Police and government agencies around the world are filing more information requests with crypto exchanges, if Coinbase’s latest transparency report is any indication.
Coinbase received 66% more requests from law enforcement agencies worldwide this year compared to 2021, according to the report, which spanned October 1, 2021 through September 30, 2022.
Coinbase said it continued to pursue “bad actors who engage in prohibited activity” or otherwise abuse its products this year. The crypto exchange received 12,320 total requests from law enforcement or government agencies, with 5,304 of those requests coming from within the U.S.
The United Kingdom issued the second-highest number of requests at 1,740, and Germany ranked the third-highest with 1,668 requests. Spain saw a massive 940% uptick in requests year-over-year, and Belgium filed 400% more requests compared to 2021.
As for how liberally it reveals customer information to such agencies, Coinbase said it reviews all requests “carefully” before sharing data.
“We carefully review law enforcement and agency requests before providing data to ensure we are honoring our customers’ rights over their personal information,” the exchange said.
Roughly 95% of all law enforcement requests were filed for criminal investigations, according to the report, while the remaining requests were for “civil or administrative” purposes. In the U.S., 55.6% of all requests filed this year were for federal criminal cases, while 33.7% pertained to state or local criminal cases.
While many in the cryptocurrency space see privacy as a core value of the industry, Coinbase does not uphold user privacy at all costs. When deemed appropriate, Coinbase said it will provide police or government agencies with user information like the user’s “name, recent login/logout IP address, and payment information.”
In its report, Coinbase asserted that while it does provide user data to agencies in certain circumstances, it does not give said agencies any “direct access” to said user data—suggesting that the information it does supply is repackaged in some manner.
Although it honors many requests, the exchange said it might sometimes resist or “challenge” agency requests “depending on the particular circumstances” and said it occasionally asks agencies to “narrow” their requests for user data.
It is unclear how many requests Coinbase sought to adjust prior to complying. Coinbase has not yet responded to Decrypt’s request for comment.
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