Representatives from the Bitcoin Foundation spent the beginning of this week on Capital Hill representing the bitcoin community to federal policy makers and law enforcement. After meeting with nearly a dozen federal agencies on Monday, yesterday served as an opportunity to interface with legislators.
The team met with congressional staff from the offices of five legislators across both the Senate and House of Representatives. With Congress currently in recess, the Foundation capitalized on a rare opportunity to speak at length with government officials, whose schedules are often lighter between sessions. The timing apparently worked to their advantage, as they were able to secure 60-90 minute meetings with each office.
Patrick Murck, General Counsel for the Bitcoin Foundation, expressed the meetings this week were not for any immediate action, but rather to open a dialogue between government officials and the bitcoin community. “The sentiment on the Hill is that it’s still super early. There’s unlikely to be legislation any time soon. People are trying to understand the issues and who the stakeholders are,” Murck commented.
He also noted that a primary concern for lawmakers and legislators alike is around consumer protection, particularly with regards to financial privacy. In an industry comprised of young startups and a public ledger of all transactions, the perceived risk that an individual’s financial history could be compromised remains a centerpiece of discussions. “Consumer privacy is a huge issue for them; it would be a disaster if personal financial transactions were leaked. They want to know there are adequate protections,” explained Murck after the meetings.
Importantly, the US remains an important locale to address regulatory issues, but bitcoin remains a global phenomenon. “It’s certainly a core mandate of the Foundation to discuss these issues with legislators everywhere,” Murck told us, “The US is the 800 pound gorilla in the room, so it’s a good jurisdiction to do regulation right. If the US fails and doesn’t get it right, it’s not the end of bitcoin.”
Below is the handout TGB helped the Bitcoin Foundation prepare for distribution to federal law enforcement and legislators. The redacted sections showed aggregate industry trends that relied on proprietary data. Note: the content of the meetings was strictly industry focused; individual companies were explicitly not discussed.