Brazil's Ministry of Justice Reveals It's 'Studying' Bitcoin Over Potential Use in Crime

Brazils Ministry of Justice and Public Security, led by Sérgio Moro, has recently revealed through an interview that it’s ‘investigating« (studying) bitcoin, the flagship cryptocurrency, to better understand how it can be used in crimes.

The Ministry’s goal is to reportedly be able to understand the nascent technology it’s based on, and to potentially launch investigation norms authorities can use. Within the Ministry the National Strategy to Combat Corruption and Money Laundering (ENCCLA) is responsible for overseeing cryptocurrencies, and has been having regular meetings on the issue.

According to local news outlet Criptomoedas Fácil, the ENCCLA has over 70 agencies in it, and has revealed cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology have been debated with the goal of “deepening the study on the circulation of these assets to individuals and companies in Brazil.”

Speaking to the news outlet, the Ministry revealed:

Despite the good use that can be made of the new technologies regarding virtual assets, they unfortunately have also been used to commit crimes. The theme still poses challenges not only for our country but for the international community.

Camila Colares, director of the Asset Recovery and International Legal Cooperation Department (DRC) noted that there’s still a lot to discover when it comes to the topic, and as such the ENCCLA is set to continue looking into it with a criminal approach in mind.

Colares was quoted as saying:

The regulatory difficulty we have today is because we still do not know the potentialities - negative and positive - of these virtual assets.

Some of the so-called actions the ENCCLA has already taken to debate the topic has seen it create a glossary of cryptocurrency-related terms, create a survey on the typologies of money laundering and corruption through the use of cryptocurrencies, and hold a workshop on the use of cryptos with “national and foreign participants from the public and private sectors.”

The organization has also studied cryptocurrencies to understand how these can be used to launder money, and determined there’s a need for regulations that can prevent it to be used by criminals, although an exact approach hasn’t been determined.

It’s worth pointing out the cryptocurrency scene has been growing in Brazil. Last year the country launched a national blockchain association, and soon after a university within launched the world’s first master’s degree in cryptofinance. Earlier this year, the country’s new president Jair Bolsonaro shut down an indigenous cryptocurrency project.

Error in Time-Locked Bitcoin Contracts Allows for Miner 'Fee-Sniping'

Michael LaVere
  • Crypto researcher 0xb10c discovered an error in bitcoin "time-locked" transactions that could be used as an attack vector.
  • Miners can take advantage of the program to carry out "fee-sniping" and steal funds from one another. 

Users have discovered an error in bitcoin “timelocked” contracts that could potentially allow miners to steal BTC from one another. 

Anonymous crypto engineer 0xb10c reported discovering more than one million “time-locked” transactions made between September 2019 and March 2020. In a post, 0xb10c detailed how these special bitcoin transactions were not being accurately enforced by the network. 

As opposed to normal transactions, time-locked transactions prevent recipient bitcoin from being accessed after sending. Users must wait for a specific number of blocks to be added to the network in ten-minute intervals before gaining control of their bitcoin. 

0xb10c claimed the errant time-locked transactions provided an attack vector for miners to steal transaction fees  from one another via “fee-sniping.” According to the engineer, the backlog of time-locked transactions were being purposefully designed for a “potentially disruptive mining strategy” involving the theft of miner fees. 

In an interview with CoinDesk, 0xb10c said time-locked transactions represented a “low-priority” problem at present that could eventually balloon to involve the wider network. He explained that fee-sniping would become more lucrative in a few years as the majority of miner income shifts towards transaction fees. 

He continued, 

A fix for this has been released in early 2020. However, it will take a while before all instances of the currently deployed software are upgraded.

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