Bitcoin Q&A: Criminalization of ownership?

What are your thoughts on US Senate Bill S.1241 to extend anti-money laundering rules to cryptocurrency businesses and (supposedly) criminalise ownership of bitcoin? What would be the implications for mixers in the United States? What should people do if they live in a country which criminalises ownership and/or use of bitcoin?


This is a question from the patron-only live Q&A which took place on December 16th 2017. If you want early-access to talks and a chance to participate in the monthly live Q&As with Andreas, become a patron:

Money as a System-of-Control –
Bitcoin: Where the Laws of Mathematics Prevail –
Worse Than Useless: Financial Surveillance –
Hard Promises, Soft Promises: Promoting Autonomy Instead of Authority –
The Currency Wars and Bitcoin’s Neutrality –
Open Blockchains for Cashless Developed Economies –
Will governments ban cryptocurrencies? –
Could governments take over exchanges? –
How will the currency war affect companies? –
The war on cash and crypto –
My response to Jamie Dimon –
Borderless money –
Regulation and the bank boycott –
The Switzerland of currencies –
HODLing and the “get free” scheme –
Where can I buy and spend bitcoin? –
The separation of money and state –
Unstoppable code –
Net Neutrality and open blockchains –

Andreas M. Antonopoulos is a technologist and serial entrepreneur who has become one of the most well-known and respected figures in bitcoin.

Follow on Twitter: @aantonop

He is the author of two books: “Mastering Bitcoin,” published by O’Reilly Media and considered the best technical guide to bitcoin; “The Internet of Money,” a book about why bitcoin matters.





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92 thoughts on “Bitcoin Q&A: Criminalization of ownership?”

  1. It appears that the PRIVATELY owned Central Banks are heavily influencing politicians and media against bitcoin. Which countries are "safe?"

  2. Great explanation Andreas. I believe mainstream media will inaccurately portray implications of the bill via sensationalist/click-bait headlines and omission of key details.

  3. Great Videos, thanks Andreas!

    Nevertheless: the currency war is getting darker and more frightening every day! Having an carefully figured out exit and a re-entry strategy from current markets (eg. Stockmarket) is certainly not the worst idea one can have. I hope that the transition to the next monetary system (maybe Bitcoin but almost certainly cryptocurrencies) wont be to violent, litteraly…

  4. Bitcoin is Knowledge! how can you criminalize somebody knowing a public key? only if they tell you they know it? memorize your 12 word pass-phrase. keep your Bitcoin in multiple wallets!

  5. Perhaps people should move out of that country if their government is so corrupt to ban Bitcoin and so against innovation while their own FIAT currency is being used to launder money in those banks which the government still allows to operate despite the fact that the banks have already been convicted of helping drug dealers to launder billions in drug profits! Perhaps. 😉

  6. Maybe it is naive to think that governments and banks will allow people to step outside their system and disrupt it completely.
    Besides that, 95% of the population has got no clue what is going on.
    They only here Wild West stories about Bitcoin and Co and they have no idea what it really is about.
    When the governments and central banks step in because they say the crypto's are a threat to the current money system and ban them because it is best for the people, 95% of the population will accept that explanation.

    Can crypto's been banned?
    If a government decides to make trading or possessing Bitcoins/crypto's illegal, questions will be raised about how exactly it will enforce such a ban.
    It is impossible for a government to seize your Bitcoins/crypto's, unless you decide to handover your private keys.
    However, the fast majority of citizens and institutions like to stay on the right side of the law.
    So the demand for Bitcoin/crypto's would plummet if a government decided to ban it.
    All exchanges in that country would also be shuttered and buying/selling Bitcoin/crypto's would be very difficult and risky without expert technical knowledge.
    This would suffocate Bitcoin/crypto's in that country and the government’s objectives might be achieved.
    Then central banks step in and offer their own crypto coin, how convenient for them.
    No more cash and everybody is locked up in traceable digital digits.
    Convert some of your crypto's in precious metals en hide them from your government.
    They will be very valuable once all the cash is removed from the system eventually.
    Just in case the scenario unfolds like described above.
    Some things to take into account.

