Bitcoin And The Electronic Frontier FoundationThere are many legal implications when utilizing Bitcoin. Users of Bitcoin who conduct business with the wrong people could face charges of money laundering, identity theft, and/or fraud. Honest Bitcoin users could be implicated in crimes by criminals engaging in phishing or malware and stealing identities. The Bitcoin economy resembles that of the wild, wild, west with inherently little or no regulation. Because of the barbaric nature of this new currency it is highly susceptible to legal attacks by law enforcement. Bitcoin has recently, however, gained some legal protection by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). In another significant milestone for P2P cryptocurrency the EFF has agreed to accept Bitcoin donations! The EFF is known for legal cases involving high profile tech companies such as Apple, Google, Craigslist, and Facebook. The simple fact that the EFF is welcoming anonymous donations is a small but significant step towards Bitcoin societal acceptance.
Accepting anonymous donations is not a light decision by the EFF, and the implications are monumental. For example, selling or buying Bitcoins with an anonymous user could mean unintentionally aiding terrorism or helping North Korea build nuclear weapons. Or, political groups accepting Bitcoins could be accepting funds by enemies of the state. The United States recently placed sanctions on Iran for its nuclear programs, and if Bitcoins are adopted universally then sanctions would no longer work as a tool to change the behaviors of government. In essence, the globalization of Bitcoins will affect international political policy.
The disruptive nature of Bitcoin can cause unease with existing institutions and the war against Bitcoin will be waged through a legal front. The endorsement EFF’s bitcoin acceptance could set up a legal battle in the future, “Bitcoin vs. Entity X”. What courts could fail to realize, however, is the non-centralized aspect of Bitcoin, which makes shutting down the service next to impossible. Most likely, that is why Bitcoin will succeed no matter what trials and tribulations it may have to face. Nevertheless, the EFF’s willingness to accept Bitcoins will further the cryptocurrency’s cause, and will encourage the recognition of Bitcoin as a currency to be “official”.
Several members of bitcoin.org have been involved in making the endorsement EFF’s acceptance of bitcoins happen, which you can read at this forum thread. Feel free to donate to the EFF at their donation page.