Sometimes you have to fight for your rights. No one knows this better than the Beastie Boys. The 1986 release of ‘You Gotta Fight for Your Right to Party’ on the now legendary ‘Licensed to Ill’ album has become something of an anthem for teenagers over several generations. Originally intended to be a ‘goof’ on the partying crowd, the song quickly took on new meaning and was being shouted all over the US and abroad by drunken teenagers. While Bitcoin has the reputation of the drunken teenager in the currency world, the recent Bitcoin Foundation letter to the Department of Justice has nevertheless begun to fight for the rights of Bitcoin investors.
The Bitcoin Foundation letter to the DOJ was sent August 31st with the subject S. 1241 “Combatting Money Laundering.” The document specifically calls for the removal of the inclusion of ‘digital currencies’ from the section of the Senate Bill that pertains to the use of digital currency being used for money laundering purposes.
The Bitcoin Foundation letter states that “…the Foundation wishes to express its strong and unequivocal opposition to a specific section of a bill titled “Combating Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Counterfeiting Act of 2017, Section 13, to the extent it includes “digital currencies” for the purposes of Title 31 of the U.S. Code, dealing with “Records and Reports on Monetary Instruments Transactions.” Second, we request that the United States Committee on the Judiciary formally investigates, whether directly or through the U.S. Government Accountability office (GAO), the U.S. Department of Justice’s policy of prosecuting individuals who exchange bitcoin for cash or other financial instruments under the federal money transmitting statue, 18 U.S.C. Section 1960.”
Effectively, the Bitcoin Foundation letter is requesting that the GAO investigate the DOJ’s prosecution of those who exchange bitcoin for cash. While this may seem far-fetched, the DOJ has a history of arresting those participating in bitcoin transactions if those transactions have some level of risk of money laundering or take place on an unlicensed exchange. The difficulty for exchanges, however, is the lack of clarity form the US Judiciary regarding what is needed to have a license, and to what extent non-licensed exchanges are able to conduct business in the U.S.
With all the confusion, and the clear down cry of bitcoin as a tool for money laundering, the Bitcoin Foundation letter is a strong response and request for intervention in the government position. While SilkRoad and AlphaBay were both examples of illicit transactions using bitcoin, recent studies have shown that terrorists do not favor the cryptocurrency over paper notes. Indeed, it simply appears that bitcoin enthusiasts must fight to keep the party going, and this Bitcoin Foundation letter is the first step in that process.
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