Coinbase Law Enforcement Requests Have Tripled in Just Three Years

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Coinbase Law Enforcement Requests Have Tripled in Just Three Years
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Crypto exchange Coinbase received three times as many law enforcement requests this year as it did in 2020, according to its new transparency report.

Nearly half of those requests came from the United States. Germany accounted for another 15% of the 13,079 requests for information, followed by the United Kingdom and Spain. Almost all of the requests, 96% of them, were related to criminal investigations. The remainder had to do with civil or administrative matters.

“Where necessary, we will seek to narrow requests that are overly broad or vague in order to provide a more appropriately tailored response, and in some cases we object to producing any information at all,” Coinbase chief legal officer Paul Grewal wrote in the report. “We also aim to provide anonymized or aggregated data that aids law enforcement and government agencies with their work, where it is possible to do so, instead of providing individual customer information.”

Voluntary transparency reports about government requests for data are pretty common now among large tech companies like Verizon, AT&T, Apple, and Google. And Coinbase’s total, although it represents a 6% increase over 2022, pales in comparison to the 127,766 requests sent to Verizon in just the first half of this year.

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For the sake of comparison within the industry, San Francisco-based crypto exchange Kraken reported 3,705 law enforcement requests in 2022. That year, the majority of requests for Kraken data and customer information came from outside the United States. 

In 2023, Coinbase saw a threefold increase in requests from Ukraine. Meanwhile, requests from government agencies in Australia, Portugal, Romania, and Nigeria more than doubled, according to the report. 

The company has placed a big emphasis on its efforts to expand globally. Earlier this week, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong told Decrypt that for all the times the crypto exchange asked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for guidance, it was dismayed to instead receive a lawsuit. The SEC charged Coinbase with operating an unregistered securities exchange in June.

The company also sent an email to some of its customers yesterday informing them that it might be forced to share their trading data with the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) after receiving a subpoena from the regulator.

On Thursday afternoon, Coinbase shares—which trade on Nasdaq under the COIN ticker—were down 4% compared to the day before, changing hands for $123.76 at the time of writing. But that 24-hour dip is nowhere near big enough to erase COIN’s recent upswing. Earlier this week, the company set a yearly high of $128.27 per share.

Edited by Guillermo Jimenez

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