On June 21 the acting director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, gave a speech to U.S. bureaucrats requesting a new budget for the fiscal year of 2018. The request proposal totals of $8.77 billion, and some of that funding will be appropriated towards investigating the use of virtual currencies by criminals who “obscure their transactions.”
FBI Budget Request Asks for $63 Million to Combat Cyber Threats and the ‘Going Dark’ Program
During this year’s FBI budget hearing Andrew McCabe asked for continued support during the agency’s leadership transition period. McCabe has taken the place of former FBI director James Comey who was let go by President Donald Trump. The acting director has the same concerns as Comey did in regards to the challenges involved with gaining access to digital information.
The $8 billion dollar request will enhance eight programs that McCabe says are critical requirements for the agency’s day to day operations. Quite a bit of the funding will go towards fighting cyber crime and battling technologies that provide anonymity.
“$41.5 million to enhance cyber investigative capabilities, and $21.6 million for operational technology investments related to the ‘Going Dark’ initiative,” details McCabe’s report.
Virtual Currencies Obscuring Illicit Transactions
The ‘Going Dark’ initiative was first described by James Comey in the past who explained that technologies like encryption and digital currencies were making it difficult for the FBI’s investigations. The main point of the ‘Going Dark’ summary details that agents cannot access certain devices because of stronger encryption. Alongside this, technologies such as cryptocurrencies are being used to anonymize financial transactions tied to illicit activity.
Some of our criminal investigators face the challenge of identifying online pedophiles who hide their crimes and identities behind layers of anonymizing technologies, or drug traffickers who use virtual currencies to obscure their transactions.
Funding Will Help Improve the FBI’s Resources Against Key Threats and Challenges
McCabe’s transcript details that FBI agents are using “technical capabilities and traditional investigative techniques,” to mitigate “cyber threats” and the challenge of “going dark.” The report says the monetary request will help address “key threats and challenges that we are facing, both as a nation and as an organization.”
The detailed budget request comes at a time when the U.S. government and law enforcement agencies are showing an increased focus on digital currencies as “monetary instruments” used in criminal funding. Senate Bill 1241 dubbed the “Combating Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Counterfeiting Act” also asks government agencies such as the FBI, CIA, and Homeland Security to increase their efforts researching these technologies.