BitLicense 2014 vs IntLicense 1994: What if this had passed 20 years ago?
The Bitlicense regulation is bringing up memories of early internet regulation. What would have happened if today's Bitcoin regulation was applied to yesterday's Internet?
“We have sought to strike an appropriate balance that helps protect consumers and root out illegal activity – without stifling beneficial innovation”
We should all be fortunate that the statement above was ‘never’ made by Ron Brown; the former chairman of the Department of Commerce, which oversees the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
Those were the words of the Benjamin M. Lawsky on July 17, 2014 in a statement introducing the proposed BitLicense regulation. But what if 20 years earlier on July 17, 1994 a document known as the IntLicense was released to the world for a 45 day review period by the public?
Would the majority of Americans know how to reply? How different would our world look today? Would we still have companies like Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, Google and countless other forms of technology we now take for granted. 1994 was a very critical time for the Internet as the first browser was just about to make its official press release on October 13th and people were just starting to get the feel for the AOL Instant Messenger and this radical new technology called email.
Over the last month, the comparisons keep being made of how this could have been the Internet itself that is being stifled of innovation. It’s understandable that no one want’s to read another 35 pages, but just think about all the technology that you take for granted today and you should recognize that the BitLicense is as detrimental to growth as the theoretical IntLicense described here would have been to the Internet.
By simply changing a few definitions “Virtual Currencies” to “Virtual Communication”, “Anti-Money Laundering” to “Anti-Anonymous Communication”, “Compliance” to “Copyright”, and adding one more to distinguish “Virtual Communication” from “Virtual Commerce”, we start to the get the picture of what the world might have been!
What if every Blogger had to hire a “copyright” expert and every time you wanted to post a comment on-line, your identity had to be confirmed, where would we be today? Here are a few sections of the IntLicense proposal:
Section 200.3 License
(a) License required. No Person shall, without a license obtained from the superintendent as provided in this Part, engage in any Virtual
Currency[Communication] Business Activity.
(b) Unlicensed agents prohibited. Each Licensee is prohibited from conducting any Virtual
Currency[Communication] Business Activity through an agent or agency arrangement when the agent is not a Licensee.
Anti-money laundering[Anti-anonymous communication] program
All values in United States dollars referenced herein must be calculated using the methodology to determine the value of Virtual
Currency[Commerce] in Fiat[Government] Currency that was approved by the Department under this Part.
(a) Each Licensee shall conduct an initial risk assessment that will consider legal,
compliance[copyright], financial, and reputational risks associated with the Licensee’s activities, services, customers, counterparties, and geographic location and shall establish, maintain, and enforce an anti-money laundering[anti-anonymous communication] program based thereon. The Licensee shall conduct additional assessments on an annual basis, or more frequently as risks change, and shall modify its anti-money laundering[anti-anonymous communication] program as appropriate to reflect any such changes.
Section 200.19 Consumer protection
currency[communication] is not legal tender[speech], is not backed[endorsed] by the government, and accounts and value balances[controversial statements] are not subject to Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation[1st Amendment Protections] or Securities Investor Protection Corporation protections[4th Amendment Protections against diary and ‘private papers’ searches];
Unlike Government agencies, which create inflation but clearly do not acknowledge its existence, this document does since $10,000 today sure isn’t what it was back in 1994:
(2) Reports on transactions. When a Licensee is involved in a transaction or series of transactions for the receipt, exchange, conversion, purchase, sale, transfer, or transmission of Virtual
Currency[Communication for commerce], in an aggregate amount exceeding the United States dollar value of $10,000[$6,218] in one day, by one Person, the Licensee shall notify the Department, in a manner prescribed by the superintendent, within 24 hours.
It’s hard to put the genie back in the bottle as has recently been proven with the constant attempts to pass Internet control bills like PIPA, SOPA and CISPA, but we all know the Government will just keep on trying. It looks clear that this time around the mistakes of letting technology roam free are being corrected before the ball starts rolling. If the process isn’t slowed down by regulation and licensing, government agents won’t be able to form a discussion committee fast enough to keep up with the most recent wave of MIT and Harvard dropouts looking to be the next Zuckerberg or Jobs before him.
Here is the IntLicense in its entirety, hopefully it will be in the hands of all those that helped create it, and they see what they are trying to do within this new world of technological and financial freedom!
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