After being exposed as a front for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Crypto International, an apparent successor to Swiss firm Crypto AG, is now laying off staff. The company confirmed to local news source SwissInfo that it had dismissed 70 workers this week, explaining that it had been hurt significantly over the past few months.
CIA Links Doom Crypto International
Crypto International’s troubles began with an expose in the Wall Street Journal back in February. Per the report, the company’s parent organization, BND, was a secret service company run by the CIA and German intelligence organizations. Crypto AG had been operating as a manufacturer of encrypted communications solutions for countries since the Second World War. The intelligence organizations continued their front well after World War II, according to the Journal. BDN sold its stake in Crypto AG to the CIA in the 1990s, and the latter continued running the company till 2018.
As soon as the report dropped, Crypto AG’s business was destroyed. Speaking with SwissInfo, Andreas Linde, Crypto International’s chief executive, explained that the government had refused it an export license. Thus, with operations hampered as much as they’ve been, the dismissals were inevitable.
Crypto, Blockchain, and Privacy
Crypto AG’s case brought back the issue of privacy and anonymity on the internet. The prevalence of the internet has made it easy for people to spy on others, whether it’s as mundane as checking someone’s text messages or advanced as breaking into their social media accounts and monitoring what they say.
Many have argued about the potential for surveillance from the government to cause an intrusion of privacy. In the financial space, cryptocurrencies provide a means of side-stepping oversight from regulators by allowing anonymous, peer-to-peer transactions.
Over the past year, however, governments have also stepped up their ability to track cryptocurrency transactions. Whether on the Dark Web or via simple transactions between parties, law enforcement agencies are getting better at tracking crypto-asset transactions.
The result of this increased surveillance has been the move from assets like Bitcoin and Ether to privacy-focused coins. Monero, ZCash, DASH, and more have seen increased adoption from people looking to achieve privacy, but the flip side has been the increased use of these assets by criminals.
To remedy this, the government is now turning this focus to privacy coins and technologies too. Last month, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published a request for information seeking an “interactive prototype” with a graphic user interface for analyzing distributed ledger-based transactions with privacy coins and other privacy-enhancing blockchain concepts.
In the document, the IRS noted Monero, ZCash, DASH, Komodo, and GRIN, amongst others. It also highlighted layer-two solutions like the Lightning, Celer, and Raiden Networks. The agency requests prototypes for systems that cluster transactions from a single user with obfuscation technologies and privacy coins. The required tool will also have a library of wallet addresses suspected of involvement in nefarious activities