  7. I can only hope my little reptilian brain will retain a small iota of this mans Knowledge of cryptography , you are the best ,

  8. I disagree. If your country is so against cryptocurrencies that the monarch, oligarchy, or elected officials are making plays to outlaw it, then I say you stand up and fight for your rights. Positive change does not happen by walking away from evil. Protest, vote them out of office, make some noise, and be prepared to fight for what you believe in! That is how the world will become a better place. Don't fight for your country. Fight for your children's future. Fight for the person next to you.

  9. Right about the time when I started bringing funds back into fiat via Coinbase after the boom last month the bank have been messing with my account, putting limits on things, etc. They're clutching at straws and the sooner we can bypass fiat all together and just pay for everything with btc the better. it's coming friends.

  10. I would "smash that Like Button" a hundred million times if I could.

    There are half a dozen historical quotes in this one 5-minute session alone.

  11. We are experiencing the birth of a new paradigm. Like the 1700's was the era of people realizing monarchy rule by divine right is bullsh1t, today the world is realizing bankers remotely controlling money by stealing it through inflation is bullsh1t. This is the era of when people have nowhere to flee to save the fruits of their labor. Saving is penalized by inflation.

  12. The US does criminalize the unregistered, unlicensed ownership of explosives, machine guns, fully automatic weapons, and hopefully bump stocks (soon).

  13. When you have money you can choose which country you can live on. But for most of the people in the world they are stuck in the country they were born in and those are the countries most likely to ban bitcoin.

  14. One thing Andreas is missing is that there comes a point when there is NO WHERE TO "EXIT" TO.

    Firearms are the last stand against this kind of tyranny. A passport might save you TEMPORARILY, but at some point, you HAVE TO fight.

    It's a wonderful thought to think you can simply "run away" and refuse to participate within a tyrannical government, but it is only a fantasy.
    You can't run forever.

  15. “If your affiliated with a certain country that’s the first of your problems” thank you Andreas for speaking such truths many don’t even see the basic issues with the world such as of us and them. We are one, differences are created to cause divide!

  16. I'm not worried about congress or anyone. The real problem lies between the ears and under the thick material called bone; your brain. If you believe that an acronym exist, then you have problems.

  17. Andreas is undoubtedly a big brain nibba when it comes to bitcoin but when he goes full autist lolbertarian it reminds me why I grew out of libertarianism when I was in my late teens.

    Somethings are more important than individualistic fart huffing that deserve more respect than just cowardly fleeing your homelands when things are bad. Countless generations of my forefathers willingly endured suffering and death so my country and its people could have better future. They didn't tuck tail and run every time muh property rights where infringed. Its called honour and duty, and they matter more than even my own personal liberty. Ultimately civilisation rests on the willingness of men to fight and die for it – if everyone runs then its all over.

  18. This is one more compelling reason to have at least one extra backup residency in another country as a backup option (choose wisely). If your government becomes a dictatorship and makes Bitcoin illegal, you can vote with your feet. Keep in mind, it is too late to buy house insurance once your roof is on fire… Peace

  19. How much is the total "Fiat Currency" value in the world, translated into US Dollars or weight in gold based on current gold price. Anybody knows?

  20. Thank you for stating your position on freedom and the liberty to own bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies! We must all stand united in this and work hard to stay one step ahead of the Nazis, the fascists, the totalitarians, the tyrants and the despots! They do not own us! They have no right to tell us how to live our lives or control every aspect of it! We reject them! We are smarter than them and we must continuously outwit them, to say out of their grasp

  21. Don't think for a second a number of politicians have suggested an all out ban…not that they could, but it's top of mind.

  22. A picture is just a very large number and thousands of teenagers get arrested for sexting their bf/gf every year in the USA. So the USA is already arresting children for sending/receiving/creating certain large numbers.

