On Friday, both the European Council and European Parliament gave their final consent to clampdown on cryptocurrency so as to combat money laundering, tax evasion, and financing terrorism. European Union (EU) members will need to adopt the new cryptocurrency rules within an 18 month period, the end of which will signal the enshrining of the law.

The controversial factor of anonymity that is offered by cryptocurrencies has been met with the unfortunate consequence that getting away with cyber crime is quite easy. Attempting to fix this, the European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Věra Jourová has explained that,

“today’s agreement will bring more transparency to improve the prevention of money laundering and to cut off terrorist financing.” 

There are a host of changes set to take place as part of this lockdown, such as cryptocurrency exchanges and wallet providers now being required to identify users, or that national investigators are being granted more access to information than ever.

By pushing for increased transparency, the regulators have had to lessen the value that they attribute to individual freedom. This tussle between privacy and anonymity has existed for as long as humans have lived in tribes with social structures. For Bitcoin and other virtual currencies, they are merely the latest microcosm to illustrate this paradigm.

It was reported by Deutsche Welle (DW), a German broadcaster, that more than a year of negotiations were required before the appraisal was approved, demonstrating just how nuanced this dualist tussle between anonymity and privacy really is. Even then, there are still those in the EU who are voicing disapproval of these new regulations, including Malta, Luxembourg, Ireland, Cyprus, and Britain (still a current member).

These new rules involving cryptocurrency by the EU are part of a larger package that is imposing stricter controls on pre-paid cards, and greater transparency regarding company disclosure and trust funds.

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