Cyber Culture: If Al Capone had a digital money reserve...
Rhodri Marsden is the Technology Columnist for The Independent; he has also written about crumpets, Captain Beefheart, rude place names and string. He's also a musician who plays in the band Scritti Politti, and won the under-10 piano category at the 1980 Watford Music Festival by playing a piece called "Silver Trumpets" with verve and aplomb.
Wednesday 12 June 2013
The chances are that the recent shutdown of the payment service Liberty Reserve didn't impinge much on your consciousness, unless you have a habit of making no-questions-asked transactions online.
The arrest of its founder last week marks the beginning of what's been called the largest online money- laundering case in history, with an estimated $6bn (£3.8bn) of criminal proceeds funnelled through a payment system where anonymity was guaranteed. Unlike its squeaky-clean equivalent, Paypal, Liberty Reserve ignored the "know your customer" rules that financial services must comply with to verify the integrity of each transaction; all it asked for was an email address. This was the digital equivalent of brown envelopes stuffed with £20 notes.
Anti-fraud investigators will have their work cut out to stamp out anonymous payment systems completely, however. There's huge demand for them among the criminal fraternity, and their transfers will have simply moved across to other payment services such as WebMoney, Perfect Money and cashU. "If Al Capone [pictured] were alive today," said an IRS spokesman, "[Liberty Reserve] is where he would be hiding his money."
But go forward a few decades, when cash has become obsolete. In the wake of the NSA scandal, where we're left wondering what privacy we really have, it'll be to the likes of Liberty Reserve that we turn to hide the paper trail of our whims and deviations. Today Al Capone, tomorrow you and I.
Life & Style blogs
What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
Why you should never make assumptions about people with autism
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
From criminal to catwalk: Convict Jeremy Meeks wins modelling contract in the most unusual fashion scouting – behind bars
Holi: Festival of colours honoured with Google Doodle – here's what you need to know about the celebration
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Elif Shafak: Turkish author warns against rise of British nationalism
Ex-head of MI6: 'We shouldn't kid ourselves that Russia is on a path to democracy'
Most people think legal tax avoidance is just as wrong as illegal tax evasion, poll suggests
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
- 3 World Book Day: Boy 'excluded' from school after dressing up as Fifty Shades' Christian Grey
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 GamerGate: developer Tim Schafer provokes rage with joke about online gaming activists at industry awards
iJobs Gadgets & Tech
£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A long-established, technology rich ...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing experience-led technology co...
£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has now arisen for a Sale...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to continued growth an exce...