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The technology industry has turned the Bay Area into an economic powerhouse that many of the world’s most valuable companies call home. But the influx of well-paid tech workers has also clogged the region’s infrastructure and sent housing prices soaring, exacerbating a homelessness crisis on the…
The city of Rancho Palos Verdes confirmed that a petition drive has collected enough signatures to put a measure on the ballot to raise salaries and provide panic buttons for hospitality workers, but residents won’t vote on the initiative until 2019.
The five-member City Council voted unanimously…
Heads, you’re under arrest. Tails, you’re free to go. Body camera video shows Georgia police officers laughing as they use a coin-flip app to decide whether to detain a woman during a traffic stop in April, reports the AP . The video shows Roswell police Officer Courtney Brown asking Sarah Webb…
Kenya’s Treasury Secretary has been tasked with the responsibility of investigating the current state of cryptocurrency adoption in the country, which has so far been growing with no regulations. In a couple of weeks, he is to give his report to parliament, advising them how to proceed with regulating cryptocurrencies.
Decision in Two Weeks
The Kenyan parliament has reportedly given Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich two weeks to decide whether cryptocurrencies need to be regulated, Business Daily Africa reported on Wednesday.
The Finance and National Planning Committee questioned Rotich about the use of bitcoin in the country. Specifically, the committee asked “why the Treasury and the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) allowed people to venture into the unregulated cryptocurrency space without being licensed to operate and taxed,” the news outlet detailed and quoted the chairman of the committee, Joseph Limo, saying:
We are surprised to hear that even the CBK is not aware that there is a lounge at Kenyatta University, an ATM in town, and a hotel in Nyeri which trade in bitcoins. There is a bigger problem in Kenya since people are trading billions in virtual space yet the Treasury has not licensed and taxed it like trade in M-Pesa and bank transactions.
When to Start Regulating
Rotich admitted that there is a lot of interest in cryptocurrency, adding that he will look into whether there are crypto exchanges operating in the country. So far, “I am not aware of people operating locally…But I will endeavour to find out whether we have local exchangers,” the publication quoted him.
After explaining that the central bank will identify any local crypto exchanges and evaluate their risks to see whether regulation is needed now or later, he asserted:
The issue of cryptocurrencies is evolving and we can take a position as a country. This is a delicate balance between supporting innovation and killing it.
Parliament’s Concerns about Crypto
Capital Business also reported on Wednesday that “Molo Constituency Member of Parliament Kimani Kuria wants cryptocurrencies such as bitcoins to be regulated due to risks associated with digital currencies.”
Citing that “cryptocurrency transactions are anonymous,” Kuria claims they “can easily be used by corrupt government officials seeking to hide fraudulent money.”
He proceeded to describe, “A person who has billions of money acquired wrongly needs only to buy several bitcoins which can store value in a system that lacks centralized outsight. He then could go to another country, recover his money and move on with life.”
In answering a question by the Finance and National Planning Committee, Rotich was “hesitant to respond on the government’s capacity to monitor and regulate cryptocurrency transactions conducted within the Kenyan borders,” the news outlet described. However, he elaborated:
Unlike other investment avenues, cryptocurrencies are not regulated by any government authorities. Due to their unregulated nature, limited understanding of the cryptocurrency and the influx of companies engaging in it, it is prone to abuse by criminals, terrorists and extortionists who are taking advantage of the unregulated space.
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The post Kenya Has Two Weeks to Decide Whether to Regulate Cryptocurrencies appeared first on Bitcoin News.
Florida prosecutors say they aren’t charging a group of teens who taunted a drowning disabled man and recorded his death, the AP reports. State Attorney Phil Archer released a statement Friday announcing his office’s decision not to criminally charge four juveniles and one adult for failing to help 31-year-old Jamel…
Every effort to split the state of California , and there have been several, has ultimately failed. But a new one led by Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper has already gotten farther than most. Draper’s plan to split California into three separate states of roughly equal population—Northern California, from…
The city of Zug, home of the Swiss Crypto Valley, will invite its residents to take part in an experimental blockchain-based vote. They are expected to share opinions on several questions of local importance, including the fireworks display during the annual Lakeside Festival and the use of digital IDs to borrow books and pay parking fees. This and other fintech and crypto-related stories from the Alpine nation and other corners of Europe are featured in today’s edition of Bitcoin in Brief.
