German Bitcoin Exchange Voluntarily Hands Over Users’ Information

 

Bitcoin.de, the largest German Bitcoin exchange has been voluntarily giving their users’ private information to German police in an effort to crack down on darknet markets. This means that the users of this exchange have been being tracked by law enforcement, simply because they have been using this exchange.

 

Law enforcement around the world has been pushing to shut down the dark web markets, and have been largely successful in doing so: shutting down prominent ones like the Silk Road, and more recently Alphabay, and Hanse .

 

To be fair, it is not the fault of the law enforcement authorities to be asking for this information, that would be their job. The outrage lies in Bitcoin.de due to them taking no steps to protect their users’ information.

 

This breach in privacy came as shock to the crypto community, as the exchange wasn’t even compelled to give up their users’ information with a court order. According to an article on Vice, the exchange was asked by the German Ministry of Finance, and was not given a letter of obligation, which would have made it necessary for them to hand over information. 

Similarly, Coinbase, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, has been vehemently fighting against the IRS to protect their users’ data, an action that is widely praised by the crypto community.

In fact, one of the main draws of cryptocurrencies is their anonymity, and this reason alone is why so many people have adopted cryptos like Bitcoin. By betraying this principle, Bitcoin.de is alienating a large part of their base, meaning that it would be expected for them to lose quite a bit of traffic in the coming days.

When you have a community that values their privacy as well as their anonymity, it is incredibly foolish to be freely handing over their information, without being compelled to. A small amount of these people may or may not have been involved in illicit activities regarding Bitcoin, however the police should have to go through the proper steps before being allowed access to people’s information. In this case all they had to do was ask.