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US Elections Watchdog May Change Bitcoin Rules 20 Oct 2016, midnight

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Amidst the backdrop of a disorderly presidential election between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, the US Federal Election Commission is gently debating whether to reclassify bitcoin contributions are treated by it.

In May 2014, the FEC greenlit bitcoin donations to political campaigns, classifying them as an “in-kind contribution in response to a petition by a Make Your Laws PAC, a North Carolina firm. At the time, the agency put a max of $100 per subscriber, a quantity that corresponds to whatever the current market value is at the time of the gift. By ruling that bitcoin gifts are in-kind contributions, the FEC set the digital money in other sorts of advantages that were valuable or the exact same type of stocks.

This is largely driven by the reality that bitcoins can’t be deposited into a bank account. Rather, a campaign holds on to any bitcoins obtained till it decides to sell them, at which time a10-day deadline for depositing the funds kicks in. Public records, nevertheless, reveal the FEC is rethinking this approach, at least in part. The process was approved by the agency late last month. The agency said it was especially considering a comment from those who run payment platforms and wallet services. The reality that in-kind contributions can’t be deposited by campaigns into their official lender accounts could lead the bureau to stick to the present rules. The discourses at the FEC aren’t happening in a vacuum, however. The possible change comes amid a broader conversation within the FEC about how to supervise elections in an age of digitisation, which may also lead to modernised requirements for digital recordkeeping.

According to the plan document, the FEC needs to update it classifies electronic contributions as a whole. It cites one study that revealed roughly half of all campaign contributions during the 2012 election were sent either on the web or through e-mail. Like cards and platforms like paypal.com, the procedure will even encompass other electronic means of payment consequently.

At issue, the FEC said, is that the laws it is required to apply “mostly predate this technological evolution, as do several of the regulations” of the Commission.

When reached a consultant for the FEC declined to comment. Given that the FEC has only started its possible rule-changing process, it’s too early to say in which direction it might finally tend. To make it happen, the FEC is seeking to attract on opinions from the general public, including stakeholders in the electronic payments area that might finally be affected by any new rule it produces. Coin Center, a public plan and research outfit in Washington, said it plans to submit an opinion. Executive director Jerry Brito told CoinDesk that “we think it is great that the FEC is looking to modernise its rules”. The organisation has pushed in the past for the FEC to rework its guidelines on bitcoin gifts, criticising the limit that was $100. Yet even if the FEC does begin classifying a bitcoin contribution as a type of cash donation, it doesn't essentially lift the limitation that is $100. As it stands, donors can only give up to $100 in currency to your campaign, if the contribution is offered anonymously an amount that falls to $50.


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