back to article EU's Paris terror response includes 'virtual currencies' crimp

The European Commission's Justice and Home Affairs Council met last Friday to consider responses to the terrorist attack on Paris and among the actions the meeting decided are now necessary is a look at how to crimp virtual currencies. The Council's decided on 13 responses to the Paris attacks, including a call for member …

  1. Charles Manning


    It has also been brought to our attention that terrorists use the roads and depend on the laws of physics.

    We therefore need to find ways to control road use and gravity.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Roads....

      There you have shown the stupidity of the political elite and their knee jerk reactions to not only this but everything they get involved with.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Roads....

        Given that it was in France they probably used the excellent national rail service.

        Congratulations to our fore-sighted government for preventing such a risk in Britain

        1. JimmyPage Silver badge
          Black Helicopters

          Re:Congratulations to our fore-sighted government for preventing such a risk in Britain.

          You jest, but actually I suspect this is a real thing.

          I live in Birmingham, and in the past few weeks, mysterious "roadworks" have cropped up - coned off carriageways with **** all work going on. When combined with *real* works the overall effect is to make the flow of traffic through the city "sticky". It's not gridlock, but careful inspection reveals there are now several pinch points where cars are forced into single lanes. Something an operation to detain a suspect vehicle would find invaluable. The fact Birmingham (like all major cities) is ringed with non-speed ANPR cameras may be a factor.

          Likewise, overt summer, when there were murmurs of mass social unrest, a few people noticed that the net effect of all the rail system *and* trunk road maintenance was to prevent rapid mass rapid movement of people.

          1. E2

            Re: Re:Congratulations to our fore-sighted government for preventing such a risk in Britain.

            Very probably co-incidence. But the systems being put in place for the future will allow this, and it'd be silly to think that they will not be used.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Roads....

          our own terror suspects are more cunning, they tend to walk on the roadside, pretending to be lost, in vain hope to get picked up by an unsuspecting, friendly UK family with spare room in their boot, and then...

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Roads....

          Given that it was in France they probably used the excellent national rail service.

          Excellent? On the same day as the attacks, France suffered the first ever derailment of a TGV, a test train running on a new as-yet-unopened line, with 10 fatalities. They don't know why it derailed (no suggestion of terrorism, though), nor do they know why there were "guests" (mostly children) on what should have been a closed, staff-only, test run. Professional, what?

          TGVs aren't too bad, the rest of French railways would make you pine for the days of British Rail. BR was more punctual, less crowded, and less likely to be on strike.

    2. Sanctimonious Prick

      Re: Roads....

      They also use the time when arranging meetings and attacks. Time to ban the time!

    3. Francis Vaughan

      Re: Roads....

      I think everyone has missed the phrase "in line with the risk they present" in the quote.

      This isn't a call for blanket controls and surveillance. (At least not yet). Mostly it is sensible.

      Assuming it is in-line with the risk. But it isn't as if they have infinite resources.

    4. E2

      Re: Roads....

      They intend doing this. What do you think thegovernment' interest in automated cars, MaaS, etc. is.

    5. Bota

      Re: Roads....

      Roads? For what? The car which will be illegal because "climate change", did you pay your carbon tax citizen? And it's after 3pm where are your papers?

  2. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Virtual currency? How about "follow the money" instead?

    It would seem that since the group in the spotlight (ISIL, ISIS, or whatever they're calling themselves) have most of their major income from oil... sort out the companies buying the oil and the banks (aha.. there's why this won't happen) that transfer the funds.

    This part seems more like looking in someone's wallet instead of at armored car behind them handing out the money.

    Everything in this seems like so much eyewash and feel good stuff that won't accomplish a thing. However, as the article points out.. they never do anything "quickly" (for some value of quickly) so this may never come to pass.

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Virtual currency? How about "follow the money" instead?

      Any large organization requires some form financial assets with illegal and terrorist groups needing fronts to launder the money. They are always vulnerable to either being traced by the financial records (Mafia, terrorist groups) or shutdown (online pharmacies) because of their dependency on being able to move money around.

