The Foundation has responded to a letter from Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II dated February 8, 2018. Unfortunately, the Foundation never received the original letter and only became aware of the letter on March 14, 2018 during a hearing entitled “Examining Cryptocurrencies and ICO Markets,” held by the Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Securities, and Investment.

During the hearing, Representative Carolyn Maloney referred to a letter sent to the Foundation seeking any information that the Foundation may have about any links between the use of cryptocurrencies and terrorism financing. Upon finding out about this statement, our attorney contacted Representative Maloney’s office who forwarded the letter. Upon receiving this letter, the Foundation decided to respond based on the misconstrued issues which were raised in the February 8, 2018 letter.

The Foundation’s full response and Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II’s original letter is available here.

Excerpts from the Foundation’s letter are included in this post:

We want to note that the Bitcoin protocol is not owned by any given individual or entity, and that it is a decentralized protocol. No individual or group owns the Bitcoin network or technology. “Satoshi Nakamoto” designed Bitcoin and the original implementation. Nakamoto is an unknown person or group of people. Nakamoto published a paper titled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to- Peer Electronic Cash System” in October 2008. Then in 2009, the software platform was launched and the first unit of Bitcoin was created. Bitcoin is not controlled by a single administrator, individual, or group. The blockchain technology is based on cryptographic proof allowing parties to transact without a third party like a financial institution. Transactions are stored on a public distributed ledger.

The Foundation’s mission is to coordinate the efforts of the members of the Bitcoin community, helping to create awareness of the benefits of Bitcoin, how to use it and its related technology requirements, for technologists, regulators, the media and everyone else globally. The Foundation does not own or control Bitcoin or the blockchain technology that it runs on.

The Foundation regrets that Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II has assumed our organization or its members condone the use of Bitcoin by hate groups and criminals any more than the committee on which he serves condones criminal activity paid in dollar bills. To be clear, we do not advocate for the use of Bitcoin in criminal activities. In fact, the technology is used for many legitimate purposes and many people have come to use it. Major companies such as Overstock and Expedia accept Bitcoin as payment now. Additionally, many companies have launched either blockchain protocols or cryptocurrency-based technology for applications that are unrelated to a function of money.

The Foundation has not done its own independent research about bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies being used by alt-right or hate crime groups. Some groups have made claims that hate groups have used cryptocurrency for fundraising, but we have no knowledge as to how “successful” these hate groups have been in fundraising through cryptocurrency in relation to fundraising through traditional means like cash. It is possible that law enforcement knows of such groups using cryptocurrencies to further their frightening goals, but the Foundation is not aware of this nor have we dedicated resources to this type of research since it is not part of our mission. Therefore, we cannot provide any insight as to this question.

The Foundation would be more than happy to sit down with Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II and members of the Financial Services Committee about how the technology works and the potential for the positive use of the technology in the future.