Governments Are Snooping On You

by Marvin Dumont

“Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker,” wrote John Adams in 1765, who is one of America’s Founding Fathers.

Some 250 years later, bureaucrats are trampling on the Bill of Rights — and it’s happening elsewhere, too. Beijing is rolling out A.I.-powered facial recognition tech that lets the regime identify in real-time any of China’s 1.5 billion citizens. Police (who wear surveillance eyewear) and CCTV cameras track everyone’s behavior. And each person is assigned a “threat score.”

Some blockchain startups are using innovation to protect people’s privacy. But governments are using powerful tech to invade it.

In the United States, spending by federal agencies on blockchain analytics nearly tripled to $5.7 million as of Aug. 2018 when compared to all of previous year, according to research firm Diar. The money is used to link real-world identities to pseudonymous or anonymous crypto addresses.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and FBI combined for 85% of total spending, according to Diar’s analysis of public records.

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Spending will increase significantly in 2019. Taxpayer funds are awarded to blockchain forensics firms such as New York-based Chainalysis which raised $30 million from investors in Feb. 2019. Last year, the firm launched anti-money laundering (AML) software called Chainalysis KYT (know your transaction) that unmasks private data.

The problem with trusting third parties is that many are unethical — and many choose to act illegally or to violate the constitution if it serves their interest. And they tend to lose sensitive data to hackers.

In the digital age, protecting your privacy will seemingly require much proactive effort.


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