Bitcoin is a digital, decentralized currency that has been criticized for its lack of anonymity. Due to its pseudonymous nature, Bitcoin transactions are not as anonymous as many people believe. However, Bitcoin users can opt for a more anonymous transaction by utilizing online Bitcoin mixing services.
Note: I'm not a financial advisor or lawyer.
Bitcoin mixing is the process of using a third party to break the link between a sending address and a receiving address. This is done through single or multiple rounds of mixing, which involves sending the coins to one mixer, waiting for them to return with different coins, then sending them to another mixer, and so on.
This process allows two endpoints of a transaction that might otherwise be connected by examining the blockchain ledger to be obfuscated from each other. In this way, bitcoin mixers enable users to have greater privacy in their transactions.
However, it hasn't escaped federal law enforcement's eyes that Bitcoin mixing has the properties of money laundering.
On paper, no.
Bitcoin mixing is not illegal in the United States. However, there is a good chance that it will be considered an aspect of money laundering or another form of illegal activity if they can tie it to other evidence in an investigation.
There are two reasons why Bitcoin mixing is not illegal in the U.S.: Firstly, bitcoin mixing does not involve any criminal intent, and secondly, bitcoin mixing services cannot link transactions with specific individuals because they mix different people's transactions, which makes it nearly impossible for authorities to identify those who are using these services.
However, there are a few cases where bitcoin mixing was probably tied to a crime. For example, in 2013, the founder of Silk Road was arrested and accused of running an underground drug marketplace.
Still, Bitcoin mixing isn't intrinsically evil. It's the user that makes it so. Crypto enthusiasts would argue Bitcoin mixing is a force for good because it increases user privacy.
So, what is the best-case scenario for mixing?
Bitcoin was designed to be a digital currency that does not depend on any government or organization. As a result, bitcoins can be sent from any point in the world to another without going through a central authority.
Bitcoin mixing, also known as "Bitcoin tumbling," is a concept that allows you to do the following: Obtain bitcoins from one person and send them to another person without linking either transaction back to you.
The mildest case for Bitcoin mixing is that it helps you maintain your anonymity and privacy when using Bitcoin as a means of payment for goods and services.
Your finances should be your business. The government has already made us submit our personal information to banks. And the banks have failed us time and again.
Yet, there are cases for bad actors to make Bitcoin mixing look like implicit illegal activity.
Bitcoin mixing is an essential tool for people who want to conceal their bitcoin transactions. However, there are some cases where bitcoin mixing is used in the wrong way. Let's take a look at some of the worst use cases for bitcoin mixing.
One typical case of misusing bitcoin mixing is when someone tries to launder money or conceal criminal activity. This happens because bitcoins are not automatically traceable like dollars or euros, which makes it easier for criminals to hide the source of their wealth.
Another common misuse of bitcoin mixing is when someone wants to buy drugs or other illegal substances without being caught. They might think that it will be easier if they mix their coins with other coins first before sending them through a chain of transactions until they eventually reach the seller's wallet.
So, let's clarify the U.S. government's view of Bitcoin mixing.
The U.S. government's stance on Bitcoin mixing is unclear, but it has taken steps to recommend the regulation of the currency and other similar ones. These steps include:
The IRS has clarified that Bitcoin is a property for tax purposes and will be taxed accordingly. That means that if you buy something with Bitcoin, you may have to pay capital gains tax on any appreciation in the currency's value. The CFTC has granted Bitcoin derivatives the status of a commodity, which means that futures contracts based on Bitcoin can trade on an exchange such as CME or CBOE without running afoul of regulatory restrictions against unregistered securities trading. Congress held hearings to learn more about cryptocurrencies and whether they could be regulated to protect investors and prevent illicit financial transactions.
So, the government is keenly focused on cryptocurrency activity. But is it out of concern or control?
The best-case scenario that the U.S. government wants to crack down on bitcoin mixing is to stop being a viable way to launder money.
That's because, with bitcoin mixing, people can clean their money by laundering it through a digital currency platform or service without detection by regulators or law enforcement organizations.
If the government wants something done about cryptocurrencies and wants it done fast, then cracking down on cryptocurrency mixing is probably not the right way to go about that.
But, it is no surprise that the U.S. government and their agencies are relentlessly pursuing Bitcoin mixing and the blockchain technology that enables them to exist in this day and age. Therefore, it is vital to consider all possible use cases for Bitcoin mixing, including its use in cybercrime, illicit activities, money laundering, terrorism financing, etc.
The U.S. government can be seen as a champion for preserving the financial system's integrity by ensuring that such an essential part of our economy does not become a haven for criminal activity or terrorist financing.
But criminal activity in cryptocurrency is small compared to fiat. So, what's another reason for the government's focus?
The U.S. government is cracking down on Bitcoin mixing because it is afraid of losing control of the people. They have been trying to regulate Bitcoin for a long time now, and they have so far been unsuccessful, so this may be another tactic to try and control the population through fear.
The U.S. government is cracking down on Bitcoin mixing because they want to keep a tight grip on the populace adopting this new technology at a rapid pace. However, with the fall of centralized banking institutions around the world, more and more people are turning to cryptocurrencies as an alternative way of storing their money and transferring it from one place to another without dealing with any middlemen or fees that come with that process.
After hearing all of this, if Bitcoin mixing for privacy seems too risky, what are your options?
Many people are looking for alternatives to bitcoin mixing due to the high volume of people caught by law enforcement agencies. For example, Monero is an alternative cryptocurrency with all of its transactions anonymous and untraceable by law enforcement agencies.
Another alternative is Zcash which provides transactional privacy, anonymity, and fungibility through zero-knowledge cryptography.
Of course, there are other choices available when looking for an alternative cryptocurrency that users can use for bitcoin mixing purposes. These include Dash, Litecoin, and PIVX - all of these cryptocurrencies provide anonymity to various degrees while also having faster transaction times than Bitcoin's.
But, stay vigilant. The U.S. government has its eye on privacy coins too.
The U.S. government is interested in privacy coins and is using its authority to regulate and monitor them.
The U.S. government has been very interested in cryptocurrency for a few years now, but they have yet to take any real action with it until recently. Finally, the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has taken notice of privacy coins and released recommended regulations.
The FinCEN regulations would require all exchanges that deal with privacy coins to register as a Money Services Business (MSB). And maintain customer records just like other financial institutions do with fiat currency exchanges, which would make it easier for the U.S. government to track the transactions of people using these currencies on the dark web or abroad without any regulation by local authorities.
Also, other NGO forces are aiding in the investigation of "illicit" activity such as Chainalysis.
Chainalysis is a company that provides information on cryptocurrency wallets, transactions, and the people behind them. People have different opinions about this company. Some people think that Chainalysis is doing great work to help the government enforce AML and KYC policies in the cryptocurrency space. The other side of the argument claims that Chainalysis could undermine financial privacy by providing personal identity information to governments.
The good thing about Chainalysis is that it has developed a tool for users to determine if someone has been using their wallets without their permission, which can help with fraud prevention. The bad thing about Chainalysis is that it does not have to provide anonymity for customers under investigation because governments can compel them, violating customers' rights and infringing on personal privacy.
Bitcoin pseudonymity is highly desirable for many reasons, but Bitcoin mixing remains in a legal gray area, making it difficult to use. Legal regulations are still catching up to the rapid changes in the world of cryptocurrency.
However, the government is not asleep at the wheel. They want to get Bitcoin and other cryptos under control. The more control individuals have, the less they need their government. And the U.S. government's goals are maintenance of power, not social well-being.
If it were me, I would steer clear of Bitcoin mixing for now and use privacy coins if it's important to you.