Right now, Senator Tom Carper is giving an introduction into what bitcoin can be used to buy. He mentioned buying all goods but specifically spoke of drugs, weapons, and how it can be used to exploit children.
Carper mentioned how the silk road was taken down in a joint effort by the CIA, FBI and dept. of Homeland security. WILL CONTINUE UPDATING BITCOIN TIP: public address- 1AkF4HaJrJzXVYuSxifwLUWNEwhbGv5sXu
3:10 EST: jennifer Shasky calvery
- Treasury Department - Financial Crimes Mythili Ramen
(head of the Dept. of Justic Crimnal Division) Edward Lowry
- special agent in charge of criminal investigation division
3:13 EST - jennifer Shasky calvery
statement. 'Recognizing new payment methods must keep pace with laws against money laundering and illegal money transfers. Users of virtual currencies don't have transaction limits, is secure, can be used for money laundering. Illicit actors use virtual currencies in order to launder money, enable drug trafficking and move child abuse forward.
For businesses, complying with Federal laws is good for the business integrity.
Bringing virtual currencies into regulation will be positive for the US financial system.
3:20 EST: Mythili Raman
Virtual currencies are viewed through the lens of crimnal activity. Criminals will always look for new ways to hide their crimes. The criminal division's main aim is to reduce the ability of criminals to use virtual currencies for illegal activity.
Virtual currencies (as long as the comply with laws) are not illegal. They can be convenient for consumers because they are quick. These same currencies can also be used by criminals for drugs, weapon sales, and child pornography.
In 2007 - EGOLD moved 6 million dollars per day which may have been used for sale of drugs and child pornograpgy
When virtual currencies fail to live up to their Financial Laws, the Justice division will come after them.
Silk road- the largest online marketplace for illegal substances accepts BITCOINs exclusively for payment. When silk road was shut down, the US sized upwards of 70 million dollars from the silk road website.
The US justice department is encouraged by virtual currencies reaching out to comply with FINCEN's laws. (Financial Crimes. Enforcement Network)
3:27 EST- Edward Lowry Digital currencies have continually grown over the past 17 years. Since Criminals and other illegal organizations use virtual currencies such as E-gold and Liberty reserve for illegal operations
As FINCEN emphasized, digital currency exchanges MUST comply with money laundering laws.
The secret service has successfully found and arrested leaders of illegal organizations whom use digital currencies to fund their activities.
Digital currencies are tools used by a wide variety of criminals. The secret service and ICE (immigration and customs enforcement) cooperate with FINCEN in order to find criminals who use virtual currencies for money laundering.
3:34 EST Sen. Tom Caper
Asks about the early days of virtual currencies as well as what the future holds for future currencies.
3:35 EST- Jennifer Shasky Calvery
When there is a new "player" in the currency industries, most people think about the gaps that will exist in the market and how criminals will use it for illegal activity. Moving forward with change is very important though, so regulation is necessary.
3:36 EST- Mythili Ramen
Virtual currencies are not illegal as long as they comply with money laundering laws. The Criminal division needs to be vigilant towards virtual currencies in order to make sure they actively attempt to comply with laws.
3:38 EST -Edward Lowry
The secret service's hallmark is to adopt their defenses to an ever changing threat.
3:39 EST- Sen. Tom Carper
"what roll does the legislative body need in order to combat the dark side of this technology?"
3:41 EST - Edward Lowry
Device fraud- today anyone in the world can reach anyone else in the world. This has changed how ICE and the secret service must combat illegal activity. making his case for more money to his department
3:42 EST- Sen. Tom Carper
- Can Law enforcement keep up with the changing technology?"
3:44 EST- Mythili Ramen
Liberty reserve was taken down in a coordinated arrest done by the US branches joined with other governments. The ability of the criminal division is evolving just as much as criminal activity is evolving.
3:47 EST- jennifer Shasky calvery
Congress passing the Bank secrecy act. in 2011, the justice dept needed flexibility in order to combat digital currencies. With the USA patriot act sec 311, gives FINCEN the authority to name a foreign entity as using money laundering, and thus cut off from the US market.
