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Bitcoin Government Your Rights Online

Ask Slashdot: Should Bitcoin Be Regulated? 385

Posted by Soulskill
from the and-what-about-monopoly-money dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Federal regulators are starting to make noise about Bitcoin, the digital currency that's gained in recognition and value over the past few years: the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is offering up 'guidance' for digital currency and those who use it as part of commerce. But the Bitcoin Foundation, which is devoted to standardizing and promoting the currency, doesn't like that idea; as Patric Murck, the organization's general counsel, wrote in a March 19 blog posting: 'If FinCEN would like to expand its statutory authority over "money transmitters" to include brand new categories such as "administrators" and "exchangers" of digital currency it must do so through proper rulemaking proceedings and not by fiat.' If Bitcoin continues to gain in value, it could spark a rise in virtual currencies—and force some very interesting discussions over regulation. But here's the question: would regulation actually be good for Bitcoin, if it made organizations and businesses more comfortable with using it as a currency?"
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Ask Slashdot: Should Bitcoin Be Regulated?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 30, 2013 @05:35PM (#43320845)

    Here's another pointless story to remind you to invest in it! You'll be a billionaire!

  • Re:You Can Try (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AuMatar (183847) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @06:00PM (#43321023)

    Wow, that's an entirely laughable concept. Its quite easy to regulate- make it illegal to accept it as payment, and arrest anyone who takes payment in it. It wouldn't entirely stamp it out, but it would make it useless in day to day commerce, which will relegate it to a niche in black market trades at best. In reality it would pretty much kill it in any country that did it- normal people are not going to use a currency where you have to track down an underground website thats constantly being changed in order to buy groceries.

  • Re:Confused (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 30, 2013 @06:05PM (#43321053)

    You might think bitcoin is impossible to control, but you're misinformed. The immediate rollback from 0.8 proves that all it requires is the large mining pools to reach a decision behind closed doors, and they'll implement whatever modified protocol they desire. The problem with such power being in the hands of the pools and large miners means all the government has to do is change them minds of 10 people, and they'll introduce whatever tracking/anti-laundering controls they desire right at the point of exchange.

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @06:21PM (#43321165)

    One (or more than one) of the editors/staff is in to it and thus they push it here. Bitcoin is only valuable so long as people keep giving a shit and buying in to it. If suddenly everyone ignored it, the value would drop to zero. It has no national economy behind it, there are no taxes you can pay with it, there is no reason to hold it unless you are playing the bubble game with it. So those in Bitcoins need it to keep getting hype.

  • Re:Bored (Score:2, Insightful)

    by prisoner-of-enigma (535770) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @06:35PM (#43321223) Homepage

    In fairness to /., bitcoin value has risen dramatically in the last few weeks, so the attention isn't entirely unwarranted.

  • Wrong Question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Saturday March 30, 2013 @07:32PM (#43321473) Homepage Journal

    Clearly everybody involved with Bitcoin does not want to be regulated - if they did it would have been designed differently.

    So the actual question here is, "should an unregulated currency be allowed to exist?" Or, without the euphemisms and passive voice, "should we bust the heads of people who use an unregulated digital currency?"

  • Re:Bored (Score:4, Insightful)

    by khallow (566160) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @08:26PM (#43321745)
    How many Linden dollars is a bitcoin worth?
  • by luther349 (645380) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @08:39PM (#43321821)
    being its so hard to track it would not change anything. evading what tax in most states there is no tax with online transactions. this is more the government trying get there hand in the cookie jar because the value has gone up.
  • Re:You Can Try (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Saturday March 30, 2013 @09:34PM (#43322061) Journal

    Only the US government is permitted to create currency

    Nope.

    The constitution prohibits the states from making a legal tender of anything other than gold or silver. It also authorizes the federal government to issue coinage. It has no prohibition at all on private parties making coinage or scrip.

    -jcr

  • Re:Confused (Score:5, Insightful)

    by khchung (462899) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @10:16PM (#43322211) Journal

    How can your regulate something that you do not or can not control?

    So many posters here like to lament that lots of so-called "inventions" and patents are simply real world concepts with "on the internet" attached to it, so those should not be an invention nor should it be treated differently than their real life counterpart. E.g. selling songs on the Internet should be no different from selling songs on CD, i.e. you should be able to resell or lend it.

    Yet when it comes to Bitcoin, which is practically "money ... on the Internet!", all common sense got thrown out of the window.

    Cannot control? How can the government control the movements of small sheets of paper (i.e. cash)? Yet cash movement is still regulated. Same with small pieces of metal (i.e. gold, platinum, silver), or small bits of crystal (i.e. diamonds). Heck, even export of mathematical algorithms (encryption), information (movies, songs, classified documents) have been regulated in the past.

    The real world is not WoW, the authorities can and do have laws in effect without first needing the ability to make that law impossible to break in the world. The law is not a game, you won't get away with something simply because the physical world do not prevent you from doing it like you do with using aimbots and cheats.

    Bitcoin ARE already regulated just as everything of value is regulated. i.e. You can certainly _try_ to take a bag of diamond across border, and you will very likely succeed, though if you got caught, you will face harsh penalties. Similarly, you can certainly go ahead to transfer a large amounts of Bitcoins across borders, and you will most likely succeed without getting caught. But IF some law enforcement decided to target you, that transfer will be something they can get you punished for.

  • by czth (454384) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @10:59PM (#43322327) Homepage
    Translating "Should Bitcoin Be Regulated?" into its plain meaning, that is, "Should peaceful Bitcoin users be threatened with harm, or harmed?" should yield the answer almost immediately: of course not, any more than any other peaceful people should be harmed, whether they want to sell or consume "large" sodas, trade or manufacture "high" (standard) capacity firearm magazines, use drugs, give food to the hungry, or engage in any other pursuit that is not directly harmful to other people or property. How can it ever be right to so threaten and harm peaceful individuals? And is not all regulation such a threat - give us money or we will harm you (take the money by force, cage you, murder you if you resist); conform to our requirements, even though you do no harm, or we will harm you? There is no case where such harm is justified.
  • By whom? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jandersen (462034) on Sunday March 31, 2013 @03:39AM (#43322961)

    Bitcoin is already regulated by somebody, so it is only a question of who gets to write the rules. It's a bit like PayPal - they do all the things a bank does, but they escape bank regulations by not calling themselves a bank - I don't think I need to reiterate all the complaints against PayPal, so I won't, but they are getting away with these things because they don't follow the normal banking rules.

    The reason we have laws and standards regulating the handling and production of money is to protect society, ie mostly ordinary people. And the reason the rules have to be written by the legislature is that self-regulation never works in favour of people, it only works for the said industry. At least the government has to consider all the industries, and who knows, maybe even the people sometimes.

    As far as I can see, somewhere behind Bitcoin there's a group of people who are making a profit from it, and whose profit would be diminished by having to follow rules meant to protect the ordinary user. I haven't been able to find out who they are; IMO, you should never trust a business who doesn't want to look you in the eye. There is nothing wrong with wanting to make money out of something, so why hide behind anonymity? It is certainly not because they are saintly idealists who only want the best for you. Remember the old saying: "If it's too good to be true ..."

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." -- Albert Einstein

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