Amazon May Soon Accept Bitcoin (And Sell the Data to Law Enforcement)
Amazon Technologies, Inc. – a subsidiary of American electronic commerce and cloud computing giant Amazon.com, Inc. – has won a patent for a marketplace that offers data feeds. More important, the patented marketplace includes bitcoin transactions.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has approved Amazon Technologies’ filing for a patent on a streaming data marketplace. The patent in question was originally filed in September 2014 and makes reference to bitcoin transactions twice.
As noted by CNBC, the first bitcoin-related instance described “a data stream that publishes or includes global bitcoin transactions (or any cryptocurrency transaction).” The patent provides an example:
For example, a group of electronic or internet retailers who accept bitcoin transactions may have a shipping address that may correlate with the bitcoin address. The electronic retailers may combine the shipping address with the bitcoin transaction data to create correlated data and republish the combined data as a combined data stream. A group of telecommunications providers may subscribe downstream to the combined data stream and be able to correlate the IP (Internet Protocol) addresses of the transactions to countries of origin. Government agencies may be able to subscribe downstream and correlate tax transaction data to help identify transaction participants.
CNBC also notes that the patents second bitcoin-related example describes how a law enforcement agency may be interested in global bitcoin transaction data in order to correlate bitcoin wallet addresses to IP or physical addresses. Reads the patent:
For example, a law enforcement agency may be a customer and may desire to receive global bitcoin transactions, correlated by country, with ISP data to determine source IP addresses and shipping addresses that correlate to bitcoin addresses. The agency may not want additional available enhancements such as local bank data records. The streaming data marketplace may price this desired data out per GB (gigabyte), for example, and the agency can start running analytics on the desired data using the analysis module.
The Good and the Bad
Whether or not Amazon’s plans are a good thing or not remains to be seen.
One one hand, providing law enforcement agencies and regulators with a wealth of bitcoin-related (or other cryptocurrency-related) information obviously detracts from cryptocurrency’s promise of relative anonymity – though the public ledger is, as the name describes, public.
On the other hand, providing Amazon and it’s stable of vendors with an effective mechanism to accept bitcoin payments is a massive boost to the dominant cryptocurrency’s quest for mass acceptance. With Amazon leading the charge, it’s safe to assume that every other online marketplace would have to follow suit, lest they risk falling further behind the online behemoth.
What do you think about Amazon Technologies’ patent? Do you think the potential pros outweigh the potential cons? Let us know in the comments below!
Images courtesy of Bitcoinist archives.