Digital currency is struggling to gain legitimacy and win the trust of the public. And reports of criminal use, from Ross Ulbricht’s Silk Road sentence to allegations that ISIS is using bitcoin to fund their activities, do nothing to help.
But a public-private forum connecting leaders in the digital currency industry with law enforcement aims to change all that. The Blockchain Alliance, formed last week, wants “to help combat criminal activity on the blockchain,” according to their website.
(What is the blockchain, you ask? Check out this Technical.ly Brooklyn piece for some answers.)
The goals go beyond just stopping the bad guys, however — the Alliance also wants to improve the public perception of bitcoin and blockchain-powered technologies. As the website goes on to declare, “by addressing misperceptions about Bitcoin, other digital currencies, and the blockchain generally, and by highlighting the industry’s good-faith efforts to cooperate with investigations, we can promote an approach to enforcement and regulation that does not stifle innovation.”
The so-called “forum” will take the form of an email list encouraging cooperation and conversation among industry leaders and U.S. law enforcement agencies, according to Fortune. Neither the general public, nor the press, will be involved.
The Alliance was founded by the Chamber of Digital Commerce and Coin Center, and will include a host of other industry participants including Gavin Andresen of MIT Media Lab’s Digital Currency Initiative, as well as BitFinex, BitFury, BitGo, Bitnet, BitPay, BitStamp, Bloq, Circle, CoinBase, CoinX, ItBit, Kraken, Noble Markets and Xapo.
On the law enforcement side the Alliance will partner with the Department of Justice, the FBI, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and others. A press release also made clear the Alliance’s plans to include other U.S. and foreign agencies in the future.
Jason Weinstein, formerly deputy assistant attorney general in charge of cybercrime investigations at the Department of Justice, will be the director of the Blockchain Alliance.
As Perianne Boring, president of the Chamber of Digital Commerce summed it up, “It’s no secret that Bitcoin has perception issues, which is a roadblock to mainstream adoption. Having an open dialogue with law enforcement and policymakers will help reduce anxiety about this transformative technology.”