Report Claims Coinbase Selling User Geolocation Data to ICE

Report Claims Coinbase Selling User Geolocation Data to ICE

Tech Inquiry’s Jack Paulson has shared startling details about a 3-year contract between the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and crypto exchange Coinbase in its report.

According to the contract details accessed by Tech Inquiry’s researcher, under this $1.36 million contract, Coinbase’s Coinbase Tracer (previously Coinbase Analytics) will provide crypto users’ data to the US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), DHS’s law enforcement wing.

Coinbase Tracer is an intelligence collecting tool with numerous forensic data monitoring features.

Details of Contract between ICE and Coinbase

As per the report of watchdog group Tech Inquiry, Coinbase Tracer shares sensitive data of crypto users with the ICE, including transaction history and geolocation. This contract was previously known as a three-year deal between Coinbase and ICE.

Tech Inquiry managed to access this contract and identified that the crypto exchange offers the ICE a “suite of features” that allow the department to track its customers. For your information, this deal was signed in September 2021.

ICE needs Coinbase Tracer to track fraudulent and malicious blockchain transactions. This tool allows the agency to “connect addresses to real-world entities,” The Intercept explained. Now, ICE can track transactions made via over a dozen different cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Tether, and Ether.

It is worth noting that under the Freedom of Information Act, the ICE doesn’t need to enter an End User License Agreement with Coinbase, which means that the agency has broad discretion over how they utilize the data tracking tool.

Coinbase Response

In an email, was presented with the following statement from CoinBase:

As explained on our website, Coinbase Analytics, now Coinbase Tracer, is a compliance solution that Coinbase offers to governments, financial institutions, and crypto businesses. It enables them to investigate financial crimes including money laundering and terrorist financing. All Coinbase Tracer features use data that is fully sourced from online, publicly available data, and does not make use of Coinbase user data.”

Furthermore, on Twitter, the crypto exchange denied selling “proprietary customer data” and stated that its Coinbase Tracer tool helps authorities investigate financial crimes including terror financing and money laundering with the help of publically available sources rather than using its customers’ data.

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