3:49 EST- Sen. Tom Carper
- "Give examples of how virtual currencies have worked out for the good"
3:50 EST- jennifer Shasky calvery
Online banking and ACH (picture deposit) makes money exchange much easier for the consumer. But with each of these, we had to think about how criminals could exploit it. "CASH IS STILL THE BEST MEANS FOR LAUNDERING MONEY"
- jennifer Shasky calvery
3:52 EST- Sen. Tom Carper
" Do you see gaps in our legislation regarding virtual currencies?"
3:53 EST- Edward Lowry The secret service recognizes that the high level cyber criminals HAVE NOT moved towards P2P currencies such as bitcoin.
Many high-level criminals use centralized online currencies based in places with less regulatory laws.
3:54 EST- Sen. Tom Carper
"Which agencies need to be at the forefront of recognizing virtual currencies"
3:55 EST- Mythili Ramen
The FBI, DEA, OFAC, IRS are necessary participators but are already participators. The National crime agency in the UK has also participated. The Criminal division invites any other entities for help in identifying emerging threats and what governments can do about them
Currently, the criminal statutes used thus far have been effective. The substantive criminal statute, murder statute, and money laundering statutes have already been used to prosecute criminals that use virtual currencies.
Many updates to laws can still be made.
3:59 EST- Sen. Tom Carper
The JAO reports with the help of the IRS on "tax gap." 100's of millions of dollars in taxes that are owed to the treasury. The number is going down over the past 10 years
In may of this year, "virtual currencies could prevent a real vulnerability in the current system."
Question, "do you know the current guidance of that status?"
4:02 EST- Jennifer Shasky Calvery
FINCEN, once it collects financial data, disseminates the information to law enforcement. This is not only for taxes but also for evidence against criminals.
The JAO and FINCEN are working diligently to modify tax laws to incorporate virtual currencies.
The focus of FINCEN is to combat illegal use of virtual currencies while still within U.S laws. Conveniently, many of the laws are very flexible.
4:06 EST- Sen. Tom Carper
After the SILK ROAD shut down, many have popped up in its place. "How do we combat these websites?"
4:07 EST- Edward Lowry
We believe there are 3 infrastructures in place. The SILK ROAD forums, the digital currencies (those which fall outside of the guidance of FINCEN), and "bulletproof hosting" -an organization that provides web hosting to anyone with servers in countries with little regulation.
4:09 EST- Mythili Ramen
We have been successful in combating criminals who use anonymity to continue illegal activity.
4:10 EST- Sen. Tom Carper
Bitcoin and virtual currencies may move overseas to countries with less regulatory agencies. What can we do to combat this? How do we make business stay in the US?
4:12 EST-jennifer Shasky Calvery
Bitcoin is going to be a big player in the future of the exchange of goods and services. The financial action task force does a good job at making the countries around the world comply with regulatory laws.
4:15 EST - Mythili Ramen
This hearing is important for the law agencies because talking about these problems is not easy. Virtual currencies in of themselves are not illegal. Innovation is important. Just as criminals have done for ages, this is just another
means for illegal activity. We need to stay vigilant in keeping pace with evolving virtual currencies.
4:17 EST- Edward Lowry
The secret service will continue to work strategically to remove the gravest structures to the [US] infrastructure. We are going to have to adopt and jump over hurdles but we will work with foreign partners to make this happen. We will continue to work as a part of DHS to eliminate these threats. We believe that aggressive acts by law enforcement will benefit the world as a whole
4:18 EST-Jennifer Shasky Calvery
I heard a CEO of a fairly large bank say, "having the privilege to be a part of the financial industry comes with great responsibility. While innovation is a wonderful thing, it does come with obligations to become part of the US financial system. Regulation in place have help in minimizing the risk and the burden. We ask that businesses do this, put in place AML protections, register with FINCEN, maintain records (including suspicious reports)
We believe that these requests are reasonable because these currencies have already been used for illicit activity.
4:21 EST- Sen. Tom Carper
"This has been a thought provoking and encouraging discussion"
"It's not true We have to choose between a stronger economy and a clean environment"
"Is it possible to reap the benefits of this virtual currencies while still being able to clean up criminal activity?" -RECESS- and change of panel
4:28 EST Introduction by Sen. Tom Carper Ernie Allen
- Centre for missing & Exploited children Patrick Murck
-General council of BITCOIN foundation Jerry Brito
-Senior researcher of Technology at George Mason university. Jeremy Allaire
- Circle Internet Financial CEO
4:30 EST- Ernie Allen
Our goal is to bring people together to protect the digital economy while combating its misuse. We are excited for digital currencies to give "banking" to adults all over the world. Our concern today is the use of digital currencies in child pornography. Most countries have not added regulation to digital currencies.
