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posted by martyb on Tuesday December 05, @05:57PM   Printer-friendly
from the all-your-coin-are-belong-to-us dept.

In May, the bill S.1241 (archive) was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Chuck Grassley, a Republican Senator from Iowa. The bill, if enacted, would call upon the Department of Homeland Security to develop

a strategy to interdict and detect prepaid access devices, digital currencies, or other similar instruments, at border crossings and other ports of entry for the United States

According to a story at btcmanager.com (square brackets in original),

the bill would "criminalize [those] intentionally concealing ownership or control of a [digital currency or digital exchange] account.

The Senate held a meeting about the bill on November 28. Witnesses included Charles Davidson of the Kleptocracy Initiative of the Hudson Institute conservative think tank; Douglas Farah of IBI Consultants, which specializes in "issues of national security, transnational crime, terrorism, terror finance and non-state armed actors"; and Kathryn Haun Rodriguez of Coinbase, a cryptocurrency exchange. Ms. Haun, however, made no mention of cryptocurrency in her testimony (PDF).


Original Submission

Related Stories

Forfeit Your Bitcoin? Congressional Bill Draws Fire Over Border Check Rules 74 comments

U.S. Congress wants to pass a bill that would put serious fines ($10K for bitcoins as opposed to $5K for cash, IIRC) and jail time (ten years, as opposed to five IIRC) if you cross the border without reporting your bitcoins (in addition to confiscating your bitcoins of course).

http://www.coindesk.com/forfeit-bitcoin-congressional-bill-draws-fire-border-check-rules/

A group of US lawmakers wants to see cryptocurrency holdings declared at the nation's border – and advocates of the tech are pushing back.

Introduced last month, the Combating Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Counterfeiting Act of 2017 – which is actually the third iteration of a bill that debuted in 2011 – would bring a range of digital currency services under federal scrutiny, including those that provide transaction mixing services.

Yet, the provision that has attracted the particular ire of cryptocurrency advocates – especially those who prefer a regulation-light environment – is one that would make such holdings subject to disclosure requirements at US customs checkpoints. This means if a person trying to enter the country has more than $10,000 worth of bitcoin in their possession, under the proposed legal change, they would need to inform the relevant authorities.

Such requirements are already in place for payment methods like cash. But given the rising public profile of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, coupled with the perception among policymakers that they could be used to fund terrorist activities, is driving legislative efforts like the bill currently under consideration.

[...] Thus far, the bill hasn't advanced significantly since being introduced last month, public records show. On 25th May, the measure was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for further consideration.

At press time, representatives for Senators Chuck Grassley and Diane Feinstein hadn't responded to CoinDesk requests for comment. The bill is also being sponsored by Senators John Cornyn and Sheldon Whitehouse, constituting a group of two Republicans and two Democrats.


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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by bradley13 on Tuesday December 05, @06:09PM (21 children)

    by bradley13 (3053) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 05, @06:09PM (#605731) Homepage Journal

    Oh, also of your brain. Can't have anyone crossing the border while in possession of more than - what is it - $10k? Exactly how you are "in posession" of a cryptocurrency is another question, I mean, any more than you are of a bank account back in your home country. But logic be damned, I'm sure its "for the children". Or bureaucratic empire building. Or something.

    --
    Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
    • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Tuesday December 05, @06:23PM (2 children)

      by DeathMonkey (1380) on Tuesday December 05, @06:23PM (#605738) Journal

      According to Soylent:

      A patent for financial assets "on a computer:" Totally not-novel, adding "on a computer doesn't make it new."
      A law pertaining to financial assets "on a computer:" This is brand new, never before seen, and therefore any existing laws are null and void.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @07:18PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @07:18PM (#605765)

        If the existing laws aren't null and void, why are they proposing new ones?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @06:28PM (5 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @06:28PM (#605740)

      He's from 1933, well before computers.

      They used to give out little booklets with bank accounts. You had to bring the booklet to the bank. They'd stamp each transaction into the booklet. If you didn't have the booklet, you couldn't access your account.

      Obviously, being in possession of an account is when you have that booklet on your person.

      Actually, this isn't such a terrible comparison. To actually have bitcoin, as opposed to somebody else having it on your behalf, you need a storage device. (discounting the sort of people who memorize a million digits of pi -- but then their head is a storage device)

      • (Score: 5, Informative) by Immerman on Tuesday December 05, @07:27PM (4 children)

        by Immerman (3985) on Tuesday December 05, @07:27PM (#605770)

        Sure, but that storage device doesn't need to be on your person.

        For example you could store your wallet on Dropbox, or any other file storage service anywhere in the world. In a file encrypted using some nondescript photo on your phone as a keyfile, if you want to be properly paranoid but still have convenient access.

        As you cross borders, there's no evidence such a file even exists. Meanwhile you have immediate access to it from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

        That's a simple, obvious solution - and the only way to detect it reliably would be extremely invasive surveillance of the criminal long before they decided to leave the country.

        • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Tuesday December 05, @09:09PM

          by Grishnakh (2831) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 05, @09:09PM (#605817)

          Sure, but that storage device doesn't need to be on your person.

