Donʼt criminalize Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies!
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Did you know that the U.S. Senate is proposing to include Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in the definition of money for the purposes of an upcoming piece of legislation - “Combating Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Counterfeiting Act of 2017”?
It is including Bitcoin in this definition in order to criminalize the use of Bitcoin under certain circumstances, despite the fact that other states and federal agencies have taken conflicting positions on the economic nature of cryptocurrencies and the legal approach to regulating such a new technology.
It is a similarly inappropriate and premature classification of Bitcoin as money by the Department of Justice that has resulted in innocent Bitcoin traders being thrown in jail.
The Bitcoin Foundation is sending a letter of opposition to members of the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary in early September 2017.
Some of the key points from The Bitcoin Foundationʼs opposition letter are outlined below:
The Bitcoin Foundation opposes Section 13 of “Combating Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Counterfeiting Act of 2017” (S.1241), to the extent that it includes “digital currencies” for purposes of Subchapter II of Title 31 of the U.S. Code, dealing with “Records and Reports on Monetary Instruments Transactions."
Bitcoin lacks the characteristic of monetary instruments or financial products which S. 1241ʼs Section 13 attempts to regulate. In the news release announcing the billʼs introduction, Senator Grassley explicitly states that he is targeting digital currencies because of its potential use by terrorist organizations. Contrary to this assertion, there is little to no systemic evidence that terrorist organizations use virtual currencies.
Not only would Section 13 of the Bill, to the extent it includes “digital currencies” for purposes of Subchapter II of Title 31 of the U.S. Code, have no impact on current or potential criminal activity, it would most certainly stifle technological advances and would in fact over-criminalize any legitimate use of Bitcoin in normal business activities. Therefore, this section should be withdrawn.
Furthermore, the Senate Committee should investigate the U.S. DOJʼs policy of prosecuting individual Bitcoiners who exchange bitcoin for cash or other financial instruments under the federal money transmitting statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1960.
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