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New York's Financial Regulator Subpoenas Bitcoin Companies

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the party's-over-folks dept.

Bitcoin 259

dreamstateseven writes "Things are getting serious for Bitcoin this month: a federal judge declared it real money, Bloomberg gave it an experimental ticker, Thailand declared it illegal, and now New York's financial regulator announced an interest in regulating it. The department is starting out by subpoenaing 22 digital-currency companies and investors to get a lay of the Bitcoin land. They sent letters to the major Bitcoin players asking them to hand over information regarding their money laundering controls, consumer protection practices, source of funding, pitch books (for Bitcoin start-ups) and investment strategies (for Bitcoin investors). Keep in mind, a subpoena doesn't mean criminal activity has taken place."

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Your papers, comrade! (1, Insightful)

Entrope (68843) | about a year ago | (#44561433)

... although I have to admit that New Yorkers pretty much keep asking for that level of government meddling in their lives.

Re:Your papers, comrade! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44561485)

At least they have a hobby.

Re:Your papers, comrade! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44561551)

... although I have to admit that New Yorkers pretty much keep asking for that level of government meddling in their lives.

What a bunch of niggers!

Re:Your papers, comrade! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44562433)

This. Would mod up if I wasn't AC.

So were you also one who bitched about Wall Street (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about a year ago | (#44561785)

or the banks? Because you can't have it both ways: Either the government regulates money for various reasons (crime, abuse, economic stability) or it doesn't. You can't have a situation where the nifty "hacker" currency that you like is exempt for all regs and you can do what the fuck ever with it, but traditional monetary instruments are regulated to try and stop shit like what happened in 2008 (in no small part because of the repeal of many regulations).

So you have to decide how you feel about government regulation of the economy, currency, investments, etc, and then be consistent with it. Reason isn't just to not be a hypocrite (though that is a good one) but because if instruments and investments denominated in dollars are regulated but ones in Bitcoins are not, well guess what all the Wall Street scum will do? That's right, use Bitcoins.

Re:So were you also one who bitched about Wall Str (5, Insightful)

niftydude (1745144) | about a year ago | (#44561887)

or the banks? Because you can't have it both ways: Either the government regulates money for various reasons (crime, abuse, economic stability) or it doesn't.

This is a false equivalency. The US government is allowed to regulate it's own money - that is - the sovereign currency that it issues. Bitcoins aren't defined or issued by the US government, so it has as much right to regulate Bitcoins as it has to regulate the Euro.

but because if instruments and investments denominated in dollars are regulated but ones in Bitcoins are not, well guess what all the Wall Street scum will do? That's right, use Bitcoins.

Crime is still crime, and theft is still theft. You don't need specific government regulations on marshmallows to make stealing them illegal, the same goes for Bitcoins. But here it is you who is trying to have it both ways: you are asking us to trust the government to regulate money and the "Wall Street scum", when that same government hasn't prosecuted anyone for the theft of billions that led to the financial crisis.

Whilst the right regulations would likely have stopped the financial crisis, the government doesn't need those regulations now to prosecute the people who caused the financial crisis because the obvious theft is still obvious theft. Think of regulations like a safe: stealing the money is still illegal whether it is locked up in a safe or not. Regulations would be welcome, but the problem we have is that the government has somehow chosen not to prosecute any bankers.

Re:So were you also one who bitched about Wall Str (5, Informative)

DerekLyons (302214) | about a year ago | (#44562081)

This is a false equivalency. The US government is allowed to regulate it's own money - that is - the sovereign currency that it issues. Bitcoins aren't defined or issued by the US government, so it has as much right to regulate Bitcoins as it has to regulate the Euro.

This is utter nonsense - the US government is allowed to regulate anyone conducting financial transactions within the US. As I've said before, they don't care what those transactions are reckoned in - dollars, Bitcoins, or jars of hamster poop. The same rules apply to all of them.
 

You don't need specific government regulations on marshmallows to make stealing them illegal, the same goes for Bitcoins.

Yep, you're right - all they need to do is ensure that Bitcoins follow the same rules as anyone else. Which is exactly what they're trying to do.

Re:So were you also one who bitched about Wall Str (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44562385)

To be perfectly clear: the government can regulate uses of Bitcoin within it's jurisdiction. It cannot regulate Bitcoin proper.

Re:So were you also one who bitched about Wall Str (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44562429)

The GP has a point. There's a self-consistent position which holds that the US should regulate its own currency, but not anyone else's currency. Someone holding that position would be in favour of the sort of regulation that would have prevented the recent unpleasantness on Wall Street, but against the government's current crackdown on Bitcoin, and they would be perfectly consistent in this.

Re:So were you also one who bitched about Wall Str (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44562439)

Just wait 'till they get a load of other virtual currencies, like the Lindon Dollar, the WoW Gold, or Plex...

You can exchange USD between online game currency. Bitcoin is just WoW without the "wow". Regulate that. I fucking dare them. Some hornets nests are better left alone. So, If I make a Tetromino dropping game wrapper around it, then it's a different story that if I don't.... Right, because wasting time and resources to generate loot is so different than mining bitcoin.

Protip: We didn't used to have a country wide currency run by the Fed. The thing is, if one entity controls the currency then they basically own your sole, it's corrupt. That's why getting payed in credits for the company store is so damn heinous. Same goes for USD. Here's something interesting: I don't need to transfer BTC into any other currency to use it in trade for goods and services. Think about that in relation to other virtual currencies: "Hey, I'll give you this sick gear in-game if you paint my house." What's the difference between that and, "Hey, I'll wash your car for a year if you paint my house." Just because someone claims authority to something, doesn't mean they actually have it.