          For example you could store your wallet on Dropbox, or any other file storage service anywhere in the world. In a file encrypted using some nondescript photo on your phone as a keyfile, if you want to be properly paranoid but still have convenient access.

          This stuff is completely ridiculous. Every Senator born in the 1930s knows full well that the only way to move money across borders is in person, and that this law will work just fine in physically preventing people from moving money across borders without authorization.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @09:18PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @09:18PM (#605821)

          a. You didn't carry it across the border.

          b. You did, in your head.

          Either way, we can use a brain scanner to find out about it. There are probably ways to reveal a password even. For example, read off supposed passwords, watching the brain, and note when the signal changes -- that is the first incorrect part of the password.

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us on Tuesday December 05, @11:44PM

          by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us (6553) on Tuesday December 05, @11:44PM (#605893)

          Absolutely correct. However, if I understand the summary (and won't read the TFA), they can ask you: Do you have any cryptocurrency accounts? And you say, "No," and they have absolute proof (thanks to the CIA or FINCEN or whatever) that you do. You are then guilty of a crime, and not only can you be refused entry or deported, you most likely can be held in Guantanamo or black sited.

          They aren't looking to catch you with a USB drive with a Bitcoin wallet - though this will be the pretext for getting the law passed and DEA or whatever will take you down if you do.

          And Extremely Invasive Surveillance of the Criminal Long Before They Decided to Leave the Country = NSA.

        • (Score: 2) by legont on Wednesday December 06, @01:26AM

          by legont (4179) on Wednesday December 06, @01:26AM (#605940)

          It does not matter if coins cross the border at the same time as the body or not. They can simply check the source when coins are spent. It is either a buy from a reputable dealer with traceable funding source or mining with a paid electrical bill. Lacking last two would prove illegal border crossing. Note that any exchange of coins in an attempt to anonymise transactions would be repeated crossing and I can imagine say 100000 violations * 1 month each prison term.

          --
          "Wealth is the relentless enemy of understanding" - John Kenneth Galbraith.
    • (Score: 2) by meustrus on Tuesday December 05, @07:17PM (11 children)

      by meustrus (4961) <meustrusNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday December 05, @07:17PM (#605764)

      Or it's about going after actual international criminals. You know, the kind that have large amounts of money sitting around. People like you and me only get caught in the cross-hairs because the enforcers can't easily tell who's an international criminal.

      The real question is why anybody needs to hide their money from the government. Are you trying to avoid taxes? Avoid prosecution for where it came from? Or are you just ideologically opposed to the government knowing things about you? If it's the last one, I'd really like to help you, but I'm afraid you're fighting a losing battle regardless of your access to things like cryptocurrency.

      Besides, if I wanted to hide from the government, I would try very hard to stay away from the kind of international criminals that attract government attention.

      --
      If there isn't at least one reference or primary source, it's not +1 Informative.
      • (Score: 2) by Gaaark on Tuesday December 05, @07:39PM (1 child)

        by Gaaark (41) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 05, @07:39PM (#605776) Homepage Journal

        Or it's about finding a way to stop money laundering that isn't funneled through THEIR respective political parties!?!

        :)

        --
        --- That's not flying: that's... falling... with more luck than I have. ---
        • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Tuesday December 05, @07:51PM

          by DannyB (5839) on Tuesday December 05, @07:51PM (#605783)

          It's a way to stop money laundering that isn't funneled through their real-estate misadventures.

      • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @07:50PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @07:50PM (#605782)

        Is because they aren't willing to opt out of the country along with the government.

        If you are really man enough to dislike government surveillance then you need to leave the US, officially renounce your citizenship (somewhere between 1500-5000 dollars now, and requires 2 visits 3 months apart at a US embassy on foreign soil.)

        At that point you can have whatever privacy you are willing to make for yourself, so long as your financial transactions don't take place in any country with those reporting requirements. On the other hand, you also lose any constitutional protections against them spying on you. But at this point in America's history, those protections don't mean shit anyway and anyone claiming they do is a fool, plain and simple.

        Do your part to Make America's Emigrants Great Again. Emigrate somewhere new and show by example how those Americans Left Behind can be great again.

        • (Score: 4, Insightful) by meustrus on Tuesday December 05, @08:11PM

          by meustrus (4961) <meustrusNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday December 05, @08:11PM (#605793)

          I really doubt that renouncing US citizenship is going to be anybody's solution to getting more privacy. It's not like we are only subject to surveillance by our own government anyway. And while the constitutional protections don't seem to be stopping anybody, they do generate media attention. They also might stop a drone strike, or at least make the commander think twice. It's only slightly more protection than nothing, which makes it only slightly safer to stay a citizen than not.

          Unless you are credibly capable of creating your own state apparatus. If you are, then you've probably already started co-opting one that already exists because that is safer than starting a new country.

          --
          If there isn't at least one reference or primary source, it's not +1 Informative.
      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by edIII on Tuesday December 05, @08:08PM (5 children)

        by edIII (791) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 05, @08:08PM (#605792)

        but I'm afraid you're fighting a losing battle regardless of your access to things like cryptocurrency.

