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Singapore to introduce law governing police use of COVID-19 contact tracing data

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Days after it was revealed Singapore’s law enforcement can access COVID-19 contact tracing data for criminal probes, the government now says it will pass legislation to specify when such access will be permitted. It is doing so to “formalise” its assurance that access to the data will be restricted to serious offences. 

The new law would outline seven categories during which personal data, collected for the purpose of contact tracing, could be used by the police for investigations, inquiries, or court proceedings, according to the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office, which is parked under the Prime Minister’s Office. 

These seven categories would comprise:

  1. Offences involving the use or possession of corrosive substances or dangerous weapons, such as possession of firearms
  2. Terrorism-related offences detailed under the country’s terrorism laws
  3. Crimes in which the victim is seriously hurt or killed such as murder or voluntarily causing grievous hurt
  4. Drug trafficking offences that involve the death penalty
  5. Escape from legal custody where the suspect may cause imminent harm to others
  6. Kidnapping
  7. Serious sexual offences

COVID-19 contact tracing data would not be used for police investigations, inquiries, or court proceedings outside of these seven categories, the Smart Nation Office said in a statement Friday. 

It added that the legislation would be introduced at the next parliament session in February. 

This move comes days after the government’s revelation that data gathered by the country’s contact tracing platform, TraceTogether, can be used for police investigations. The news contradicted previous assertions that the data would only be be accessed if the user tests positive for the virus and months after the contact tracing app was launched last March.

To date, more than 4.2 million residents or 78% of the local population have adopted the TraceTogether app and wearable token, with a recent spike in adoption likely fuelled by the government’s announcement that use of the app or token would be mandatory for entry into public venues in early-2021.

TraceTogether taps Bluetooth signals to detect other participating mobile devices — within 2 metres of each other for more than 30 minutes — to allow them to identify those who have been in close contact when needed.

In defending its decision to allow the police access to the data, the Singapore government said this was necessary to safeguard public safety and interest. It  also revealed that the data already had been tapped at least once to assist in a homicide investigation

In its statement Friday, the Smart Nation Office acknowledged it had made an “error” in not stating that data from TraceTogether would not be exempt from the country’s Criminal Procedure Code, which empowered the police to obtain any data for its investigations. 

It said the new legislation would “formalise” the government’s assurances that the use of contact tracing data outside of its primary purpose would be restricted to serious offences.

Minister for Law and Home Affairs K. Shanmugam had said earlier this week that police access to TraceTogether data was restricted to “very serious offences”, given the “national importance” of the contact tracing platform in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. “While that requirement is not in the legislation, it will be carefully considered within the police and discretion will be exercised in seeking this information,” Shanmugam said. 

Minister-in-Charge of the Smart Nation Initiative and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Vivian Balakrishnan, also pledged that once the pandemic was over and contact tracing data deemed unnecessary, the TraceTogether programme would be stood down. 

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Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/singapore-to-introduce-law-governing-police-use-of-covid-19-contact-tracing-data/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

Blockchain

Bulgarian Crypto Exchange Owner Sentenced To 10 Years in Prison for Laundering $5 Million

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A Bulgarian national was sentenced to serve ten years in prison after a major crypto-related fraud. Not long ago, the man was convicted in a transnational multimillion-dollar scheme to defraud over 900 American citizens.

An Auction Fraud That Victimized over 900 Americans

According to an official announcement by the United States Department of Justice, Rossen G. Yossifov, a 53-year-old man, had defrauded hundreds of American citizens during a well-masterminded illegal endeavor.

He managed and promoted the so-called RG Coins – a cryptocurrency exchange headquartered in Sofia, Bulgaria. Now, the US court has sentenced him for conspiracy to commit a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) offense plus a conspiracy to commit money laundering.

During the crime, Iossifov and his Romanian co-conspirators, part of the Alexandria Online Auction Fraud (AOAF) Network, engaged a large-scale online fraud. They organized a false auction that victimized at least 900 Americans during its course.

As CryptoPotato reported, Iossifov was officially charged with participating and dictating the international fraud a few months ago. 

Providing Favorable Crypto Exchange Rates To Victims

According to initial court documents, the scammers made everything seem legit, providing invoices with trademarks of reputable firms to their victims.

One of the primary ways to lure people into the scam was that the conspirators designed their scheme to cater to criminal enterprises by providing better exchange rates to the AOAF Network members.

The Romania-based fraudsters posted false advertisements to popularize online auctions for expensive goods and vehicles that did not exist. They had also established call centers to offer customer support to advise client questions and “alleviate concerns over the advertisements.”

When convinced, victims had to fulfill a payment. Domestic associates of the criminals would accept the money, convert them into cryptocurrency, and transfer them to foreign-based money launderers. As per the announcement, Iossifov was the final gear that facilitated the last stage of the scheme.

Some of the trial’s evidence revealed that, in less than three years, Iossifov had laundered nearly $5 million in cryptocurrency for just four of his partners.

“This represented over $7 million in funds defrauded from American victims. In return, Iossifov made over $184,000 in proceeds from these transactions”, read the official court publication.