Regulators? We regulate any stealing of virtual property. We're damn good too. But you be any geek off wallstreet; Gotta be handy with the terminal if you know what I mean -- Earn your keep.
Regulators! Mount Up. [youtube.com]

Re:So were you also one who bitched about Wall Str (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44562575)

Where can I get me some booze and hookers for Plex? How do I pay my rent with WoW gold? What's the going rate for Facebook tokens -> USD conversion? How deep is your head up your ass if you don't see the difference between WoW gold and Bitcoin? What does it say about BtC proponents when even they think that Bitcoin is glorified WoW gold? Why would the Fed want the bottom of your shoes [wiktionary.org] ?

Contemplate that.

Re:So were you also one who bitched about Wall Str (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44563051)

Protip: Anyone using the term "Protip" is a cunt.

Re:So were you also one who bitched about Wall Str (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44562453)

OP is a fag.

Re:So were you also one who bitched about Wall Str (1)

niftydude (1745144) | about a year ago | (#44562521)

This is utter nonsense - the US government is allowed to regulate anyone conducting financial transactions within the US. As I've said before, they don't care what those transactions are reckoned in - dollars, Bitcoins, or jars of hamster poop. The same rules apply to all of them.

If you say so, I'll believe you, I admittedly don't know the rules for financial exchanges in foreign currency for the US in any detail. In Australia, only transactions in AU dollars are regulated by the government - most foreign exchange transactions are not regulated (the exception being the retail cash exchange outlets - so that travellers don't get ripped off).

But what you say doesn't change my position - that governments shouldn't be regulating transactions which don't involve their sovereign currency in any way. The fact that my views align with the laws of the country I currently am living in is just a happy coincidence.

Re:So were you also one who bitched about Wall Str (1, Offtopic)

TrentTheThief (118302) | about a year ago | (#44562619)

Exactly which rules are you blather on about?

The ones that required billions of dollars in interest-free loans and caused thousands of people to lose their homes while the bankers involved kicked back counting their million dollar bonuses?

Re:So were you also one who bitched about Wall Str (2)

antant007 (1702214) | about a year ago | (#44562279)

This is a false equivalency. The US government is allowed to regulate it's own money - that is - the sovereign currency that it issues. Bitcoins aren't defined or issued by the US government, so it has as much right to regulate Bitcoins as it has to regulate the Euro.

I believe your argument is flawed here, the US Government does regulate banks trading in the Euro if they reside in the United States. The fact they they are conducting business in the US gives them the right to do so.

Re:So were you also one who bitched about Wall Str (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | about a year ago | (#44562319)

or the banks? Because you can't have it both ways: Either the government regulates money for various reasons (crime, abuse, economic stability) or it doesn't.

This is a false equivalency. The US government is allowed to regulate it's own money - that is - the sovereign currency that it issues. Bitcoins aren't defined or issued by the US government, so it has as much right to regulate Bitcoins as it has to regulate the Euro.

If that's right, with what justification is the SEC already regulating financial instruments issued by banks and not the US gouvernment?

Various derivatives aren't defined ir issued by the US gouvernment either, but still regulated.

And please not that "regulating the Bitcoin" is still something different to "regulating financial transactions". The latter ones are just what they are: transactions, independant of the denominated currency.

Re:So were you also one who bitched about Wall Str (1)

niftydude (1745144) | about a year ago | (#44562471)

If that's right, with what justification is the SEC already regulating financial instruments issued by banks and not the US gouvernment?

The SEC exists to prevent corporations messing with their own share prices by cooking the books or insider trading. All those other derivatives that the SEC watches are an extension to this. It is to theoretically allow an even playing field on the stock market.

Obviously this doesn't apply to Bitcoin, since the intrinsic value of Bitcoins don't relate to the operation of an individual corporation. Additionally - Bitcoin is designed to be so independent that price fixing can't really occur - hence no need for the SEC.

Re:So were you also one who bitched about Wall Str (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44562555)

This is a false equivalency. The US government is allowed to regulate it's own money - that is - the sovereign currency that it issues. Bitcoins aren't defined or issued by the US government, so it has as much right to regulate Bitcoins as it has to regulate the Euro.

This is retarded even by Slashdot standards. Using your logic, if I carried out a fraud in Europe in Euros, the EU is allowed to stop/punish it, but if I carried out a fraud in Europe in US dollars, they aren't.

Re:So were you also one who bitched about Wall Str (1)

niftydude (1745144) | about a year ago | (#44562615)

This is a false equivalency. The US government is allowed to regulate it's own money - that is - the sovereign currency that it issues. Bitcoins aren't defined or issued by the US government, so it has as much right to regulate Bitcoins as it has to regulate the Euro.

This is retarded even by Slashdot standards. Using your logic, if I carried out a fraud in Europe in Euros, the EU is allowed to stop/punish it, but if I carried out a fraud in Europe in US dollars, they aren't.

Nope - in the part of my post that you didn't quote, I specifically said that crime would be the same if it was done in Bitcoins or marshmallows. That covers your example, and we don't need any new laws to deal with that situation.

What the conversation is about is whether a new regulatory framework needs to be set up to deal with Bitcoin. My belief is no, for the reasons I've already given.

Re:So were you also one who bitched about Wall Str (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44561905)

This is not regulating bitcoin. It's regulating financial institutions that handle bitcoin.

I have no problem with that. It's the best thing that could happen to encourage the bitcoin economy.

great point. regulate currency traders or not? (4, Insightful)

raymorris (2726007) | about a year ago | (#44561915)

You make a great point. It's a simple question:

Do you want financial institutions such as banks and currency traders to be thoroughly regulated?
I'm betting many here would say "yes". "I mean yes, if it's a USD bank. Not if a Bitcoin bank or trader." "Let me rephrase, regulate traders who trade in dollars, euros, pesos and yen, but not in bitcoin".

What about the ones who trade in dollars, euros, yen AND bitcoin? Do you want Obama to come down hard on them?

The cognitive dissonance is thick in here .

Bitcoin exchanges do PRECISELY the same things that the "evil" Wall Street firms do. (Most of Wall St. is simply your mom's retirement savings being put to use building stores and such to earn her enough to retire.)

* autocorrect corrected "bitcoin" to "buffoon". Does the machine know something?
    It also showed "virgin" as a possible correction for "bitcoin".

