by Avv. Giorgio Maria Mazzoli
The real threat behind the extension of AML provisions to Virtual Currencies (VCs) operators.
The legislator should be aware that any VC transaction is registered eternally on the blockchain and that the blockchain is public by default (i.e. it may be easily read and inspected by anyone at any time without any restriction whatsoever).
This implies that anyone may easily ascertain whether a transaction was or will be made, its amount and the Public Keys of the parties of such transaction.
Anyone who would be able to get access to the data concerning the identity of a person controlling a specific Public Key (hereinafter a “VC Holder”), regardless of whether such access is gained in accordance with any applicable law, would also be able:
(i) to ascertain:
– the VC amount which has ever been or will ever be held by such VC Holder on such Public Key;
– the VC amount which has ever been or will ever be spent or received by such VC Holder on such Public Key;
(ii) to subsequently establish an effective and incisive surveillance system over such VC Holder.
The collection of data regarding the identity of any and all VC Holders in accordance with AML provisions, would necessarily result in allowing any person who would be able to get access to such data, even if such collection is made by a Public Authority, to establish the most powerful mass surveillance system history has ever seen.
This would dangerously put at stake the foundations laid for any democratic society.
It must be also stressed that while criminals may adopt robust cryptographic instruments to inhibit transparency of their VC transactions, law-abiding citizens would remain exposed to such surveillance system.
The extension of AML provisions to VC market operators would then turn to be ineffective.