A bill proposed to the US House of Representatives by two legislators is seeking to establish a “consensus-based definition of blockchain”.
Titled “Blockchain Promotion Act of 2018”, the bill was produced by Congresswoman Doris Matsui and Congressman Brett Guthrie. They are members of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology and Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection.
Introduced on 1 October, the bill intends to have the Department of Commerce create a working group of stakeholders within the government and private entities in order to achieve this consensus and study the technology further.
According to a press release, the “bi-partisan” bill comes with recommendations for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to further examine and study the impact of blockchain technology “on spectrum policy and opportunities for the adoption of blockchain to promote efficiencies within the Federal government”.
Matsui describes the technology as transformative for the global digital economy, citing “greatly increased transparency, efficiencies, and security in supply chains to more-opportunistically managing access to spectrum”, as blockchain deployment opportunities.
Battling for blockchain
Efforts to establish definitions of cryptocurrency alone in the United States have been ongoing and come up against significant barriers set in place by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Enterprises, innovations and federal entities are making the push to make US laws more accommodating for blockchain.
Cryptocurrencies in the states are generally classified as securities. Bitcoin and Ethereum don’t qualify as securities as they are decentralized, though this has prompted a backlash from the blockchain industry. In addition to this, the Chamber of Digital Commerce (CDC) published a paper that offers a guide on digital tokens for law and policymakers.
Currently, initial coin offerings are tricky to operate in the US as they require tedious and lengthy application processes to be permitted by the SEC, who known to be firm with unlicensed ICO traders.
The SEC is being pressed by the United States Congress clarify crypto security guidelines, a factor of which is having effects on the establishment and operation of domestic enterprises. In a letter to the SEC, Congress claims the SEC’s lack of clarification could cause the country to fall behind in the crypto and financial technology sectors.
Over the summer, a Congressional hearing saw the Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) speak up against the lack of suitable laws that allow the CFTC to participate in Proof-of-Concept blockchain tests. He said that due to bureaucracy, industry innovation is being stifled in the US.
A few weeks ago, blockchain companies formed “The Blockchain Association“, a lobbying group with the intention of representing entrepreneurs as well as investors who wish to navigate US laws compliantly. The group also wishes to see the present issues of cryptocurrency taxation and classification addressed. Coinbase, Circle, Polychain Capital, Digital Currency Group and Protocol Labs are the founding members.
In the Blockchain Promotion Act of 2018 press release, Congressman Brett Guthrie says:
“Blockchain can be a great resource for innovation and technology, but we must figure out exactly what best common definition is and how it can be used. I was proud to join my colleague Congresswoman Doris Matsui to introduce the Blockchain Promotion Act to better understand blockchain and its role in our digital economy.”
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