A group of digital currency companies and organizations, as well as a number of US law enforcement agencies, are establishing a new public-private forum in a bid to foster communication and education between the government and industry stakeholders.
Dubbed the Blockchain Alliance, the initiative is being spearheaded by Coin Center and the Chamber of Digital Commerce, with support from a range of companies including: BitFury, BitFinex, BitGo, Bitnet, Bitstamp, Blockchain, Circle, Coinbase, CoinX, itBit, Kraken, Noble Markets and Xapo. The Alliance will also draw support from several bitcoin developers and the MIT Digital Currency Initiative’s Brian Forde.
Government agencies and departments already taking part include the US Justice Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Secret Service, the Department of Homeland Security, the US Marshals Service and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. More agencies, including international ones, are expected to join in the months ahead.
Jason Weinstein, the former US Deputy Assistant Attorney General named to the board of BitFury in March, will act as the group’s first director.
Both Coin Center executive director Jerry Brito and Weinstein suggested one of the primary goals of the initiative is to help change the perception that bitcoin and digital currencies are “a currency for criminals”.
To do this, the Alliance will maintain a mailing list through which law enforcement officials can ask questions, host regular conference calls and, potentially, produce larger gatherings that bring industry members and government officials together.
“Essentially it’s a public-private forum that’s going to make it easier to have a single point of contact with law enforcement; for people in the bitcoin industry, academia, developers, to have conversations about law enforcement on the bitcoin blockchain, to ask questions and to answer questions.”
Weinstein cited the companies involved as the main impetus behind the initiative’s formation and direction forward.
“The most critical thing here is that this is being driven by the industry,” he said. “This wasn’t LE coming to us and saying ‘Help us’, this was the industry going to law enforcement and saying, ‘Let us help you’.”
Weinstein went on to stress that the Alliance’s function isn’t to help law enforcement conduct investigations into the industry. Rather, he characterized it as a forum for “high level conversations” that focus on the broader trends of the technology and how it’s being used in the world today.
In a statement, Chamber of Digital Commerce president Perianne Boring said the initiative will help spark discussion between the industry and law enforcement.
“It’s no secret that bitcoin has perception issues, which is a roadblock to mainstream adoption. Having an open dialogue with law enforcement and policymakers will help reduce anxiety about this transformative technology,” she said.
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