  23. There USED to be a pathway of "unbecoming a U.S. citizen" and becoming a sovereign "state Citizen".

    But I think the powers that be blocked it somehow.

    Michael Badnarik spoke of it briefly in his constitutional classes.

  24. why did I waste my time on moon mission youtubers? Andreas, you are a comprehensive voice in an attention economy too based on emotion to factor in potential risks of engaging in one of the riskiest assets we've seen yet. I humbly trust your guidance reserving the right to histrionocally turn on you at any moment. Thanks a million __ (enter your favored crypto) I'll always be listening.

  25. It's not about the bill… it's really about that horrifying realization that there exist douchebags who can float such Orwellian sh*t and still get votes.

  26. One of the best Q&A I heard, very brief but to the point. Respect of liberty and the pursuit of happiness as expressed in the Constitution must be upheld at all costs. If this so called "democracy" becomes a "tyranny" that it would not even allow the individual the right of ownership and private property, specifically the right to own bitcoins or any other type of digital currency. Just as the right for example to own coin and stamp collections which increases in value over time. Then I perfectly agree with Andreas its time to vote with your feet and get the "F" out of there. I couldn't agree more.

  27. they already banned something that nature put there, or the universe, god whatever… its a natural plant that grows in the ground and they banned it. you cant even pluck it and hold it or you will be done for possession.

  28. In a digital world, everything is numbers, and there are indeed already numbers that you can have troubles for possessing and sharing, the sequence of 0s and 1s that constitute a digitally protected file that you didn't buy the rights for are a plausible cause for troubles, but possessions of other digitally encoded media representing some illegal actions, are also illegal, and can get you a long and painful time in prison, and most people certainly think that's a good thing.So, while i do agree that simple possession of a bitcoin key and control over the digital tokens it "contains", should stay legal (concealing wealth is another matter, as it's tax avoidance in a lot of places and thus illegal), i'm a bit concerned by this argument, which seems weak to me, and could probably backfire.

  29. Create a class action lawsuit against the government. Gather as much support as possible from the people and buy more Bitcoin. Higher a very good human rights lawyer and fight to the very end. Always fight for what's fair moral. Never give up your freedom under any circumstances…

  30. I am posting the following on several channels and sites I like – wanting to hear from others who may have the same thought and concerns:I am getting more than a bit worried about the crypto space. There seems to be endless scams, hacks, lies and vapor ware. There are continuous promises of all these wonderful things right around the corner but not much whatsoever in the present. I am a holder of bitcoin and I have invested in several alt coins after researching many. Finding anything good is like the old needle in the haystack – no matter how many spammers tell me "to the moon" …Of course, any post (like this) will get the usual crypto cultists putting their hands over their ears and shouting "fud" – but any reasonable person can see a lot of this is pure BS and greed (meanwhile these cultists preach this holier than thou change the world mantra while completely ignoring the rampant greed in their chosen space).I honestly wouldn't care so much and I would simply say fools and their money are parted, but I do believe in Bitcoin and a few of the alt coins and the potential of some of it, but we all have to be realistic. Anyone with any criticism – no matter if it's valid – is treated like a traitor and that is absurd. Just look at the little war that is broken out between BTC and BCH – it's a childish and endless trading of the same old insults. Very akin to politics – very few change their mind, they simply repeat their stance over and over while the other side does the same (typically neither side is completely correct in these types of situations).

  31. First of all, Andreas, thanks for your advocacy and commitment to teaching people about Cryptocurrency. I have already learned a lot from you & will continue to follow your videos. I do have a question that I would like to get your opinion on… you shared your thoughts on criminalisation but what about confiscation? There are clearly documented cases in history where the USA, Australian, British and other governments used their ability to make laws to confiscate gold from private citizens. How does the Crypto holder protect himself/herself if the whole Fiat World adopts such a practice & there is no Crypto-friendly country to buy a ticket to?

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