The US House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill on Monday (June 25) to mandate the US Comptroller General to undertake a study to examine the role of cryptocurrencies in illicit transactions.
Bill H.R. 6069, also known under the title of the Fight Illicit Networks and Detect Trafficking Act, was “passed unanimously,” according to California Rep. Juan Vargas, the representative who jointly introduced the bill with Rep. Keith Rothfus.
If passed into law, the bill would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to carry out a study on how virtual currencies and online marketplaces are used to buy, sell, or facilitate the financing of goods or services associated with sex trafficking or drug trafficking.
“Cryptocurrencies can mask traffickers’ transactions, affording them a level of anonymity when conducting illegal activities. This bipartisan legislation will help the government expose new criminal methods to move illicit funds, and provide ways to stop them,” said Rothfus.
“Illicit markets where drug and human trafficking take place are constantly evolving, especially on the dark web. I am proud to see my colleagues join Representative Vargas and me on this critical issue. I hope this bill sees its way through the Senate to the President’s desk,” he added.
The passage of the bill through the House follows the testimony of Deputy Assistant Director of the US Secret Service’s Office of Investigations Robert Novy, who earlier this month asked Congress for help in preventing cryptocurrencies like Monero and Zcash, which provide users with enhanced privacy and anonymity features, from being used for illicit purposes.
“We should… consider additional legislative or regulatory actions to address potential challenges related to anonymity-enhanced cryptocurrencies,” Robert Novy wrote in his testimony to Congress.
The bill also comes hot on the heels of the first nationwide undercover operation targeting darknet vendors which resulted in the arrests of more than 35 individuals selling illicit goods and the seizure of weapons, drugs and more than $23.6 million according to the US Department of Justice.
The undercover operation was coordinated by the Department of Justice, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the US Secret Service (USSS), the US Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
The Department of Justice announced the results of this year-long, coordinated national operation on Tuesday (June 26).
“Criminals who think that they are safe on the Darknet are wrong,” said US Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein.
“We can expose their networks and we are determined to bring them to justice. Today, we arrested more than 35 alleged Darknet vendors. We seized their weapons, their drugs, and $23.6 million of their ill-gotten gains,” he added.