Policy: Technology

Bitcoin Foundation responds to Joe Manchin's call for ban

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Ashe Schow,Technology,Bitcoin,Joe Manchin

A lawyer for the Bitcoin Foundation has responded to Sen. Joe Manchin's call to ban the popular cryptocurrency by offering to educate the West Virginia senator on its merits.

Patrick Murck, general counsel for the Bitcoin Foundation, a nonprofit devoted to promoting Bitcoin, offered information about the positives and negatives of the cryptocurrency in a letter to Manchin.

Manchin had proposed a ban of the currency on Wednesday.

Specifically, Murck discussed the potential for Bitcoin to assist developing nations where local currency is mismanaged. Murck also addressed the senator's concern that Bitcoin was mostly used for illicit activities, pointing out that law enforcement has caught up to the technology - as evidenced by the fall of the Silk Road online marketplace.

“The Silk Road collapsed, and successor sites have collapsed,” Murck said. “We anticipate studying more carefully privacy, anonymity, pseudonymity and the needs of law enforcement with respect to Bitcoin.”

But just because Bitcoin could be — and has been – used for such activities doesn’t mean it should be banned, Murck said.

Furthermore, Bitcoin could become competition for the credit card industry as more businesses accept it. (Bitcoin currently does not require a surcharge.)

“We do not believe that this is the right time in U.S. economic history to turn away from innovations that offer improvements in the jobs picture and the economy,” Murck said. “If Bitcoin does not flourish in the U.S., it will flourish elsewhere, and the U.S. will cede leadership to the countries with the more foresighted approach to innovation and economic progress.”

Murck encouraged members of Congress who don’t understand Bitcoin to learn about the currency, rather than try to stop it before it gets any bigger.

“There is no need to fear Bitcoin or overreact to the challenges that accompany its huge potential benefits,” Murck said.

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