Over the past year, I have consulted financial experts of this issue. Child pornography is being created and disseminated by using anatomizing technologies and virtual currencies.
Freedom hosting was shut down by law enforcement by penetrating
a loophole in freedom hosting's servers which gave users identities away.
Most of the arrests of those using anonymous networks are of those who are misusing the network. Because of this, we believe that we are not catching the high-level criminals who are using these networks.
We can press for global cooperation to solve these problems. Digital currencies move from nation to nation.
We need to address the core problem which is internet anonymity. An environment in which child exploiters can thrive and not be caught should not be allowed.
Anonymity allows illegal activity, but also acts to give a voice to those against oppressive regimes.
4:39 EST- Patrick Murck
There is no single bitcoin company that manages the value of bitcoin or the trade of bitcoins.
Bitcoin is like email for money. It is secure any completely transparent. Bitcoin can operate without 3rd parties.
Financial exclusion is a problem for the US. There is a rising tide of un-banked people within our borders. Bitcoin can help move people from a trapped economy to a globally connected economy.
Just like any currency, bitcoin can be used for illegal activity. It is no easier to commit crime with bitcoin then it is with any other currency.
Keeping the bitcoin network safe is all of out opportunity. When the SILK ROAD was shut down, the bitcoin community was excited.
Bitcoin is not some magical cloaking device that allows criminals free reign. The use of bitcoins is not un-regulated. The exchanges have a deep understanding of how to effectively allow users to trade bitcoin with fiat currencies.
Bitcoin exchanges- "If you give us clear rules, we will work to abide by them"
We would like to thank FINCEN to opening up the dialog about bitcoin. The bitcoin foundation looks forward to continuing in this dialog with the government and the public.
4:47 EST- Jeremy Allaire
As bitcoin moves into mainstream acceptance, it is important that governments fully understand how to include bitcoin into existing laws.
Bitcoin allows innovation in currency, exchange, and payment that many other currencies cannot offer. Much of our current infrastructure for finances has existed before
the internet was invented.
It is a risk if the government doesn't support businesses that want to use bitcoins. Such businesses may be encouraged to move offshore.
The U.S. falls behind in this critical economic innovation. A bitcoin exchange in CHINA has become the single largest currency exchange in the world .
We need to be open and evolving.
4:53 EST Jerry Brito
From facebook credit to world of warcraft gold, Virtual currencies are nothing new.
Prior to Bitcoins invention in 2009, all virtual currencies needed to be exchanged through an intermediary.
Emerging technologies allow great benefits but great risks. 3-d printers revolutionize personal creation, but also creation of guns.
While Bitcoin transactions don't need intermediaries, many exchanges can still convert government currency to bitcoins.
Criminals are more likely to use centralized currencies because they can lie about how much money has been moved. Currencies such the bitcoin infrastructure show every transaction that happens.
The U.S. could loose it's headstart on an emerging economy if it chooses to create strong regulatory laws.
4:59 EST- Sen. Tom Carper
"Where is the general agreement on the panel, and if not, how can we make agreement?"
5:00 EST- Ernie Allen
There is clear agreement that we can't just ignore the misuse, and that the misuse jeopardizes the currency in the long run.
5:02 EST Patrick Murck
There is a real need to create on ramps into the traditional economic system. The biggest obstacle to that happening is the ability of businesses to get bank accounts in the current system, even a checking account.
If you have the word "bitcoin" anywhere around you, your file will be cast aside.
5:04 EST- Jeremy Allaire
Anonymity needs to be addressed in some way POST IS TOO LONG, LINK TO PART II http://www.reddit.com/Bitcoin/comments/1qxgc9/for_those_not_in_us_cspan3_hearing_bitcoin/
Indeed, virtual currencies are nothing new to the Chinese. For example, more than 100 million people on the social platform QQ have used the Q coin for more than 10 years. And after China’s state-run China Central Television, or CCTV, ran a half-hour-long documentary on bitcoins, downloads of apps for processing and “mining” bitcoins soared in the world’s second largest economy.
