A group of prominent Bitcoin companies and individuals under leadership of the Chamber of Digital Commerce and Coin Center have formed the Blockchain Alliance, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit that will serve as a resource for law enforcement to help combat criminal activity involving bitcoin and the blockchain.
The Blockchain Alliance is so far engaged with the Department of Justice (including the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service), the U.S. Secret Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
The Blockchain Alliance will serve as a single point of contact for law enforcement to have any questions regarding Bitcoin and blockchain technology answered. As such, the organization will essentially function as a closed forum, where all participants can share information. While its exact form will continue to develop in consultation with these participants, this could take place through mailing lists, conference calls, meetings and more.
Speaking to Bitcoin Magazine, Coin Center Executive Director Jerry Brito explained why he believes the Blockchain Alliance is needed:
Bitcoin is often associated with illicit activity. And that's a shame, because Bitcoin is ultimately a neutral, open technology, a lot like email. Email is something that criminals use every day, and that absolutely regular people use every day. But we don't associate email with criminal activity, even though criminals use it every day. We need to get to that same place with Bitcoin. And part of the way to do that is to be completely open with law enforcement, be available to answer questions, and explain to them how the technology works.
Similarly, Perianne Boring, founder and president of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, sees Bitcoin's reputation in Washington as major hurdle to pro-growth regulation.
“It’s no secret that Bitcoin has perception issues, which is a roadblock to mainstream adoption,” Boring said in a statement. “Having an open dialogue with law enforcement and policymakers will help reduce anxiety about this transformative technology. This initiative goes hand-in-hand with the Chamber’s mission of promoting a regulatory approach that supports innovation, jobs and investment. Getting criminals off the blockchain is not only good for public safety -- it’s good for business.”
So far, an extensive list of Bitcoin companies, individuals and institutions have joined the Blockchain Alliance. Apart from the Chamber of Digital Commerce and Coin Center, this includes Bitcoin XT and former Bitcoin Core lead developer Gavin Andresen; Bitcoin Core developer Jeff Garzik; MIT Media Lab’s Digital Currency Initiative head Brian Forde; bitcoin exchanges BitFinex, Bitstamp, Coinbase, itBit, Kraken and CoinX; payment processors BitPay and Bitnet; wallet services Blockchain(.info), Circle and Xapo; API-provider BitGo; mining specialist BitFury and liquidity provider Noble Markets.
Jason Weinstein will serve as director of the Blockchain Alliance. Weinstein has a track record in the regulatory and digital payments space, as a former deputy assistant attorney general in charge of cybercrime investigations at the Department of Justice. Weinstein is also partner at Steptoe & Johnson LLP. In addition to that, Weinstein is a member of the strategic advisory boards of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, Coin Center and BitFury.
“The companies participating in this initiative are not only good companies, but they are also good corporate citizens,” Weinstein said. “For the blockchain to thrive, the industry must work together to correct the misperception of bitcoin as the 'currency of criminals.' By helping law enforcement agencies address public safety concerns about bitcoin and other digital currencies, we can foster an environment in which the full potential of the blockchain can be realized.”