US Justice Dept. To Develop ‘Comprehensive Strategy’ For Crypto

News | February 28, 2018 By:

US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has said that the Justice Department’s recently formed cybercrime task force is developing a comprehensive strategy for cryptocurrency.

During the Financial Services Roundtable’s spring conference this week, Rosenstein was asked about his views on cryptocurrency and cybercrime. He replied by saying that cryptocurrencies are a “new challenge,” and the Justice Department is planning on tending to the issue soon.

“A lot of these schemes involve bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, which do not flow through the traditional financial system,” he remarked. “What we’re working on now with our cybercrime task force is working on a comprehensive strategy to deal with that.”

The Justice Department’s Cyber-Digital Task Force, which will canvass the many ways that the department is combatting the global cyber threat, features representatives from a range of law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, the US Marshals Service, and the Drug Enforcement Agency, among others.

Rosenstein was also asked whether he is concerned that cryptocurrencies enable their users to remain anonymous. “It’s not true that anything is really fully completely anonymous, right?” he said. “We all know there are ways to trace criminal activity. Generally speaking, it’s not just about cyberactivity. There will be other ways that people will leave trails. Ultimately, even when dealing with cybercurrency, they’re going to want to convert, launder it into physical currency, and so there are ways to trace these operations.”

Rosenstein also said that part of the challenge to catching cryptocurrency and other cyber crooks is that many are based abroad. But he said the DOJ has had success on extraditing them from other countries. Alexander Vinnik, the alleged mastermind of a $4 billion bitcoin laundering ring, is expected to be extradited to the US in spite of Russian attempts to have him face justice in his home country.

Regarding the evolving entry of cybercrime, Rosenstein noted ransomware and botnets were unheard of five and 10 years ago. He urged Americans to use several types of identification in making purchases and other activities to aid their personal cybersecurity, not just a single one like a Social Security number.

In October 2017, Rosenstein spoke about encryption to a large crowd in Annapolis, Maryland asking for “responsible encryption.”

“When encryption is designed with no means of lawful access, it allows terrorists, drug dealers, child molesters, fraudsters, and other criminals to hide incriminating evidence,” he said at the time.