Apart from Iossifov and the five co-operators, so far, 17 more members of the Romanian crime network will face court for their role in this scheme. Seven others have already faced sentences with verdicts between 30 to 96 months. Three of the members of the scam are fugitives.

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Source: https://cryptopotato.com/bulgarian-crypto-exchange-owner-sentenced-to-10-years-in-prison-for-laundering-5-million/

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Six-Figure Bitcoin Price Predictions Back on The Table

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This has resulted in the renewal of six-figure price predictions for this market cycle, with some suggesting a top of $300,000 this time around.

At the time of writing, Bitcoin was trading at $37,900 after reaching an intraday high of $40,000 according to Tradingview.com. The asset had started to fall back during the Asian trading session on Friday and had failed to break its previous high of $42,000 but the sentiment is still very bullish.

Total crypto market capitalization has topped a trillion dollars again as some of the altcoins, such as Polkadot, make monumental 24-hour gains.

When Will Bitcoin Top $100K?

Popular traders and analysts are back in the game of predicting prices and they’re largely in agreement that this market cycle will result in six figure Bitcoin prices.

Josh Rager said that he thinks Bitcoin will see a six-figure price by early 2022;

He added that at this peak, the name of ‘Bitcoin’ will be mentioned on every TV, phone, and tablet around the world.

“This could certainly be the cycle that leads to Bitcoin becoming a household name along with serious adoption from those who once mocked peer-to-peer digital money,”

Fellow trader ‘TraderKoz’, who has 28k followers on twitter added that at a guess he would say that this cycle takes us to $250k to $350k.

“From there, we have 3 years of accumulation in the $60-90k range before Bitcoin takes over the entire financial system. That bull run will take us to over $1,000,000,”

Michael Saylor, who’s institutional investment firm MicroStrategy has been buying up large swathes of Bitcoin, continues to post bullish tweets about the asset to his 330k followers;

The Institutional Effect

Aggregated derivative exchange data provider Bybit reported that Bitcoin institutional inflows are showing no signs of slowing down, adding that there may be a new round of buying by Grayscale.

Grayscale itself reported an assets under management (AUM) figure of $27.7 billion in its most recent update. The company has also just released its fourth-quarter report revealing that there was record investor demand in the period, with approximately $3.3 billion in inflows.

The story made such an impact that even Reuters picked it up.

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Source: https://cryptopotato.com/six-figure-bitcoin-price-predictions-back-on-the-table/

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Blockchain

$500K Bitcoin Donation Funneled to Groups Involved in US Capitol Riot: Analysis

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Blockchain intelligence firm Chainalysis has tracked simultaneous Bitcoin (BTC) donations to wallets associated with right-wing extremist groups in the U.S., which might have helped fund the recent riot at the U.S. Capitol. The news marks yet another pivot towards pseudonymous money transfer means by alt-right groups in the U.S.

Alt-Right Agitators Received $500K in Bitcoin Prior to US Capitol Riot

Publishing its findings on Thursday (Jan. 14, 2021), Chainalysis revealed that several notable alt-right personalities who were present at the Jan. 6 riot in the U.S. Capitol received substantial Bitcoin donations.

According to Chainalysis, a single donor funneled 18.15 BTC to addresses belonging to entities with right-leaning affiliations on Dec. 8, 2020. At the time, this figure was worth over $500,000.

In its report, Chainalysis also revealed that popular far-right political commentator Nick Fuentes received 13.5 BTC. There are a few photographic pieces of evidence placing Fuentes at the riot with a megaphone in hand though Fuentes has denied entering the building itself.

Apart from him, alt-right podcaster Ethan Ralph and VDARE — an anti-immigration organization — also received BTC sums from the donor. While Chainalysis did not reveal the identity of the person responsible for funneling the Bitcoin, the crypto forensics outfit did mention that there strong evidence that the donor is a French computer programmer.

An examination into the donor’s wallet shows that the person is likely an early Bitcoin adopter. Further investigation into the donor shows a history of donations to extremist causes with an alleged suicide note referencing known alt-right talking points.

Based on these findings, U.S. law enforcement officials are reportedly investigating possible links between the donations and the assault on the Capitol. Prosecutors also say that they are approaching the investigations from a counterterrorism and counterintelligence standpoint.

Financial Censorship Triggering Crypto Adoption

Alt-right groups receiving donations in Bitcoin is only the latest example of political and social groups with dissident ideologies embracing cryptocurrencies. Indeed, Bitcoin’s early history is somewhat intertwined with WikiLeaks especially after the establishment was cut off from mainstream funding sources.

Even countries facing economic sanctions are also adopting cryptocurrencies. Venezuela is a popular example, with the Maduro administration even creating its own oil-backed Petro “coin.”

Nations like Iran are actively supporting Bitcoin mining with tax breaks for BTC miners. As previously reported by CryptoPotato, the output from three power plants has been offered to miners in the country.

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Source: https://cryptopotato.com/500k-bitcoin-donation-funneled-to-groups-involved-in-us-capitol-riot-analysis/

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