Bitcoin.de, renowned as Germany’s biggest digital currency exchange, has been handing out its clients’ private account information voluntarily to German Police. There has been a big push from law officials to take down darknet markets, and as such, they have been using exchange information to track cryptocurrency users.
User privacy and information has been a thorny issue as Coinbase, one of the most popular exchanges in the US has been fighting the IRS who have been hunting for information on the exchange’s clients.
Legal reporting obligations
There have been some big dark net take downs recently, with AlphaBay and Hansa both falling. Hansa was taken down by Dutch authorities, and it seems that there is a big push in Europe to stop these illegal marketplaces.
The information that German police have been seeking from the exchange has been Bitcoin addresses, names, associated emails, locations, account summaries, IP addresses and login history.
The exchange has defended itself by saying this reporting is justified and that it has a trustworthy cooperation with the German authorities.
However, a professor and data protection officer from Hamburg, Johannes Caspar, says Germany’s Money Laundering Act (AMLA) says there is no legal obligation to give data to police.
This goes hand in hand with what has been happening in the US and the IRS as their call for hundreds of thousands of customers’ information has been unprecedented and blocked by many different players.
The draw of digital currency like Bitcoin is its anonymity, and a lot of that has to do with the protection that exchanges have in not needing to divulge information on transactions.
One customer from South Germany says he is outraged at how this major exchange has compromised his privacy.
“I am speechless,” explains Jansen. “I thought this is a serious company and that my data is safe there.”