Cracking down on crime in the digital world

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Digital currencies are gaining traction for those looking to exchange money online without a middle-man. But some lawmakers and advocates want to ensure the cash-less currency does not become a cover for crime. Washington Correspondent Alana Austin digs into the new steps to get ahead of the bad actors.

“Human trafficking was my life for 18 months…” said Shamere McKenzie, CEO of the Sun Gate Foundation.

Shamere McKenzie is a survivor of sex trafficking. Now an advocate for victims, she wants to make sure things like digital currency do not give traffickers another path to exploitation.

“If traffickers are using the dark web to carry out their activity, we ought to investigate that,” said McKenzie.

She wants to see legislation that would prevent predators from manipulating new tools. Virginia Congressman Denver Riggleman (R-VA) is doing just that.

“I’d like to cut the head off the snake…” said Riggleman.

Riggleman wants to make sure criminals organizations and even terrorists aren’t using digital currency for illegal activity – like drugs, sex trafficking, or human trafficking. So, he’s backing bills that would set up a task force to investigate the best ways to go after such crimes, and approve a study to look into the extent of such behavior.

“We don’t want to use yesterday’s technology to fix tomorrow’s problems today,” said Riggleman.

Blockchain Association spokeswoman Kristin Smith says the digital currency industry supports these bills, which builds on existing efforts to protect the public.

“We’re very careful to say: we don’t want the technology itself regulated, but it’s the application of the technology that may – in certain circumstances – need to be regulated,” said Smith.

The two bills have passed in the House and are currently being considered in the Senate.

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