Cryptocurrency exchanges Coinbase, Paxful, Gemini and BitFinex have joined the Anti-Human Trafficking Cryptocurrency Consortium (ATCC). The Federation was launched in April 2020 by the Initiative to Combat Human Trafficking, a non-profit organization dedicated to sharing intelligence and best practices and developing tools to combat human trafficking. ATCC brings together crypto exchanges, blockchain intelligence and law enforcement companies to combat human trafficking and child sexual abuse, also known as CSAM.
Aaron Kahler, President and Founder of the Anti-Human Trafficking Initiative, told Cointelegraph that thought management and information sharing in the cryptocurrency space are important for raising awareness of social responsibility in combating human trafficking:
“We are positioning organizations to play an active role in preventing, detecting and reporting human trafficking and child exploitation. The Human Trafficking Initiative and the Center for Combating Human Trafficking are developing comprehensive programs, training, data and tools to combat this problem. ”
Cryptocurrency exchanges track transactions
In particular, the four ATCC member exchanges will monitor crypto transactions to determine trade-related characteristics. This information will then be shared with all ATCC members, as well as intelligence agencies, advisory members and police authorities, to combat illegal activities.
Lana Schwartzman, chief compliance officer at Paxful, a peer-to-peer exchange, told Cointelegraph that she’s personally working on a Paxful search initiative that includes specific terms related to human trafficking and child exploitation:
I think this with the participation of the consortium will influence the situation more. Narrative keywords are used everywhere – it doesn’t matter whether they come from a peer-to-peer crypto exchange or a regular crypto exchange. Keywords are industry-specific and should be tracked across all systems. ”
The Quiet Keyword Initiative reflects best practices from traditional financial institutions participating in anti-trafficking programs. Schwartzman noted that Paxful and other exchanges have a unique advantage when it comes to monitoring transactions, thanks to the transparency associated with the cryptocurrency:
“There is no such thing in traditional requests. I hope every potential attacker will understand that you cannot use the cryptocurrency for human trafficking and other illegal activities. We know who you are, see your transactions, and inform the authorities about you.”
John Kotanick, senior director of global intelligence at Coinbase – a cryptocurrency exchange headquartered in San Francisco – repeatedly told Cointelegraph that no matter how tech-savvy bad actors are, the people with motivation and determination in the police and the private sector are at end of the day. Kotanek stated that Coinbase supports consortia like ATCC, and indicated that the initiative’s efforts are in line with Coinbase’s spirit of removing attackers from the crypto economy:
“Coinbase is involved with other groups aiming to uncover illegal flows of criminal income, not only from human trafficking, but also from ransomware, the sale of fentanyl and money laundering.”
The basement is clean but could be more clean
Kotanek also mentioned that, contrary to common misconceptions, cryptocurrency is generally pure business. However, he is well aware of bad sides. To put this in perspective, Chainalysis, a member of ATCC, a blockchain exploration company, published a blog post in April of this year showing the impact of cryptocurrencies on human trafficking.
According to Chainalyse’s results, about $ 930,000 in Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) transactions were sent to addresses linked to CSAM providers in 2019. This shows a 32% increase compared to 2018. Interestingly, between January and March of the year , BTC and ETH payments just under $ 250,000 were returned to the CSAM providers.
Information sharing is the key
While these numbers may seem high, it is important to note that human trafficking is a business that generates more than $ 150 billion annually. This demonstrates that the percentage of transactions that involve cryptocurrency transactions is still relatively low compared to traditional payments.
However, the Economic Crime Enforcement Network released a statement on human trafficking on October 15 this year, stating that a “virtual convertible currency” is used by traffickers to hide illegal income.