Re:great point. regulate currency traders or not? (2)

Lennie (16154) | about a year ago | (#44562513)

I think there would actually be an advantage to having both regulated currencies and an unregulated currency.

But judging by this, they don't seem to think the same way.

Re:great point. regulate currency traders or not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44563011)

"They sent letters to the major Bitcoin players asking them to hand over information regarding their money laundering controls, consumer protection practices, source of funding, pitch books (for Bitcoin start-ups) and investment strategies (for Bitcoin investors)."

For anyone who competers with Bitcoin, this information would be a wet dream. That means mostly banks. Chance of this information not getting in their corrupt hands: 0%.

Re:So were you also one who bitched about Wall Str (2)

greenbird (859670) | about a year ago | (#44562163)

but traditional monetary instruments are regulated to try and stop shit like what happened in 2008 (in no small part because of the repeal of many regulations).

Man did you ever drink the kool-aid. What happened in 2008 was caused by wholesale looting and fraud that makes Enron look like a street corner game of three card monte. It makes no difference what or how many regulations there are if the regulators are in bed with the regulatees. If the regulators cause trouble they won't get their cushy 7 figure jobs with the companies they're supposed to be regulating after suffering through their 2 years of government service.

Re:So were you also one who bitched about Wall Str (1, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year ago | (#44562515)

Nobody stole anything, they simply stopped trusting the quality of each other's financial instruments . There is no evil hoard of bankers sitting atop a mountain of cash, the money simply evaporated because without trust, financial instruments are basically worthless.

Re: So were you also one who bitched about Wall St (1, Insightful)

jxander (2605655) | about a year ago | (#44562271)

Problem is, we already have it both ways. Big banks and Wall Street types are free to do whatever the fuck they want with money. And if they blow it all on hookers and coke, the government will just print more for them.

. Meanwhile, any joe trying to make what basically amounts to Gold Coins in an MMO will get subpoenaed deemed illegal in some countries, and otherwise harassed.

Re:So were you also one who bitched about Wall Str (0)

ron_ivi (607351) | about a year ago | (#44562315)

I just hope they hold World of Warcraft gold to the same standard.

Like bitcoins:

  • people exchange USD with WoW Gold
  • people spend many man-hours earning WoW Gold
  • people invest USD for the opportunity to earn WoW Gold.

It's probably a bigger market than BitCoins - so perhaps they should go after that market first.

Re:So were you also one who bitched about Wall Str (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44562353)

It's not like bitcoin is an American currency, so why would they get to regulate it?

Re:So were you also one who bitched about Wall Str (1)

Entrope (68843) | about a year ago | (#44562833)

No, I wasn't one who bitched about Wall Street or the banks. Thanks for making an ass out of yourself by assuming, though!

Re:So were you also one who bitched about Wall Str (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44562999)

Sure you can. You can absolutely have it both ways, but it needs to start with an understanding of the situation. Bitcoin is designed, among other things, to bring some of the properties of cash to electronic transactions. Cash is as secure as you choose to make it. It is, given the medium, somewhat secure against unauthorized duplication, as it should be. It is more or less anonymous absent some extraordinary means being taken to track it. It doesn't leave a permanent record of everything you've ever spent it on.

Those last two things are not desired by today's tyranical control freak governments. It's not that there should be no regulation of financial transactions--it's that the regulations should benefit people, not harass them. The response of governments, especially in the US, to people who choose to do business in cash is to harass them, steal their assets (see "civil asset forfeiture", a thoroughly unconstitutional concept) and generally try to make life miserable for them. That is the same response they have to Bitcoin. So in that regard, you might say that Bitcoin has been a total success in coming very close to replicating the properties of cash. Those properties include of course "get harassed by law enforcement when you use it too much".

As to crap like "money laundering controls", well, money laundering means a lot of things, some of them not so good, but these days of course the defintion has been twisted to mean "do anything with cash we don't like". Of course, this mostly has to do with the idiotic War on Drugs (tm) that is so highly profitable to governments and corporations everywhere at the cost of basic human freedoms and dignity to so many.

Absolutely none of this would have helped with the financial crisis, of course, because the people who aren't being properly regulated are the crony capitalists who brought down the US and other economies through their greed, avarice, disregard for common sense and common decency, and general and through corruption. You go right ahead, though, and lump things like Bitcoin in the same realm as that kind of slime and feel good about yourself, ok? Meanwhile, in the real world, some people would just like to buy stuff and conduct business without somebody building a database out of it.

You'd think I was a big Bitcoin user, btw. Never once. I just know that freedom has been under assault under the guise of bringing bad people to justice, and yet the only people who ever seem to get brought to "justice" aren't the ones who do things that are the most harmful. Minor drug offense? Prison for most of the best part of your life. Crash an economy, break up families, put literally millions out of work--the regulators will be happy to meet you for drinks at the country club after work on Friday. Don't ever let things like Bitcoin be mixed in with the likes of Wall Street. It's insulting.

The interest of financial regulators should be to make sure nobody gets ripped off--that currency can't be easily duplicated, that its value isn't artificially manipulated, etc. If those were their goals, great. However, those are not their goals, at least not the only ones. Never forget that.

Cry me a river. (0)

westlake (615356) | about a year ago | (#44561995)

... although I have to admit that New Yorkers pretty much keep asking for that level of government meddling in their lives.

New York is a global financial center, arguably the global financial center --- and when things go wrong here all hell breaks loose.

The economy of New York City is the biggest regional economy in the United States and the second largest city economy in the world after Tokyo. Anchored by Wall Street, in Lower Manhattan, New York City is one of the world's two premier financial centers, alongside London and is home to the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ, the world's largest stock exchanges by market capitalization and trading activity. New York is distinctive for its high concentrations of advanced service sector firms in fields such as law, accountancy, banking and management consultancy.

The New York metropolitan area had an estimated gross metropolitan product of $1.28 trillion in 2010. The city's economy accounts for the majority of the economic activity in the states of New York and New Jersey.