    2. Vic

      Re: Virtual currency? How about "follow the money" instead?

      they never do anything "quickly" (for some value of quickly) so this may never come to pass.

      Many of our Dear Leaders have been trying to get spy data flowing throughout Europe; I suspect this attack will be the stroke of luck they've been waiting for...

      I note that the article talks about "unintended consequences". I believe this to be an empty set.


      1. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge

        Re: Virtual currency? How about "follow the money" instead?

        You are using flowery because you don't want to be called a conspiracy theorist. To me the event was a set up to generate just the sort of 'reactions' we are see. The event seems a bit desperate to me since they already had one terror thing in Paris this year. Perhaps some consequences will be unwelcome because it's counter to a unified EU. However boarders can be left open if every individual can be 'chipped' and tracked. Fortunately the Smartphones have 'chipped' most people and are even being used as money by many banks and shops.

        Really this event is good for everyone, except ISIS and Extremists like myself and yourself.

  3. Steven Roper

    Some perspective

    While our governments are using the Paris attacks to strip away what few freedoms we have left in the name of keeping us safe, I'd like to ask them three questions:

    How many people died in the Paris attacks? How many people have died in car crashes since the attacks happened?

    And how does stripping away our freedoms keep us safe when we're so much more likely to die in a car crash than be murdered by terrorists?

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Some perspective

      You're 100% right. There's no major scream by the media about auto deaths. There's no "think of the children" dying in car crashes.

      However, if there were a reason to strip away freedoms and give the governments more control using car crashes as a reason, I suspect there would be a large media and governmental office PR blitz to make everyone think it's a great idea.

      1. billse10

        Re: Some perspective

        [a tangent, sorry - but remember the Freakonomics treatment of children's car safety seats? If ever there was a "think of the children" issue in car crash safety - for the occupants of the car, I mean ..... ]

    2. Dr Scrum Master

      Re: Some perspective

      If US state governors wanted to protect their citizens, they'd deny entry to Americans (both in and out of uniform) rather than Syrian refugees.

    3. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: Some perspective

      A day or so after the Paris attacks, the French police stormed hundreds of suspected terrorists. There's no-way they could have found that many suspects in 24 hours, so they must have know about all these people before hand.

      So the other 99.9999925%[1] of France are going to be subjected to more state surveillance and restrictions from knee-jerk, head-line grabbing politicians.

      As per other terrorist attacks, it's not that the authorities didn't know who were suspects. MI5 have admitted that it is impossible to keep tabs on every terrorist suspect. Plus you have the usual issue of false positives and false negatives.

      It's practically impossible to prevent anyone carrying out terrorist attacks. I know it sounds harsh, but we have to learn to live with the fact that there will always be deaths due to terrorists. The job of the police & security services is to minimise those deaths.

      I seem to recall that when John Prescott was deputy prime minister, he vetoed a train safety program: Not because he didn't think it would save lives, but that the cost to save each live was actually too high. We have to have public discussion over these issues. Politicians making knee-jerk reactions are not the way to do it.

      We have to remember that politicians are not interested in what's best for the country, but what's going to keep them in office,

      [1] Google says the population of France is just under 65 million. Assume 500 people in total arrested/investigated.

    4. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: Steve Doper Re: Some perspective

      "....strip away what few freedoms we have left...." Seriously, get a clue! Alternatively, if people trying to protect you upsets you that much, please feel free to emigrate somewhere else, you won't be missed.

      1. FlamingDeath

        Re: Steve Doper Some perspective

        I don't remember giving you permission to speak on my behalf, Are you the official spokesperson of a nation?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Steve Doper Some perspective

        "if people trying to protect you upsets you that much, please feel free to emigrate somewhere else, you won't be missed." -- Matt Bryant

        I think the commentard consensus is that these are exactly the kind of knee-jerk (not to mention ad hom.) responses that we should be avoiding. Nearly all auto deaths could be prevented in Britain by a blanket national speed limit of 20mph: that would save one "Paris" every month. I could be protected from myself and others by being locked in a padded cell for the rest of my life --- would I not have grounds to object to this?

