California Fires Opening Shot Against Bitcoin, Threatens Felony Charges
June 24, 2013 3:53 PM
comment(s) - last by
State and federal authorities wage indirect war against cryptocurrency
the Bitcoin Foundation
-- the organization charged with promoting
the popular cryptocurrency
-- was deciding where to hold its May "
Future of Payments
" conference, it decided California seemed a natural pick. After all, the state was often known for its
and it was home to
much of America's high-tech leadership
But according to
, Californian authorities have seized the conference -- held in San Jose -- as an opportunity to come down hard on the cryptocurrency.
California's Department of Financial Institutions
sent a cease-and-desist letter for "allegedly engaging in the business of money transmission without a license or proper authorization."
CA State Cease and Desist May 30
How exactly Bitcoin ran afoul of this provision -- which is covered under federal Money Laundering Act of 1996 (
31 USC § 5330
) -- is unclear. The law states:
Any person who owns or controls a money transmitting business shall register the business (whether or not the business is licensed as a money transmitting business in any State) with the Secretary of the Treasury....
Two "speakers" engage the audience at the Future of Payments conference.
It's possible this all has to do with the
world's largest Bitcoin exchange
-- Mt. Gox -- whose partner Mutum Sigillum
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
investigation, for failing to register (under the aforementioned provisions) as a money exchanger with the
U.S. Department of Treasury
. Mutum Sigillum was operating its exchange business out of a
account (which was housed in Dwolla's financial institution partner, Veridian Credit Union), according the seizure warrant.
The issue is a serious one for Mt. Gox. If the exchange loses its American partner, it will be left without a direct route to exchange U.S. dollars to Bitcoins. And as foreign governments engage in similar crackdowns, the routes to funnel real world currency into Bitcoin dwindle.
Back to the California crackdown, the Bitcoin Foundation's leaders should already have responded to the May 30 letter, under its 20 day response period. Failure to respond can result in fines between $1,000 USD and $2,500 USD per day, plus potential prison time.
It's unclear what actions (if any) they took, but Jon Matonis, a member of the Bitcoin Foundation's Board of Directors, wrote in a commentary in
One activity that the foundation does not engage in is the owning, controlling, or conducting of money transmission business. Furthermore, that activity would also be against the original charter of the foundation. As general counsel for the Bitcoin Foundation, Patrick Murck has lead responsibility for corresponding with the California Department of Financial Institutions.
At this stage, it’s difficult to tell whether or not it was a general blanket action and if other bitcoin-related entities received cease and desist letters from California. If Bitcoin Foundation was not the only recipient, then expect other companies to come forward in the days and weeks ahead.
Federal and state governments have a couple reasons to crack down on Bitcoins. While the digital currency is not fully anonymous (due in part to loss of anonymity when spending) and formally should be taxed, it's harder in practice to track than standard currency, making it
somewhat safer to dodge taxes
or buy illegal goods. Second, Bitcoin is
outside the realm of nation-states' fiscal policy control
, hence it interferes with trade barriers and other instruments that a nation-state might wish to enact.
So far the U.S. has not passed any laws that would
make Bitcoins or other digital currencies
. But as use grows, don't be surprised to see efforts to put a more direct ban in place pop up.
Californian State Gov't [via Scribd]
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
California Department of Financial Institutions
6/24/2013 4:14:54 PM
That is yet another pitiful waste of state taxpayer funds. How many frickin 6 figure pensions does this department ladle into the pig trough ?
RE: California Department of Financial Institutions
6/25/2013 4:48:04 PM
I have to agree there.
Normally I am one to favor state's rights over federal power but the constitution clearly gives the federal government the power to regulate and print money, therefore the state should not be wasting money funding a department to do what the federal government should be doing anyway.
"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan
IRS, Obama Admin Aim to Kill Liberty Reserve With $6B USD Suit
May 30, 2013, 10:16 AM
Canada to Bitcoin Miners: "Pay Yer Taxes"
April 29, 2013, 10:52 AM
Samsung Aims to One-Up Apple's "Spaceship" With $300M USD "Green" Campus
February 27, 2013, 7:01 PM
Second Bitcoin Hack Highlights Challenges, Resilience of Anarchic E-Currency
September 25, 2012, 8:02 PM
California Board Approves 15.4% of New Autos Sold to Be "Green" by 2025
January 30, 2012, 10:31 AM
Quick Note: Former Googler Becomes Director of U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
December 12, 2013, 10:42 AM
AT&T Launches U-verse with GigaPower Network in Austin, Texas
December 11, 2013, 5:14 PM
Harlem to Receive U.S.' Largest Free Wi-Fi Network
December 11, 2013, 11:48 AM
Google's First Asian Data Centers Now Operational
December 11, 2013, 8:50 AM
Seattle's High-Speed Internet Rollout Delayed Due to Financial Issues
December 10, 2013, 12:14 PM
Report: Spotify Working on Free, Ad-Supported Mobile Service
December 6, 2013, 9:52 AM
Most Popular Articles
Experts: Masturbation Prevents Cancer, Diabetes, Insomnia, and Depression
December 6, 2013, 2:01 PM
Hackers Nab 2 Million Login Credentials from Facebook, Gmail, Twitter
December 5, 2013, 1:00 PM
Thieves Steal Truck with Cobalt-60 Onboard in Mexico, Will Die "Without a Doubt" from Exposure
December 5, 2013, 12:04 PM
Report: Windows 8.2 Revives Start Menu, Runs Metro Apps in Desktop Mode
December 10, 2013, 2:56 PM
U.S. Navy Fires "XFC" Drone from Underwater Submarine
December 6, 2013, 2:35 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Justice Leaks Details of Next HTC One Two Flagship Phone
Dec 5, 2013, 4:04 PM
Global Cyber Espionage Concerns Reveal Growing Cyber Armies
Nov 29, 2013, 11:04 AM
Is The Period Becoming an Expression of Anger?
Nov 26, 2013, 2:02 PM
NSA and Congress -- You Will Never Kill the Constitution, It's an Idea
Nov 10, 2013, 2:00 PM
AT&T Explores $100B+ USD Deal to Acquire Vodafone's European Operations
Nov 4, 2013, 7:34 AM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2013 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information