Manhattan is home to six major stock, commodities and futures exchanges: American Stock Exchange, International Securities Exchange, NASDAQ, New York Board of Trade, New York Mercantile Exchange, and New York Stock Exchange. This contributes to New York City being a major financial service exporter, both within the United States and globally.

In 2003, Fedwire, the Federal Reserve's system for transferring balances between it and other banks, transferred $1.8 trillion a day in funds, of which about $1.1 trillion originated in the Second District. It transferred an additional $1.3 trillion a day in securities, of which $1.2 trillion originated in the Second District.

Economy of New York City [wikipedia.org]

Fun fact:

The Google building, 111 Eighth Avenue is the property with the highest-listed market value in the city, at $1.9 billion, The building, which has been owned by Google since 2010, is one of the largest technology-owned office buildings in the world --- exceeding all of the combined buildings at Google's Googleplex headquarters in California. It is also larger than Apple Inc.'s new circular "spaceship" (2,800,000 square feet (260,000 m2)) headquarters being built in Cupertino, California.

Re:Your papers, comrade! (1)

johanw (1001493) | about a year ago | (#44562733)

Subphoena's are something typical for US law. In The Netherlands, the police can come search for evidence but I'm not required to give them anything and if they can't find it it's bad for them. Not giving information voluntarily is not a crime here.

Re:Your papers, comrade! (1)

Entrope (68843) | about a year ago | (#44562861)

In the US, police usually don't use subpoenas -- they use warrants instead, and a person has a Fifth Amendment right against being compelled to provide information in a criminal trial (which is where the police are usually involved). Subpoenas are an artifact of civil trials and regulatory actions that require someone to provide the requested evidence, and the Fifth Amendment still applies. Is there no way in the Netherlands for a regulator to compel (force) a company to turn over documents or other information that are relevant to the regulator's mission?

Legalised racketeering (1, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#44561441)

Nice business idea you have got there, it would be a shame if something bad would all of a sudden happened to it, out of the blue.

The government Mafia wants its piece of the pie, so there will be regulations threatened, there will be actual regulations, the regulations will establish the monopolies that will be allowed to participate in this new business idea, the rest will be locked out and the remaining monopolies (oligopolies if you like) will pay their dues to the Mafia bosses.

nowadays (-1)

slackware 3.6 (2524328) | about a year ago | (#44561455)

Federal judge just means douche bag working for special interest groups or a government worried they haven't squeezed every last cent out of taxpayers yet.

Re:nowadays (5, Insightful)

sg_oneill (159032) | about a year ago | (#44561487)

Oh come on, this is the sort of conspiracy thinking that has lead to Bitcoin being a perpetual source of amusement to the less tinfoil inclined.

Its a federal courts simply following procedure now that Bitcoin has been declared a currency. If its a currency there are legislative requirements, and the courts are just ensuring that the Bitcoin brigade are following that legislation.

Considering bitcoins history of being an enabler of all sorts of messed up scams, bitcoin users should be celebrating this. The fed is getting involved and thats [i]a good thing[/i] to non paranoid schizophrenics.

Re:nowadays (4, Funny)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about a year ago | (#44561613)

I don't use (or care about) bitcoins; but if I had a choice, I'd rather deal with crooks than 'the government'.

one will rob me and then leave. the other will rob me and keep robbing me.

Re:nowadays (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#44561687)

So which heading do you use for organized crime and antivirus vendors?

Re:nowadays (1)

Deluvianvortex (2908365) | about a year ago | (#44561805)

one will break your legs to repay a debt. One will just make you a little poorer.

Re:nowadays (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44561937)

The exercise left to the reader is to determine which one is which?

Re:nowadays (2, Interesting)

philip.paradis (2580427) | about a year ago | (#44561619)

Currencies don't enable scams. People enable and perpetrate scams. By your definition, the United States dollar has an incredibly long history of being the currency of choice for massively greater widespread scams and atrocities. What we're seeing here is nothing more than the preparatory work required to execute a good old fashioned regulation, taxation, restriction, and asphyxiation power grab. Governments get pretty pissed off when private entities engage in commerce of any kind outside of government control.

Have you ever held a garage sale? Did you make sure to report every penny of your earnings to the IRS?

Re:nowadays (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44561695)

While your point is valid your not required to report income (or at least you won't be taxed on it) from a garage sale to the IRS unless your making profit off it like a business does. IE selling used goods you bought for less than you paid vs buying goods in bulk wholesale and then selling them at a markup and making profit off it.

Actually yes you are, and additionally... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44561801)

If you're wanting to get a break on recorded income you have to figure out depreciation on every single item if you want a tax break (since even selling it at the same price you bought it may be considered a profit since it's value has depreciated.) Not sure if there's rules for appreciation as well but I spent far too much time reading up on this in regards to Cali/Federal tax laws when working out taxes were I to sell my car.

Re:Actually yes you are, and additionally... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44561929)

That's why civilised countries have a sane tax regulation in this regard: don't do it business-like (which is described as doing it regularily and/or for-profit (instead of just to get rid of it) and/or earning too much (some thousand euros p.a.) and you don't have to pay taxes for it.
Short: don't overdo it and you are fine.
A garage sale when moving and of stuff that you bought the last years is OK, but don't buy stuff expecially for garage sale, do garage sales every other week or advertise as "Honest Joes Garage Sale Company".

Re:nowadays (2)

Ash-Fox (726320) | about a year ago | (#44562725)

Currencies don't enable scams.

Bitcoin appears to be making it easier for electronic scams to work with little risk. I can't think of 'normal' currency system that does electronic transfers 'anonymously' without any controls for reversing transactions when fraud, scams etc. were discovered.

Re:nowadays (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44561645)

I don't buy that...