        If you think that the impact on freedoms proposed by anti-terror measures is offset by an increase in safety, you can argue that point below. If think that absolutely any decrease in mortality is worth an arbitrary loss of liberty, then presumably you would rather start with the most cost-effective measures: and those would probably be: a rigorously enforced diet and exercise regimen for the entire country; a total ban on alcohol and tobacco; a virtual ban on all fatty and sugary food; severe rationing of red and processed meat; vehicles modified to conform to whatever low speed limits are set; compulsory health screening; a massive expansion of health and safety legislation and monitoring; and cameras fitted in each home to prevent one being murdered by one's spouse.

        If you seriously wish to impose such draconian living conditions in the UK, "please feel free to emigrate somewhere else, you won't be missed."

      3. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Steve Doper Some perspective

        > ""....strip away what few freedoms we have left...." Seriously, get a clue! Alternatively, if people trying to protect you upsets you that much, please feel free to emigrate somewhere else, you won't be missed."

        I guess the government of North Korea 'think' it's protecting it's people too...

        If you wish to protected so much, perhaps you'd like to emigrate somewhere where they take care of you like you think they should.

      4. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: Steve Doper Some perspective

        Matt - if I seriously thought that this is anything to do with protecting ordinary citizens, then I'd have a different opinion than I do. The ordinary citizen is not going to benefit from this - in fact, it is going to make things worse. My wife and I recently almost lost the chance to buy a house because of the stupid money-laundering rules and the way it is inconsistently applied (money from parents' savings in another EU country not sufficiently traceable for one mortgage lender to accept it as a deposit*). Going back to the Paris attacks, and as I posted on another thread here over the weekend, the message I've taken from it is that even a well-organised, well-equipped attack which was the equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel** killed only a few people relative to the number of potential targets. There is clearly much less to be afraid of than governments would have us believe. If Hollande hadn't been so relatively close to the bombers, I suspect the response would have been much more measured - the little toad is crapping himself that he might have been in the vicinity of a bomb.

        * We were not the only ones - people coming to work for the same employer moving to the UK after selling their properties in other countries were not allowed to use the proceeds as a deposit by several lenders.

        ** Do people actually shoot fish, in barrels or anywhere else?

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Some perspective

      How many people died in the Paris attacks? How many people have died in car crashes since the attacks happened?

      I made that exact point in the comments of a French newspaper after the attacks. My comment was "moderated" away, and comments on the article closed.

      1. Vic

        Re: Some perspective

        I made that exact point in the comments of a French newspaper after the attacks.

        Perhaps that was not really an appropriate forum for such comment, even if it is true.


        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Some perspective

          Perhaps that was not really an appropriate forum for such comment,

          It was in reply to people complaining about the over-cautious cancellation of various public events, so seemed proportionate to the discussion.

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Right, time to link databases

    Because the perps were absolutely not known by police forces, no sir. Their whereabouts could absolutely not have been discerned with a bit of eyeball surveillance, not at all. There is no way anyone could have known what the perps were up to if they had simply gone out the bloody door to find out.

    Yep, linking databases is the solution. Yessirreeee.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. DougS Silver badge

    Stopping movement of non-banking currencies

    Forget bitcoin and gold. If I want to move money you can use diamonds. The have a very high value to weight/size ratio and are effectively untraceable. Even more importantly it wouldn't really raise suspicions if a refugee was found with them sewn in their clothes - it isn't like they can spend Syrian cash in Europe. Diamonds would be ideal for black market transactions (i.e. if you want to buy guns that aren't so readily available in most of Europe) since you wouldn't need to convert them to cash first but could spend them directly.

    For smaller transactions like food and lodging bring over some collectible coins/stamps, which can be sold in any pawn shop without drawing any attention (especially if you looked strung out, making them assume you are a junkie who burgled a house, rather than a terrorist trying to pay living expenses for a couple months while planning a strike)

    1. Francis Vaughan

      Re: Stopping movement of non-banking currencies

      Been watching too many movies. The problem with diamonds is that they are implicitly an illicit commodity. Outside of the controlled market of deBeers - where the prices are artificially high, diamonds are dirty from the outset. So you are already dealing with other criminals, or shady to black markets. This is not a sensible place to be if you are trying to be discreet and move money about to fund anti-state activities. What is needed is proper first class fungible assets. You can buy anything with a fist full of Euros or Dollars. The first thing you need to do with diamonds is to try to convert them into Euros or Dollars. It is at this point you need a market that wishes to buy your diamonds - for which you can expect a highly discounted price, and you will be selling them to an untrusted, implicitly criminal, buyer. Assuming it isn't a sting run by the local security agencies. A sack of greasy Euros won't attract attention on the black market. Diamonds most certainly would.

