Coinbase providing customer geolocation data to ICE: Report
Historical geo-tracking data and transactions of customers have reportedly been shared through Coinbase Tracer
By Shashank Bhardwaj
According to a new allegation, crypto exchange Coinbase has offered U.S ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) officials with a "suite of features" for tracking the company's customers. The ICE has reportedly been granted access to Coinbase Tracer, an intelligence-gathering technology that includes several forensic data monitoring features.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement works to safeguard the nation from illegal immigration and cross-border crime. ICE reportedly has access to Coinbase Tracer thanks to a $1.36 million deal that it signed with Coinbase in September 2021.
Coinbase Tracer's goal is to help ICE track out malicious and fraudulent blockchain transactions. The gadget, according to The Intercept, will enable ICE agents to ”connect addresses to real-world entities.”
When approached in regards to the allegations, Coinbase refused to make any official statement. Instead, Natasha LaBranche, a company representative, just provided a link to the company's website with a brief description of the issue. It said, “All Coinbase Tracer features use data that is fully sourced from online, publicly available data, and do not include any personally identifiable information for anyone, or any proprietary Coinbase user data.”
According to an additional email obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, ICE was not needed to sign an End User License Agreement with Coinbase. An End User License Agreement typically specifies what users can and cannot do with a company's software. This presumably means that ICE has broad discretion over how they use the data tracking technology.
This is not the first time that Coinbase has suffered from allegations of such nature. Coinbase Tracer acquired blockchain intelligence firm Neutrino in 2019, and its leadership team previously worked with a startup that supplied malware to many governments, including Saudi Arabia, which is infamous for human rights violations.
Shashank is the founder of yMedia. He ventured into crypto in 2013 and is an ETH maximalist. Twitter: @bhardwajshash