leaving it in charge of the encryption key that controls the currency.
Certainly, bitcoin hasn’t gotten the approval of central banks across the board. But a digital currency controlled by the banks? That’s something they might be able to back.