What this causes in inflated costs for exchanges and there will probably be no real additional security of your coin should you keep it there. What we will see is a monopoly form similar to paypal today for internet transactions or the handful of credit processing companies (visa/master card/american express/and discover). While the currency will be traded like cash in the offline world the second you want to convert that money into USD for offline transactions you'll be heavily penalized. The reason companies can charge such a low rate right now is because there is no burdensome regulations. The regulations will cause so much burden the competition will be non-existent. There is already very little competition. Mtgox is proof of that.

Re:nowadays (2)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year ago | (#44561653)

Considering bitcoins history of being an enabler of all sorts of messed up scams, bitcoin users should be celebrating this.

You mean like legislation has somehow prevented cash from being used for a trillion times as much [whatever the bad stuff you figure bitcoin is being used for]?

Re:nowadays (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44561745)

So, you're saying that Slashdot is just interested in tax evasion then?

Re:nowadays (2, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#44561717)

Bitcoin has nothing on an established currency, like the US dollar, in the 'enabler of all sorts of messed up scams' department, the biggest one, of-course being the fact that the US government (through the Fed) conjures up the infamous USD out of thin air (or out of a computer adding program).

The USD is directly or indirectly responsible for the US economic catastrophe (the one that's coming and all the previous ones since 1917, when the Fed was allowed to monetise US Treasury debt by the Congress).

So saying that the government in fact must be allowed to regulate currency in order to prevent fraud and other 'messed up scams' and various activities that are less than crystal clear and honest, is at best extremely naive.

In reality of-course people decide what money is and before government comes up with a paper money scam, people saw precious metals as money. Precious metals are still money, though government sets all kinds of barriers to prevent people from using the metals as money by taxing, get this, 'capital appreciation' or taxing rising USD value of metals as income though in reality of-course, the amount of the metal that is in possession doesn't change over the time that it takes government to print yet another bajilion dollars.

Government fighting scams? Ha! You miss the entire point - government IS the scam.

Re:nowadays (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44562475)

Niggers are criminals. It's no suprise that now that we're being lead by Homie da Thug that he wants to steal. It's what those animals do. there must have been some evolutionary pressure on the apes that they "evolved" from that made them such worthless theives that wasn't there for the apes that other races evolved from.

Re:nowadays (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44562337)

Agreed. While I will expect US-based regulatory powers to go overboard, the legitimacy gained by this move will do much for Bitcoin's acceptance by ordinary people.

Libertarians are too quick to assume that using the currency anonymously will just become more difficult. If the userbase of Bitcoin continues to grow, the need to constantly convert between Bitcoins and fiat will eventually implode.

Finally, don't forget that New York is not the only state in the world.

Re:nowadays (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44561705)

OMFG... Bitcoin itself calls it 'a form of money'. Even if it wasn't currency in any way shape or freaking form... it would be bartering, which the IRS has had rules on the books since 1982.

http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Barter-Exchanges

You think you're the first one to think of tax evasion through not using USD? Karl Hess did it too...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Hess

You sound like just as much of an anarchist as him.

Re:nowadays (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44561947)

perfect example of buttcoiner right here folks

For the love of crypto (4, Informative)

Rinisari (521266) | about a year ago | (#44561457)

Thailand did not rule Bitcoin illegal. The head of the central bank of Thailand issued a preliminary ruling expressing that Bitcoin may be illegal because there are no laws that allow its use.

Think about that for a moment.

Read: http://qz.com/110164/thailands-infamous-bitcoin-crackdown-is-not-quite-what-it-seems/ [qz.com]

Re:For the love of crypto (2, Informative)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#44561471)

Think about that for a moment.

- yeah, it means that people are 100% slaves and they are only allowed to do what is 'legal' and everything else is deemed illegal to do.

It's amazing what you can do to a population and how rich and powerful you can be personally once they are only allowed to walk in lockstep on a predetermined path.

Re:For the love of crypto (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44561747)

Exactly. A Thai company took a gamble in order to try to get their activities legally sanctioned by the Thai government. Had they succeeded, Thailand would have been the first country to legalize Bitcoin, and their company would have had a huge commercial advantage.

It was a bad gamble with a predictable outcome - although the potential payoff was huge.

The entire premise that Thailand has "made Bitcoin illegal" is based upon one statement published on the website of a small Bitcoin exchange. Show me an official government statement. (don't bother, there isn't one)

Re:For the love of crypto (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44561975)

What's most curious to me is the idea of a legal system which defaults to a non-permissive state; the supposition is that a law would be needed to legalize something, or some activity.

Re:For the love of crypto (1)

Aighearach (97333) | about a year ago | (#44562383)

What is even more curious is that people would believe such an absurd thing about Thailand, based apparently on a press release given by a disgruntled businessperson, and where the Government representative has explained the ruling quite clearly in the press and it is nothing like the revolutionary nonsense given.

Re:For the love of crypto (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#44562181)

The head of the central bank of Thailand issued a preliminary ruling expressing that Bitcoin may be illegal because there are no laws that allow its use.

Well, many countries have laws dictating what can and cannot be used as currency. If Thailand is such a country (and I honestly couldn't tell you -- their laws aren't written in English), then any currency would have to be declared valid by the government before it could be used. Otherwise I could say that, say, volcanic rocks are a form of currency and could go on exchanging rocks with other people as if it were currency... which needless to say, wouldn't be a good thing. Now, bitcoin is considerably more resiliant to counterfeit than burned up rocks, but the legal theory is similar.

The head of the central bank, naturally, wants some resolution on this -- because their business involves currency conversion. It seems only reasonable that until a new currency can be vetted by an appropriate authority, banks default to not using it.

And all of this underscores that banking institutions around the world are considering joining the currency exchange market. This would be a very good thing for bitcoin users because it would prevent a lot of the instability in the price of bitcoins -- you can't DDoS Visa/Mastercard the same way you can with current bitcoin exchanges.

All that said... other governments can and should be suspicious of bitcoin for an entirely overlooked reason: The main algorithm it depends on is SHA-2. Guess who invented it: The NSA. And the organization has, in the past, found vulnerabilities (or created them!) in cryptographic algorithms, then released them to the public. To this day, the Enigma ciphering system used by the Germans during WWII is still available for commercial purchase and use. Think about that for a minute.

