Amazon Wins Patent for Data Stream to ‘Identify’ Bitcoin Users for Law Enforcement

Amazon’s latest patent aims to combine data from various sources to identify cryptocurrency users for subscribers including the taxman and cops.

Amazon, the online retail and technology giant owned by billionaire Jeff Bezos, won a patent in the US for a subscription feed that the company claims could “identify [Bitcoin] transaction participants” for governments and law enforcement.

The patent, which was filed in 2014 but approved on Tuesday, comes at a time when regulators’ desire to track and police cryptocurrency is running up against the technology’s core promises of pseudonymity for users. Bitcoin users, for example, are represented in the virtual currencies ledger by strings of text and numbers generated by a cryptographic algorithm. Taxation for Bitcoin thus relies on self-reporting. Amazon’s system, if it comes into being, could allow government subscribers to “correlate tax transaction data” with Bitcoin data in order to identify people, the patent filing says.

The patented system is described as a 
“streaming data marketplace” where various entities provide information into the stream to increase its identifying power, and customers subscribe to the feed for insights.