Zug Experiments with Blockchain-Based Vote
Authorities in the Swiss city of Zug plan to ask local residents to participate in a consultative blockchain-based vote this month utilizing the city’s electronic ID system. They will be able to vote via their smartphones by downloading and installing an app. The experimental vote will be held between June 25 and July 1. Citizens will be asked if they are in favor of setting alight fireworks during the annual Lakeside Festival, and whether they think digital IDs should be used to borrow books from the library, pay parking fees, and for identification on regular referendums.
According to Swissinfo, the results of the vote will be non-binding. Nevertheless, the initiative, which aims to test whether blockchain can be used on a broader scale, highlights again the positive attitude of Swiss authorities towards cryptocurrencies and the underlying technology. The canton of Zug, dubbed Switzerland’s Crypto Valley, has become home to many fintech startups and even established crypto companies like the Chinese giant Bitmain, which has opened an office there.
For some time now, Zug has been accepting cryptocurrency payments for municipal services, including company registrations using bitcoin and ether. The city introduced its eID system to provide citizens with digital access to council services. The pilot phase of the project started last fall. The system is based on blockchain technology.
New Swiss Body to Simplify Capital Markets
In another example of Switzerland’s serious approach to fintech innovations, leading representatives of the country’s financial, technological, academic and legal sectors have recently formed the new Capital Markets and Technology Association (CMTA) to facilitate the use of blockchain in financial markets. In a press release, they noted that “the blockchain technology has the potential to reduce the complexity of the capital markets system and lower the barrier of entry for startups.”
According to CMTA’s founders, the lack of legal certainty is slowing and can potentially compromise development in the field. They hope to facilitate access to funding for new businesses by defining a set of industry-supported open standards. These should ultimately contribute to value creation throughout the economy said Jacques Iffland, CMTA’s chair and partner at Lenz & Staehelin, the largest Swiss law firm.
Swissquote Bank Ltd, a leader in online banking, and Temenos, which specializes in banking software, are also behind the initiative. CMTA promises to work to create toolkits that can be used by new or established companies, businesses and startups to access funding and raise capital securely and efficiently, using new technologies and leveraging digitalization. The association is based in Geneva.
Irish Blockchain Startup Delivering Aid to Refugees Raises €1m
An Irish startup, using blockchain to facilitate the distribution of humanitarian aid, has raised an estimated €1 million from investors, according to industry sources quoted by The Irish Times. The Dublin-based Aid:tech is working in refugee camps, often in hotspots like the Middle East. On Wednesday, Enterprise Ireland and SGInnovate, the venture capital arm of the Singaporean development authority, announced simultaneous investments in the Irish company. This is the first time both state-backed organizations have allocated funds to support a blockchain business, the Irish daily notes. Amsterdam-based Blue Parasol Investments and Tin Fu Fund, a closed private equity fund managed by Shenzhen Capital Group, also took part in the funding round.
Aid:tech aims to increase transparency in the distribution of aid, welfare, remittances, donations, and healthcare services through digitizing their delivery using blockchain technology on its platform. According to the company, only a fraction of the estimated €306 billion (~$ 360 billion) transferred each year by non-governmental aid organizations is currently delivered via transparent systems which, the startup claims, are extremely expensive to administer. The blockchain technology employed by the Irish firm would allow all international aid to be accounted for, including the distribution of medicine, food and other essentials, the publication details.
Government-Backed Platform to Promote Ireland as a Blockchain Hub
In an attempt to highlight Ireland’s capabilities in the blockchain ecosystem, authorities in Dublin have launched a new government-backed platform. Blockchain Ireland, founded in partnership with a young company called Consensys, aims to create conditions for greater cooperation between startups working in the sector, both on national and international level. The platform was launched by the Irish Blockchain Expert Group and backed by Enterprise Ireland, the Irish Department of Finance, leading members of the country’s blockchain industry and representatives from a number of academic institutions.
The online platform is a source of useful information about the Irish blockchain ecosystem. It will be used to promote the country as a blockchain hub by highlighting the Irish technology sector and business environment which turn Ireland into an ideal location for blockchain-enabled business, Silicon Republic reports. The services it will be offering include providing information on setting up a new company and support for blockchain projects in Ireland. Its activities, however, will stretch beyond Irish borders. Blockchain Ireland will be working to develop the European and international blockchain ecosystem as well.