Now... if you're a government that is considering allowing its businesses (or itself!) to use this new currency... how much do you trust it? The SHA-2 algorithm could have a fatal flaw that has gone undetected that could allow the NSA to forge transactions, saturate the market with bitcoins, or do all kinds of nefarious things.

Below this comment, please find a large pile of pendants and self-described mathematicians telling you how unlikely this is, and ignoring the fact that governments don't give a flying fuck through a rolling doughnut about technical arguments... they do place a great value on reputation and the history of other persons and organizations however. It's politics 101; And no matter how many statistics the pendants will throw out... they can't erase the fact that politicians, not mathematicians and computer geeks, are the ones making the decision on whether or not to use a given technology. -_-

Let the flames begin.

Re:For the love of crypto (1)

fuzzybunny (112938) | about a year ago | (#44562281)

Otherwise I could say that, say, volcanic rocks are a form of currency and could go on exchanging rocks with other people as if it were currency... which needless to say, wouldn't be a good thing.

Out of curiosity, why not?

This is nothing more than barter.

Re:For the love of crypto (3, Informative)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#44562323)

What one person calls barter, another can call tax evasion.

Re:For the love of crypto (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44562531)

Bartering is not tax evasion. You still owe taxes on things you barter.

Re:For the love of crypto (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about a year ago | (#44562393)

And no matter how many statistics the pendants will throw out... they can't erase the fact that politicians, not mathematicians and computer geeks, are the ones making the decision on whether or not to use a given technology. -_-

How is this an argument about technology? It's an argument about the exchange of something deemed valuable, just so happen in this case technology is being used. The government can no more decide if I can swap bitcoins for USD than they can decide if I can trade a baseball card for a case of beer.

Re:For the love of crypto (2)

Aighearach (97333) | about a year ago | (#44562413)

You can use any currency you like in Thailand, including barter. They do not care. And things are, by default, legal in Thailand; same as everywhere else. Very much the opposite of everything being illegal... the reality is you might be surprised how much is not illegal!

What is illegal is to run a currency exchange without a license. And getting a license requires the government to know WTF you're doing. That is part of having and managing a currency. And what they ruled is illegal, for now, is to run a business exchanging bitcoin for Thai Bhat. Because they have not studied the possibility for this to be abused for currency speculation. They don't want somebody like Soros to find a flaw in the math and game a trillion Bhat out of their economy. And obviously they need some sort of a careful study before they decide.

We're talking about the only country in SE Asia to avoid European colonization. They're not going to go all, "Ooooooh, shiny" over freakin' bitcoin and forget to safeguard their currency. That said, they do not care, legally or otherwise, if you convince a cab driver to accept bitcoin or IOUs or Zimbabwe Dollars.

Re:For the love of crypto (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44562449)

Below this comment, please find a large pile of pendants

What sorts of pendants? What happens if you spin them around?

no matter how many statistics the pendants will throw out..

Nice! Are the statistics all sparkly? Sparkly would be cool. If the pendants keep twirling do more and more stats shoot out?

Oh, pundits! Never mind.

Re:For the love of crypto (3, Informative)

Aighearach (97333) | about a year ago | (#44562363)

And even there you're over-stating it. They ruled that it may be illegal to run a bitcoin exchange in Thailand, because currency exchanges have to be licensed, and they can only be licensed for currencies that the Government has approved (eg, all normal currencies)

Simply using bitcoin in Thailand is totally legal. Things without a law are not banned in Thailand. Barter is not banned in Thailand, and if bitcoin isn't yet recognized as a currency, then a transaction using it would simply be barter.

And in fact even a bitcoin bank is still allowed in Thailand, according to the ruling. If it is allowed to be called a "bank" or not is not clear. But as long as they aren't exchanging bitcoins for Thai Bhat, they should be okay.

"For now we asked they not involve themselves with the baht because what they do may be a way to speculate on the exchange rate. Hence, we asked for time to look at the issue first" -- Bank of Thailand Governor Prasarn Trairatvorakul, from parent post's link

Cost-Benefit Analysis (2)

Freshly Exhumed (105597) | about a year ago | (#44561469)

Bloomberg: "So let me get this straight... we can make money by just re-using computer time ***AND*** heat the subways? Who thinks up this stuff? I'm in!"

Re:Cost-Benefit Analysis (2)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year ago | (#44561511)

That is not remotely accurate in any way. 875 "computers" as in slightly above average PCs would equal the hashing power of one bitcoin ASIC miner, which runs at 30 watts.

Re:Cost-Benefit Analysis (2)

indeterminator (1829904) | about a year ago | (#44561901)

So has ButterflyLabs actually managed to deliver some of those ASIC miners already? I figured it will be more profitable for them to keep any hardware they build...

Find another place to trash US regulator ! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44561493)

We already owe you nothing for the financial crisis.
You fail systematically at every of your duties.

Same for the internet.
Governments and regulators are to the internet what hooligans are to sports.

The internet must be purged of external influences, through force and crypto anarchy.

Can Someone Explain To Me The Difference... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44561519)

Between bitcoin and something like WoW gold and similar virtual currencies? Why all the interest in bitcoin all of a relative sudden after decades of ignoring all the trade in other virtual currencies?

Re: Can Someone Explain To Me The Difference... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44561555)

Because MMOs try to ban gold sellers.

Re:Can Someone Explain To Me The Difference... (4, Informative)

ThatAblaze (1723456) | about a year ago | (#44561593)

Money is the most liquid medium of barter. Game money has to be converted to real money in order to have value. You would never try to pay for something outside of a game with game money, that would just be absurd. Instead you would sell the game money to an interested party, just like you would with, say, collectable baseball cards.

Bitcoins, however, are being used directly as a medium of exchange.

Re:Can Someone Explain To Me The Difference... (3, Insightful)

jd659 (2730387) | about a year ago | (#44561869)

Game money has to be converted to real money in order to have value. You would never try to pay for something outside of a game with game money, that would just be absurd.

