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Here’s how Bitcoin charmed Washington

Here’s how Bitcoin charmed Washington

The Bitcoin Foundation's Patrick Murck testifies before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee (US Senate)

The Bitcoin Foundation’s Patrick Murck testifies before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. (U.S. Senate)

The pair of Bitcoin hearings held this week by Senate committees could have been a disaster for the Bitcoin community. After all, Bitcoin first came to mainstream attention in 2011 when Gawker reported on Silk Road, an anonymous online marketplace that allowed users to purchase a wide variety of illegal drugs with Bitcoin. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) denounced the site and suggested that Bitcoin was “an online form of money laundering.” A few months ago, it would have been easy to imagine the first congressional hearings on Bitcoin being a prelude to a federal crackdown on the decentralized financial network.

But that’s not what happened. Instead, the hearings were lovefests. All three Obama administration officials who testified this week stressed that Bitcoin has legitimate uses and argued that no new regulations were needed to police illicit uses of the network. Most of the other witnesses echoed those sentiments.

That wasn’t a coincidence. The cordial atmosphere of this week’s hearings was the culmination of months of careful diplomacy by Bitcoin advocates. Since the spring, leaders of the Bitcoin community and sympathetic policy advocates have been engaging with federal regulators, lawmakers and other influential figures inside the beltway. The result: a near-unanimous consensus that the federal government needs to be careful to avoid hampering the growth of the world’s first completely decentralized payment network.

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This entry was posted on November 21, 2013 by and tagged .

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