Bitcoin, long the plaything of the Western ubernerd, now appears poised to grow substantially in China and other markets, like the euro zone, where government meddling in native currency valuations has left many distrustful of the money in their bank accounts.
Americans don’t have this problem -- yet. And that may be a problem in itself. According to bitcoin proponents, if the U.S. tries to ignore the nascent currency, writing it off as a financial fad with less value than the seemingly stable dollar, Americans risk ceding to the Chinese and others control of the future of what could be the most disruptive force in monetary exchanges since the credit card. In turn, the dollar and the ability of the U.S. to navigate global currency conflicts could be seriously weakened.
“Here’s the bottom line: Bitcoin has much higher popularity outside the U.S. and much higher potential outside the U.S.,” observed Andreas M. Antonopoulos of the Bitcoin Foundation. “If you go to an American and say, ‘Hey, there’s this new thing, bitcoin,’ they say, ‘Well, what’s wrong with the dollar?’ That question is different in other countries.”
Bitcoins are a finite, Web-based currency created in 2009 by a group of hackers working under the nom-de-Internet Satoshi Nakamoto. Exactly 10,952,975 bitcoins are in circulation, all of which have been purchased on exchange networks or mined. The currency is mined using software that processes transactions on the bitcoin network, adding groups of transactions, called blocks, to the chain. Miners are paid about 25 bitcoins per block. That digital money can then be used to purchase a variety of goods online, from legitimate software to heroin on the infamous virtual black-market Silk Road.
Bitcoin surged in value to $266 last month, thrusting the currency into the mainstream spotlight as investment poured in from sources as diverse as the hapless Brothers Winklevoss (of Facebook infamy) and Union Capital Ventures principal Fred Wilson (an early investor in Zynga, Twitter, and Kickstarter). Suddenly, everyone was talking about buying bitcoins. But the bubble burst in late April, and in the U.S. at least, bitcoin faded from the news. That was not the case in China, where Antonopoulos said downloads of bitcoin clients have eclipsed those in the U.S.
Bitcoins are mined in several steps. After downloading a bitcoin client, such as Coinbase (which serves as a wallet in which to store the bits of code that constitute the digital money), miners often join pools where they share computing power to decode algorithms in which bitcoins are hidden. The concept of bitcoins and bitcoin mining is cryptic for many people, even some otherwise forward-thinking American investors. The irony is that, for now, American startups are leading the bitcoin charge, and the U.S. government was the first to issue guidance on using the currency as payment -- a seemingly tacit recognition of bitcoin’s validity as legal tender. Why China Poses A Threat
Feng Li, the IDG partner who chose to fund Coinbase, said the Chinese have yearned for access to a virtual currency since the central government cracked down on the use of Q coins.
Q coins were introduced in March 2002 by Tencent Holdings Ltd. (HKG:0700), the parent company of the country’s most popular instant-messaging service, QQ , and they currently average an annual transaction value of more than 1 billion yuan ($163 million). That value is growing at about 15 to 25 percent each year.
Q coins, purchased with yuan, are predominantly used to buy virtual products and services in QQ and its related online games and social media. Originally, Tencent regulations prevented Q coins from being traded between users or converted back to yuan, but allowed users to trade points and purchase Q coins with their game accounts, then use the black market to convert them into cash. That caused concerns at the People’s Bank of China, China’s central bank. In January 2007, converting game points to Q coins was banned, and Tencent reiterated that Q coins constitute a product, not a currency, which seemed to satisfy the concerns.
“There has already been proof with the Q coin,” Feng said of the Chinese likeliness to start using bitcoin. “It’s been very well circulated and very well adopted.”
Already, shops on Taobao -- the Chinese equivalent to eBay Inc. (NASDAQ:EBAY), owned by Alibaba.com Ltd. (HKG:1688) -- accept bitcoins as payment for goods, as does the similar service, Tencent’s PaiPai.com.
The Chinese are embracing bitcoins in other ways. The first bitcoin fund began to raise money in June, with the goal of raising 20 million yuan. The fund’s investment threshold is 10,000 yuan, and it will mature in four years.
