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Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Needs for Law Enforcement

NCJ Number
Date Published
28 pages

This report presents details on a workshop with law enforcement practitioners, academics, and other experts, where they identified and discussed the highest-priority research and development needs, to support law enforcement’s ability to adapt to societal changes.


The authors of this workshop report answer two questions: what the highest-priority law enforcement needs are related to blockchain and cryptocurrency; and what the opportunities are for additional research investment. This report describes the proceedings of a workshop between law enforcement practitioners, academics, and other experts, to discuss the 10 highest-priority needs identified by the participants; and provides additional context based on the participants’ discussions. The authors lay out eight key findings from the workshop: there are not enough law enforcement-specific blockchain and cryptocurrency training and experts to meet the demand for educating justice practitioners; cryptocurrency can be transferred by anyone in possession of an easy-to-copy digital key, which can be used to move assets before an agency takes possession; the digital key is merely a unique set of letters and/or numbers, which allows the bearer to control digital assets and should be treated like any other text-based information within a case file; seized cryptocurrency assets can be transferred by anyone in possession of a digital key to a digital wallet of unknown ownership, which presents opportunities for officer misconduct; justice practitioners have difficulty keeping up with the rapid pace of changes in blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies; there is an overall lack of experience regarding those technologies across the justice system; commercial cryptocurrency-tracking tools can be prohibitively expensive and open-source tools may require significant computing power; and once a problematic cryptocurrency wallet is identified by law enforcement, there is no good way to notify other interested investigators in other jurisdictions. To address those key findings, the authors present 10 recommendations for best-practice policies, interagency communications, and other collaborative efforts.

Date Published: January 1, 2023