What are your thoughts on today’s topics in Bitcoin in Brief? Let us know in the comments below.
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The post Bitcoin in Brief Wednesday: Zug Tests Blockchain to Decide on Fireworks and Digital IDs appeared first on Bitcoin News.
The Supreme Court of Russia has taken upon itself the responsibility to decide a case that may become a precedent for the crypto sector. The highest judicial authority in the country has accepted an appeal against the blocking of a popular Russian analytical portal – Bitcoininfo.ru. Its decision will affect dozens of crypto websites with restricted access, including foreign platforms like Localbitcoins.com.
Setting a Precedent
Lawyers from the Roskomsvoboda project and the Center for Digital Rights law firm have appealed the blocking of Bitcoininfo.ru, issued by a local court in Saint Petersburg in 2016. They are also fighting restrictions imposed on access to the popular Finland-based peer-to-peer exchange platform Localbitcoins.com. Experts say the decision of the highest judicial authority is likely to become a precedent for the whole crypto sector in Russia.
This is the first cassation appeal against the blocking of bitcoin-related source to be reviewed by the Supreme Court, Sarkis Darbinyan, leading lawyer of “Roskomsvoboda” told RBC. It was filed on February 16 and the court will meet to look into the case on March 21, 2018. The decision to restrict access to Bitcoininfo.ru was taken by the Vyborgsky District Court in Russia’s Northern Capital.
Another local court, in Oktyabrsky District, banned more than 40 websites offering information about cryptocurrencies and exchange services in Russia. Its decision was recently struck down by the City Court of Saint Petersburg. The measure was requested by the Prosecutor’s Office and effectively restricted access to the internet platforms. The judges had stated that the spreading of information about bitcoin and the use of cryptocurrencies was illegal in the Russian Federation.
The Supreme Court in Moscow has subpoenaed Russia’s regulatory agency Roskomnadzor as a third party in the case. The Federal service is responsible for the supervision of communications, information technology, and mass media. It also has the final say when it comes to blacklisting websites in the country.
The Vyborgsky District Court decided to block Bitcoininfo.ru in June 2016. The publication of information about the “electronic currency” bitcoin, “a virtual means of payment and accumulation”, violates the provisions of the law “On the Central Bank of the Russian Federation”, the court’s decision read. Furthermore, that information “undermines the constitutional order and authority” in Russia and “the foundations of the material welfare of citizens”. According to the judges, the website had been violating the rights and legitimate interests of persons who had access to illegal information, and therefore was subject to restriction.
The decision states that the Russian ruble is the official currency in the country and that issuing other currencies and surrogates is illegal. The Bitcoininfo.ru case was initiated by the local district prosecutor. The website administrators found out about it post factum, after their platform had been blocked. Their lawyers now insist that there is no legal ground in the current Russian legislation to ban the spreading of cryptocurrency-related information. They also point out that Bitcoininfo.ru was not offering transaction services to its readers.
Over a Quarter of a Million Websites Blocked in 5 Years
The Center for Digital Rights lawyers say the review of the case in the Supreme Court is important not only for crypto-related sites, but also for the whole internet-based industry in Russia. They have filed at least 20 appeals in the last few years, but this is the first one the highest judicial authority has decided to look into. If it strikes down the ban on Bitcoininfo.ru, it will set a precedent for many similar cases and put an end to the debate about the legality of cryptocurrencies.
The exact number of banned Russian crypto websites is unknown. According to Roskomsvoboda, access to several dozen domains containing the word “bitcoin” has been restricted by court decisions or by the Federal Tax Service. Last summer the regulatory agency Roskomnadzor announced it had blocked about 257,000 internet platforms in a period of five years.
Do you think the Supreme Court of Russia is going to rule in favor of restoring access to bitcoin-related websites? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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Mitch McConnell is now saying voters in Alabama should decide if they want Republican candidate Roy Moore to be their new senator, Politico reports. Appearing on ABC’s This Week , the Republican Senate majority leader said, “I’m going to let the people of Alabama make the call” when they vote in…
The head of the FCC on Wednesday released his detailed proposal to repeal net neutrality rules for online traffic, setting the stage for a vote next month. Here are the five commissioners who will decide the latest round of that battle at the FCC’s Dec. 14 meeting.
L.A. Times – Business