Q coin’s popularity isn’t the only reason bitcoin has appeal in China. As it turns out, China is the perfect place for bitcoin mining. While much of the developed world is well into the transition from personal computers to mobile devices, China’s PC market is still thriving, which provides the necessary computing power to run a successful business converting electricity into mined coins. Price caps on electricity already create wasteful use of energy in China, so running a code-crunching computer for hours on end isn’t as costly an investment as it would be in the U.S. And so-called “gold-mining” or “gold-farming” businesses already exist in China’s cybersphere. None of that will come as a surprise to any “World of Warcraft” player: Gamers in Chinese urban sweatshops are known to sit in front of glowing blue screens for hours, slaughtering players in the game for their spoils or mining gold deposits found in the sprawling milieu of Blizzard Entertainment’s international blockbuster. Those treasures are then sold to players in the game for real money.
China has a heavily controlled currency, which also makes bitcoin attractive.
“The more controlled the currency is, the harder the transactions are, the more friction there is in the national currency, the more appealing the coin is,” Antonopoulos said, noted that the most appealing place to use bitcoin would be a country whose economy is a veritable train wreck -- like Zimbabwe, except that the southern African nation lacks the necessary technology. “I would say China is perfect,” he said. “It’s got the penetration, it’s got the smartphones, it’s got the Internet and the people are familiar with virtual currencies. And, it’s got the not-as-appealing national currency.” Regulation In The U.S.
Guidance issued in March by the U.S. Treasury Department said that companies issuing or exchanging online cash, including bitcoin, would be subject to the same scrutiny as traditional firms such as the Western Union Co. (NYSE:WU) to prevent money laundering.
Less than two months later, the Department of Homeland Security proved that edict had teeth.
Federal officials obtained a warrant Tuesday to seize an account tied to Mt.Gox, the Tokyo-based exchange company that handles about 80 percent of all bitcoin trades. Authorities accused Mt.Gox’s U.S. subsidiary, Mutum Sigillum LLC, of failing to register as a money-services company with the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. An account held by the online-payments firm Dwolla was subsequently seized.
Many feared the warrant execution could cast a chill over the bitcoin industry as a sector centered on a borderless, decentralized money came under the scrutiny of the federal government.
That proved not to be the case, Coinbase’s Ehrsam said. “For bitcoin to go mainstream, or as it goes mainstream, it will be used in a higher and higher amount of transactions,” he said, adding that Coinbase is registered as a money-services firm. “There’s no way there will be all this money flowing through an unregulated system.”
Chris Larsen -- the CEO of OpenCoin, a fellow San Francisco-based payment platform that processes most national currencies as well as bitcoin and its own virtual cash, Ripple -- agreed. “They definitely are regulating them, [and] we actually think that’s a really good thing for the industry,” he told IBTimes. “I thought the guidance was a good idea. One of the things the guidelines seem to make clear for the first time is that a virtual currency could be used for goods and services.” The Price Of Regulation
But such regulation is a slippery slope, said Jerry Brito, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
Perhaps it begins with measures to prevent money-laundering, he said. But what measures would the government take to prevent the untraceable currency from being used for child pornography or human trafficking?
“Bitcoin has the potential to be a disruptive technology that would be beneficial to the economy, and we don’t want to kill off that potential to get at the other potential for bad stuff,” he observed. Brito, who plans to speak next month at a conference on virtual currencies organized by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, added: “We’re already the first country to enforce money-laundering laws against bitcoin. But the U.S. would be shooting itself in the foot if it went too far [with regulations] and either outlawed bitcoin or made the legal guidelines impossible to comply with.” Will China Step In?
So far, Chinese bitcoin merchants have little to fear. For many, the CCTV segment on bitcoin seemed to be a signal from Beijing, which heavily controls the channel’s content, that the currency is worth exploring.
Some of those interviewed speculated that the Communist Party wants to see bitcoin stockpiled in China, allowing the government to invest in it if, or when, the dollar is shaken from its perch as the world’s reserve currency.
It remains to be seen whether -- or, more likely, when -- China will intervene in the trade of bitcoin in its own economy. But for the U.S. to experience widespread adoption of the currency, which is considered a necessary step for gaining a grasp on the bitcoin market, limited government control will have to allow the money, like the Internet that birthed it, to develop organically.
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