Somebody asks,
“What are your thoughts on the U.S. Senate Bill S.1241 to criminalise concealed ownership of bitcoin?” I have read the language of the bill.
First of all, in order for this to become law, it has to be considered by the Senate, then the House,
reconciled in committee if there’s two different versions, voted on by both the House and Senate, signed by
the President or included in another bill [that is signed], and translated into regulatory rules for agencies. Then the government and regulatory agencies get sued, and the courts get to interpret the latitude this bill has
to actually criminalise this behaviour. There’s a very long road and a lot of things can change.
Over the years, we’ve seen many people freak out about proposed language for a proposed bill
in one of the two houses that will do ‘XYZ.’ It [would take] a long time for that
to actually affect bitcoin holders. What Senate Bill S.1241 does, is it has some
language that extends some of the requirements for anti-money laundering (AML) and controls for counter-
terrorist financing. [Also], know-your-customer (KYC). It extends some of those explicitly to organizations that manage digital currencies; that includes exchanges and things like that. It also extends some of the AML laws that already exist, in terms of structuring and concealing transactions, to the use of digital currencies — which means that this
may make it illegal to run a mixer in the United States. For example, CoinTumblr, as it’s known.
[The keyword is] ‘may.’ Who knows where this goes? Who knows how far it goes? Who knows what comes out once it’s challenged in court? These things take a long time,
so I’m not particularly worried. This doesn’t really criminalise concealed ownership
[of] bitcoin. It criminalises certain activities that indicate concealed ownership of bitcoin. For example:
if you have an obligation to report for other reasons and you failed to do so or if you are running a tumbler
or an exchange in a way that is violating AML rules. La Résistance asks, “If bitcoin is criminalised in your
country, will you continue to publicly advocate for it? [What is the] best [way] to prepare for this possibility?” If simply owning bitcoin was criminalised in… I’m assuming by my “country,” you probably mean the
U.S., where I spend some of my time nowadays. But I’m not affiliated with one country;
if you are, that’s the first of your problems. If simply the ownership was criminalised,
that would tell me one thing: I no longer live in a country where
there is respect for individual rights. There is absolutely no logical reason why simply the ownership of numbers, digital keys, and control over [an amount of] digital currency, without any relationship to committing an actual crime against anybody else… If that was criminalized, I would consider that criminalisation of speech, of association, of expression, of political affiliation. That would, in my mind, violate the fundamental tenants of liberty. I would use my bitcoin to purchase the first and most
accessible airfare, to get the fuck out of that hell hole. Now, everybody can’t do that. But if your country
criminalises simply the possession of numbers, and the means you used to express yourself,
associate yourself, with other political organisations, you do not live in a free country.
You’re already quite far down the slippery slide. You should maybe exit before things get really difficult. The second part of the question is
how to best prepare for this possibility. Be prepared to travel. Have a valid passport.
Keep a clean record. Be ready to exit, even when others
are mocking you for being “paranoid.”