Absolutely not true. When the number of players in a game is limited, then to reach the people outside of the game would require the "conversion" to some more accepted form of payment that is used by the outside group. Once more people start playing the same game, the conversion becomes less and less necessary. That is true for any type of monetary exchange.

Think of this as people in Europe are playing their game and exchanging Euros, but once a European comes to the US, using the same Euros is significantly more difficult without exchanging them to the US Dollars. However, if you find a person at the garage sale who frequently travels to Europe, he might be happy to accept your Euros without converting to dollars. The same becomes true of the Bitcoin, the more people join the "game" the easier it becomes to use it as real currency without doing any conversion.

Re: Can Someone Explain To Me The Difference... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44561607)

Hedgies are in and they got burned, can't have that, now want somebody to pay.

Re:Can Someone Explain To Me The Difference... (1)

Agent ME (1411269) | about a year ago | (#44561727)

Bitcoin is decentralized peer-to-peer cryptocurrency. It's a protocol, not something controlled by someone. There's no bank that can say you've reached your transaction limit or surprise you with a new fee out of nowhere. There's no Paypal who can decide your account looks suspicious and freeze it. There's no game company that limits its trade and creates more on its whim. There's no group who have to trust to keep running vital servers out of the goodness of their hearts.

Re:Can Someone Explain To Me The Difference... (2)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44562169)

And that is the real problem goverments are having with bitcoin.

The FED doesn't have their say about it or get their cut. The IMF. Whatever the central agency of EU is..

Every country has that one group who is above the law because they control the money.

Bitcoin doesn't have that. Has no place for that. Thats why it'll end up being banned outright eventually. Unless they can figure out how to implant themselves into the bitchains and get their cut. keep control. monitor everything they want. and have their say about it's 'value'.

You gotta give the devil his due.

Re:Can Someone Explain To Me The Difference... (2)

dynamo52 (890601) | about a year ago | (#44561791)

[Can Someone Explain To Me The Difference] between bitcoin and something like WoW gold and similar virtual currencies? Why all the interest in bitcoin all of a relative sudden after decades of ignoring all the trade in other virtual currencies?

There are many important differences but I would say the most the most significant is one of simple trust. With WoW gold, Amazon coins, Facebook credits, or any other virtual currency to exist before Bitcoin you had to place your trust in the issuer of those tokens. This means that ultimately, their value is entirely dependent upon the fortunes and whims of that issuer. They could be discontinued, devalued, confiscated, or erased at any time and in a fashion beyond your control. As Bitcoin is entirely decentralized there is no such counter party risk. The protocols are open source and can only be changed by the collective agreement of greater than 50% of the total hashing (processing) power available to the network as a whole. Also, as there is no central server or organization that can be shut down it is highly resistant to coercion or seizure. Even if it were ruled illegal it would be nearly impossible for a government to completely restrict its use.

Re:Can Someone Explain To Me The Difference... (1)

91degrees (207121) | about a year ago | (#44562375)

Honestly, I think it's just a matter of scale. I'm sure that if WoW can be used for money laundering, it is being used for money laundering, but there are limits to how much you can trade here. WoW transactions never exceed a few thousand dollars, and these are rare. Bicoin transactions worth tens of thousands of dollars occur several times a day.

Why I am not surprised? (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44561543)

BitCoin is not an anonymous currency. It was touted as such, but if one really wanted an anonymous currency, they would have used one of Chaum's ideas (DigiCash, anyone?)

Not sure if it is true, but people have been posting books about why one has to avoid Bitcoin, from the fact that it is centralized (which can cause someone offline to get fucked if someone hands them some coins and then spends the same coins to someone else), to the tracability aspect, to the fact that the whole system benefited the people who came in first and could grind the coins out on CPUs, no GPUs, FPGAs, or ASICs needed, as is needed these days.

Oh, the fact that there are no insured BitCoin exchanges, and there are no security measures in place doesn't help either.

Re:Why I am not surprised? (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about a year ago | (#44561597)

With risk comes reward or peril. In terms of BitCoins where regulators will tighten the grip will be the exchanges, that is unless you want a 100% decentralized currency in which every one trusts what everyone else has. Unfortunately for digital currency like this to actually work you have to have an arbitrator to say that you have X of whatever that can be considered tender for exchange. In the case of traditional currency you carry it around with you, paper or coin. In plastic currency you have a bank with Visa, MC or AMEX backing your transaction. What will happen is that BitCoin exchanges will become targets just like Mega Upload and will be branded as supporting terrorism or illegal trafficking in goods or for not operating within the guidelines of a financial institution, then all those BitCoins will suddently become worth about as much as the bits they're written on. Oh sure there may be some cat and mouse for awhile but eventually people will lose interest in it and go do something else with their ASICs.

For a digital currency to be truly viable it needs to be 100% distributed and invulnerable to regulatory intercession otherwise why bother?

Re:Why I am not surprised? (1)

sFurbo (1361249) | about a year ago | (#44562075)

For a digital currency to be truly viable it needs to be 100% distributed

Like BitCoin? What aspect needs to be improved?

and invulnerable to regulatory intercession otherwise why bother?

Isn't Bitcoin about as invulnerable as a digital currency can be? The government can declare it illegal and seize any computers used, but that is true for anything, not just digital currencies.
If a big enough player throws enough computing power after it, they can take over the network, but is there any way to avoid this kind of vulnerability? As far as I understand, it should be clear if this happens.
If any vulnerability in hashes is found, bitcoin could be in trouble, but we are in much larger trouble elsewhere if that happens.

Re:Why I am not surprised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44562821)

Bitcoins are invulnerable to regulatory intercession. The problem is, you are not.

Re: Why I am not surprised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44561639)

It's mystifying why people think it's a good investment.

Re:Why I am not surprised? (1)

Agent ME (1411269) | about a year ago | (#44561781)

BitCoin is not an anonymous currency. It was touted as such, but if one really wanted an anonymous currency, they would have used one of Chaum's ideas (DigiCash, anyone?)

