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Amazon Was Just Granted a Patent for Tracking Bitcoin Transactions and Selling the Data to the Government


William Gayde:

Back in 2014, Amazon filed a patent for a Streaming Data Marketplace which would allow them to gather online data streams, analyze and combine them with other data sources, and sell the results as a finished product. Although this is a very generic sounding idea, one of the clauses in the patent filing has many in the security and cryptocurrency community worried.


The patent, which was granted this week, outlines a method for analyzing the Bitcoin blockchain, correlating transactions and Bitcoin addresses with the people that made them, and then selling the result to telecom providers or government agencies.

That sounds pretty nefarious. To what end would the government be using these transaction details? Let’s ask the patent itself:

Government agencies may be able to subscribe downstream and correlate tax transaction data to help identify transaction participants.

So essentially, Amazon has a patent on helping the government make it harder for people to use bitcoin in order to tax dodge. Honestly, I think that’s pretty reasonable. It seems the government of Finland is doing this already. Two things to remember:

  • Bitcoin is not anonymous. It’s pseudomonas, which is not the same thing at all;
  • If you buy something and that thing gains value, you probably have a tax burden related to that gain. This applies to stocks and shares, it applies to paintings, and it applies to digital goods1.
  1. For fascinating look inside that particular rabbit hole, read the last few chapters of Julian Dibbell’s Play Money.