As privacy coins, the three fit into a category that is increasingly under threat from government regulators worldwide.
A not-so-Happy New Year for privacy enthusiasts?
On Jan. 1, the Bittrex cryptocurrency exchange posted a notice on their website that effective Jan. 15, Monero, Dash, and ZCash would be removed from their trading platform. These three are privacy tokens, which anonymize transactions.
The notice states:
You must perform any trades with these tokens no later than Friday, January 15, 2021, 23:00 UTC.
After the markets are removed, Bittrex generally seeks to provide users up to 30 days to withdraw any delisted tokens, but in certain instances the withdrawal period may be shortened. Users should withdraw any tokens before the posted withdrawal deadline.
Privacy tokens, as the name suggests, are relatively difficult for investigators to track. Their use is rising, and some tokens have been in regulators’ sights for a while.
Back in November, Bittrex announced the delisting of 23 tokens for a variety of performance or regulatory issues. The exchange also singled out Grin at that time as a possible target for future delisting. Readers should note that Bittrex also pointed to MEME and VRC for possible delisting.
In Sep. 2020, the Internal Revenue Service of the US government offered up to $625,000 to the team(s) that could crack Monero’s or the Lightning Network’s encryption. The announcement carried a sense of urgency, considering that tight time frames were included in the rules. In particular, Monero seems to be a thorn in the regulators’ side. The request for proposals specified that a Lightning Network on Bitcoin monitoring tool already existed. However, tools for Lightning on Litecoin and on Ethereum were needed.
Europe is seriously determined to thwart privacy.
In October, EUROPOL, the EU’s united policing body, released the Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment (IOCTA) for 2020. Privacy coins ranked among the top threats. Mixing services and anonymization are evolving, the report noted. Moreover, crypto-enabled crime adapts quickly to the changing landscape.
Governments focused their attention on more than privacy coins in 2020. They turned to encrypted communication as well, and saw a threat. The European Union emphasized this in early November. The EU Council of Ministers issued a proposal regarding a resolution forbidding end-to-end encryption of communications. This proposal affected What’s App and Signal in particular.
While the proposal was non-binding, it shows where the EU is heading in terms of privacy. The rest of the world is following close behind.