Bitcoin is decentralized, not anonymous. The previous more anonymous cryptocurrencies were centralized. Centralized cryptocurrencies sound much easier to regulate.

from the fact that it is centralized (which can cause someone offline to get fucked if someone hands them some coins and then spends the same coins to someone else),

I have no idea what you're trying to say here.

to the tracability aspect

Bitcoin does have some privacy issues. Users are able to make it hard-to-follow their history if they try. I'm hoping some future Bitcoin improvements help make tracing harder. (BIP 32 [bitcoin.it] could help as a side effect.)

to the fact that the whole system benefited the people who came in first and could grind the coins out on CPUs, no GPUs, FPGAs, or ASICs needed, as is needed these days.

I can't fathom a way that this sort of thing wouldn't happen with a new cryptocurrency in one way or another.

Re:Why I am not surprised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44562207)

BitCoin is not an anonymous currency. It was touted as such, but if one really wanted an anonymous currency, they would have used one of Chaum's ideas (DigiCash, anyone?)

BitCoin is not an anonymous currency correct, but there is no global registry of who's who. But even so, if you run your bitcoin client via the tor network, and make sure it never communicates outside of it, and change the receiving address for each incoming transaction it's fairly safe.
Also there are some ways to make it a bit more obscure to trace where the money is transferred to a 3'rd party that then transfers that amount of bitcoins, but mainly not the same bitcoins, to a 3'rd account you have and it should be done in increments using commonly used transaction-sizes and should be done over an extended period of time...

That way it's fairly anonymous.... But then on the other hand.. A 100Euro bill can be transferred in completely anonymous ways too... Just mail it in snail-mail, just keep it wrapped in tinfoil...

Re:Why I am not surprised? (0)

Aighearach (97333) | about a year ago | (#44562435)

it is hilarious when people claim it is anonymous, when it records the entire purchase history. It is about as exactly the opposite of anonymous as you can get!

Re:Why I am not surprised? (2)

Lennie (16154) | about a year ago | (#44562573)

It's pretty obvious they wanted to make it anonymous and it's a hard problem they didn't want to spent all their time on without solving all the other problems.

It's more like obfuscated at this point, it's like more like circumstantial evidence. Probably true, but can't be proven to be 100% correct.

Creator (2)

Programming Ace (623151) | about a year ago | (#44561621)

Maybe they should figure out who actually created bitcoins, and figure out if he's sitting on millions of dollars of coins himself?

Re:Creator (1)

Agent ME (1411269) | about a year ago | (#44561737)

And that would help regulate it how?

Re:Creator (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44561823)

You mean the anonymous guy, Satoshi Nakamoto, who nobody has been able to identify?

Sure gives me confidence in a currency when the originator of it skulks behind a mask.

IMHO (and again, personal opinion here), Bitcoin has been nothing but a scam. The guys in first get the goodies, the currency is not anonymous, so there will be many people whose trail will be followed and their places raided.

I've not been impressed with BitCoin exchange security either, with all the news reports.

So, all in all, I can waste a lot of electricity trying to mind BitCoins (since the easy times are long gone), have a long audit trail where anyone can trace every purchase to me forever, have to always be online (offline BitCoin purchases are asking to get screwed), have to use some mysterious guy's software where there is no source available, all for some magic currency which might be geektastic, but benefits nobody but early adopters?

Hell with that. There is nothing BitCoin gives me that I can't do via normal transaction channels. To boot, I won't have FINCEN or other LEOs smashing down my door either.

Re:Creator (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44562107)

> have to use some mysterious guy's software where there is no source available

What? The Bitcoin software is open source and maintained by the community.

Re:Creator (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44562367)

Fear not, obvious troll is obvious. The real hook was the final sentence that suggested anyone doing something which is legal and ethical but might upset the powers that be is an idiot that should expect to have his door smashed in.

A good piece of flamebait all around; I don't know why more people didn't fall for it.

Re:Creator (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44562321)

It makes no sense to whine about the early adopters thing. When you were born, people were using money. Wealth was distributed, unevenly, and sometimes unfairly, among people.

Now you have the chance to get in fairly close to the start, but you'd rather whine about other people having come in before you.

Re:Creator (1)

Issarlk (1429361) | about a year ago | (#44562509)

> You mean the anonymous guy, Satoshi Nakamoto, who nobody has been able to identify?

You and I both know that if he wasn't anonymous he'd been stopped by now, I'm sure Bitcoin violates some patent, or even simpler: Satoshi may have raped a couple women too? Protecting your anonymity when you pusblish some software that can get the bankers angry makes me trust the guy more because it proves that he's not insane.

... and money laundring (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44562085)

It's been quite the popular pasttime to track down all the money down then demand people justify themselves to the last penny. All in the name of the wars against stuff, like the war on drugs and the war on terrorism. And sure it has some effect. Most notably, that has included making bankers hated for policing their customers courtesy having to carry out the rules. They didn't exactly stand up for their clients, but in the end it's still the rules that're the immovable obstacle here.

Bitcoin is one of the mechanisms where the market sees a deficiency and seeks to fill it in. Yet the first thing the authorities do is try and apply verbatim the same faulty, overreaching rules. The rule of rules is that if there exists a large discrepancy between what society wants and what the rules say, it's the rules that're in the wrong. And I think this is what's happening here.

The annual Slashdot hate tournament (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44562295)

Result: Slashdot users hate the US Government more than they hate Bitcoin; well done USA!

Next up is POSS vs ICANN. Remember to get your bets in before the end of the day.

Regulate them like the other too big to prosecute? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44562603)

Or just more Banker Lobbyist looking out for Banker interests?

Captcha: anyway

What needs regulating... (1)

buck-yar (164658) | about a year ago | (#44562741)

The Federal/State governments are what need regulating. Seems like the govt has become Skynet, an omnipotent self perpetuating force.

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