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Two pieces of Bitcoin news this week seemed to point toward conflicting trends that are central to this era of the technology. As Bitcoin becomes more popular, regulators are seeking ways to monitor its use while, at the same time, more development and user effort is being pointed toward obscuring that use. It’s a battle that is likely to escalate for some time, and Bitcoiners are optimistic that their privacy efforts will ultimately stay one step ahead of the gatekeepers.
Coinbase Is Giving Blockchain Analytics Tools To The U.S. Secret Service
With some 35 million users and more than $7 billion in custody, Coinbase is one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world. Established in 2012 with a mission to offer bitcoin investment more widely than ever to that point, it also enjoyed a special prominence among new bitcoin investors thanks to its early entry in the space and relative ease of use — at least until the exchange market got a little more crowded.
It would be hard to call the exchange popular among Bitcoiners at this point. Its collection of user KYC data, listing of altcoins and controversial acquisition of blockchain analytics firm Neutrino in July 2019 have led some prominent voices in the space to speak out against it.
Still, a public record that surfaced this week indicating that Coinbase is providing blockchain analytics software to the U.S. Secret Service signaled a surprisingly non-Bitcoin move from the exchange. The contract shows that the Secret Service granted a $183,750, four-year contract to Coinbase, effective in May 2020 and running until May 2024, to access its Coinbase Analytics software. It’s been rumored that Coinbase has been seeking such a contract ever since it acquired Neutrino and the exchange has said that Coinbase Analytics is separated from its internal data and that…