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: Stopping movement of non-banking currencies

        Not to mention that on a general-market-level, resale value of diamonds is absolutely horrifyingly bad. You need to be in the diamond business (and that's a very, very closed club) to ever hope to get a fair price selling them on, as anyone who ever tried actually selling on their shiny rock learned: normally one can only do that for peanuts compared to the purchase price...

    2. Sir Alien

      Re: Stopping movement of non-banking currencies

      Don't forget that most diamonds have serial numbers micro-laser etched into them. Although you cannot see it with the naked eye, if you place it under a microscope you will see the serial number.

      So normal diamonds that Joe Public and purchase are traceable. Uncut diamonds as far as I know are illegal in most countries.

      - S.A

  6. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge

    A sort of AirBnB for bad guys?

    Join up the databases so that criminals can plan their vacation to another country. You only need a few bent cops with access to make this happen :(

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    how to crimp virtual currencies

    and barter! Don't forget to ban barter! It's well-known that all sorts of criminals, particularly terrorists and peadophiles use barter to avoid detection! On top of which they don't pay due taxes!

  8. tiggity Silver badge


    An interesting form of money transfer system that has been in use for ages .... v. commonly used by Moslems for cross border financial "transfers" (quotes are there as often does not need to involve physical cross border asset transfer, & certainly not any physical transfer contemporaneously with the transaction) that uses an honour system

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge

      Re: Hawala uses an honour system

      Something I suspect western banking systems may struggle to understand.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Hawala uses an honour system

        Something I suspect western banking systems may struggle to understand.

        Except when prefixed by "New Year's" or "Queen's Birthday", of course.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hawala

      m̶o̶s̶l̶e̶m̶ Muslim please. Old spelling is deprecated if you don't mind, thanks.

  9. Dan 55 Silver badge

    "the illicit trade in cultural goods"

    What's this and what's it got to do with terrorism? It sounds like music and films, again.

  10. Templogin

    Petty Cash

    No-one has mentioned the petty cash tin!

    1. Ian 55

      Re: Petty Cash

      "The petty cash tin!"

  11. Bota

    The Paris attacks had:

    An Intel "training exercise" the same day, for the same scenario, like 9.11 and 7.7.

    Passports made of amazingly tough material, able to survive perfectly explosions and fire, like 9.11 and 7.7.

    The people involved #cough cough, we're known to the intelligence agencies. Yet they took no action. It's almost like they wanted it to happen isn't it?

    Fishier than a tarts knickers.

    *side note* the main building involved was previously owned by the mossad linked idf. Just saying.

  12. David Roberts
    Black Helicopters

    One of the biggest financial risks...... the hijacking of user bank accounts to move untraceable funds around the world.

    The Government ahould therefore be encouraging strong encryption (possibly with two factor authentication) to secure all banking and allied transactions.

    They should also be mobilising the full strength of GCHQ to eliminate phishing, SPAM, and other well known vectors vie web site, email and phone.

    In related news, the Government can't afford realistic policing using real people to evaluate intelligence so they are taking the default position of passing legislation instead so that it looks as though they are actually doing something. They don't have enough people to evaluate and act on the current level of information being gathered.

    One thing - linking all the national databases of criminals and terrorist suspects might be a good thing on balance, as this might prevent rapists and murderers leaving their criminal record behing when moving to another part of the EU. Assuming, of course, that there are enough real police to look in the records. Which also will probably be only after a crime has been commited. It might at least prevent known criminals leaving and entering the EU.

    The problem with any legislation which seems to work in very specific circumstances is that it may be a bad thing for most other circumstances. See RIPA.

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