April 25, 2018

Congress should kickstart the response to virtual currencies

By Elizabeth Rosenberg and Edoardo Saravalle

Bitcoin and other virtual currencies are no longer just a technological novelty or a speculative bubble. They are affecting U.S. national security. To face their potential threat, Congress should organize an expert task force on virtual currencies and require the executive branch to formulate a national virtual currency strategy.

Recently, the national security implications of virtual currencies have come to the fore. Last month, President Trump prohibited use of the new Venezuelan virtual currency known as “el petro” aimed at evading U.S. sanctions. Then, a report revealed that Russia has advised Caracas on the currency, suggesting a concerted sanctions evasion scheme involving a primary U.S. competitor. During the same week, the city of Atlanta suffered a ransomware attack where the perpetrators took over the city’s computers and demanded a ransom in bitcoin.

These developments point to how concrete the threat of virtual currencies is. Yet, the U.S. government lacks a centralized source of knowledge on the threat or a whole-of-government strategy to counter it. Congress should lead on both.

Read the full article at The Hill

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