How The Blockchain Alliance Helps Law Enforcement With Bitcoin Crime And Developments Like The DAO

Forbes | Laura Shin | Aug 9, 2016

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While many people hear the word “Bitcoin” and still think of crime, compared to previous types of digital currencies used by criminals such as e-gold and Liberty Reserve dollars, Bitcoin is quite different.

At least according to Jason Weinstein, partner at international law firm Steptoe & Johnson, who previously spent 15 years at the Department of Justice as a federal prosecutor, with the final third of that time devoted to supervising computer and organized crimes.

Whereas the previous digital currencies were created and maintained by and for criminals, “Bitcoin was a digital currency designed for legitimate purposes that was being misappropriated by criminals,” he says in the latest episode of my podcast, Unchained, which explores blockchain and fintech (Google Play, iTunes, StitcherTuneIn Radio). (Links to this particular episode: Google Play, iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn Radio.)

During the session, he and Alan Cohn, of counsel at Steptoe, who had served as assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security for nine years helping to coordinate cyber-crime policy, discuss their work with the Blockchain Alliance, a ten-month-old coalition of more than 25 companies from the blockchain industry and more than 25 law enforcement agencies both domestically and abroad.


Tune in to find out how Richard Branson’s Necker Island played into the formation of the Blockchain Alliance, how regulators’ perceptions toward cryptocurrencies have evolved over time, and what legal and regulatory challenges a situation like the DAO and the DAO hack present. (The DAO, which stands for decentralized autonomous organization, was essentially a leaderless venture fund governed by software code that, in May, raised the equivalent of $150 million in a cryptocurrency called ether in the largest crowdfunding in history. Contributors received DAO tokens that gave them voting rights over which ventures the DAO would support. However, in June, someone exploited a loophole in the code to steal the equivalent of $50 million from the fund, which might have, and may still, trigger the concern of regulators since investors were hurt — except that the community then attempted to restore funds by, again, using technology. But then that plan went awry, so the final fallout remains to be seen.)

Weinstein and Cohn also talk about their work with blockchain at Steptoe. In fact, the firm announces, through this podcast and this accompanying article, that the firm is launching a multidisciplinary practice that will serve not only blockchain companies but other companies affected by blockchain in industries ranging from energy, transportation and international trade to financial services, intellectual property and government affairs and public policy.

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