        LOL, yeah like the won the Drug War right? It's hardly a losing battle. You're talking about interdicting digital data at border crossings and entry points, which includes airports. That assumes one would do something like that in the first place, transiting with data devices. If I was going to transit a border crossing, airport, whatever, I wouldn't have any digital devices on me, or a few of them with teletubby videos or other funny honey pot shit.

        Interdiction in any realistic sense would need to be conducted in cyberspace as much as meat space. Good fucking luck. How are they supposed to make sure I've got no other little caches of information somewhere? No secure email services? Government is doing swimmingly cooperating with big corporations that run the major tech sites and offerings right?

        Considering how small a data bearing device can be, and that the Internet is effectively a magic bag of holding you can summon at will, the task presented to Homeland Security is the lost cause.

        That, and civil disobedience is never a lost cause. They've no right to perform such invasive searches on me without due process.

        • (Score: 2) by meustrus on Tuesday December 05, @10:38PM

          by meustrus (4961) <meustrusNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday December 05, @10:38PM (#605860)

          Professional criminals can do reasonably well at circumventing restrictions. International crime is their life. They can do everything securely, within their own networks.

          You and I, meanwhile, have insecure lives full of insecure relationships that keep sending insecure data through insecure means. If you or I tried to hide our things from the government based purely on ideology, we will lose, because ideology is not enough to keep us from getting sloppy.

          The dragnet may be full of holes, but it's still pretty good at catching ordinary people dabbling in the kind of tech that only international criminals will ever be good enough at to avoid detection.

          --
          If there isn't at least one reference or primary source, it's not +1 Informative.
        • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Tuesday December 05, @10:40PM (3 children)

          by DannyB (5839) on Tuesday December 05, @10:40PM (#605862)

          Data can be hidden right in plain sight. An IoT device could have extra storage with a few added files added to it. Even if they are looking for data bearing devices, they are not going to attempt to search them all. Such as an IoT teddy bear. Or IoT electric razor with web based interface to check the battery level along with history of how many times you have used it and for what durations.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @12:36AM (1 child)

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @12:36AM (#605917)

            Yes they will. They can just take your stuff and never give it back to you. They have all the time they could want in searching your stuff and if you lie about anything then that's it for you. They can also follow you back to your home and effectively kidnap you. The majority of the population lives within the constitution-free border zones which covers everywhere within 100 miles of the border, and the border includes all international airports in the country. It's not abused too often, but they already have the power.

            If you get raided by the FBI, they take everything electronic and keep it.

            • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday December 06, @04:38PM

              by DannyB (5839) on Wednesday December 06, @04:38PM (#606192)

              Increasingly every day things contain electronics that could be subverted to hide information. Toasters. TV sets. Children's toys. Meanwhile, information can be stored on a micro-SD card smaller than your fingernail which could be cleverly hidden in numerous places.

              Are you suggesting the TLAs are going to start taking every innocent looking electronic item from everyone all the time because someone might be smuggling information in or out of the country?

              Better yet, publish this information in a book. The dead-tree format of book. Not an e-book. A book like Applied Cryptography. Would this book be stopped from being brought in or out of the country?

              What if the code to access your bitcoins is penciled lightly somewhere in the pages of a very innocent looking paper back novel you are carrying?

              As for what you say, I actually agree. We are becoming, if not have already become a police state. The line is fuzzy. Sort of like the event horizon of a black hole. It is difficult to know when you have crossed over. Just as with the tipping point for Microsoft's best days being behind it. I predicted it, but I said (years ago) that we wouldn't recognize it for sure until it was already behind us. Similarly with the black hole and the police state.

              We already have:

              Secret Laws
              Secret Interpretations of Laws1
              Secret Courts 2
              Secret Warrants
              Secret Court Orders
              Secret Trials
              Secret Evidence3
              Secret Convictions
              Secret Prisons4
              Secrete Enhanced Interrogation

              It sounds like we've become everything we were fighting in the previous century.

              1TLAs claim their interpretation of certain laws must remain secret, otherwise people might try to comply with how they are interpreting the law and thus could not be arrested
              2FISA, others
              3evidence not made available to the defense. Stingray for instance.
              4Gitmo, other black sites in countries that practice torture

          • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Wednesday December 06, @12:31PM

            by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 06, @12:31PM (#606108) Homepage Journal

            ... on the side of a wall in downtown Camden New Jersey.

            --
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      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by PartTimeZombie on Tuesday December 05, @08:56PM

        by PartTimeZombie (4827) on Tuesday December 05, @08:56PM (#605809)

        The kind of international criminals laundering large amounts of money tend to work for the very biggest banks, and I 'm sure this will in no way prevent business as usual for them.

        They might catch a very few very stupid small time players, but not the big time guys.

        To be fair, they really don't want to catch the big guys, because they're often the same people funding the US political class.

  • (Score: 4, Informative) by cmdrklarg on Tuesday December 05, @06:10PM (14 children)

    by cmdrklarg (5048) on Tuesday December 05, @06:10PM (#605732)

    Grassley is not a Democrat.

    --
    THE SOFTWARE, IT NO WORKY!
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @06:18PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @06:18PM (#605734)

      He is also an egregious liar and hypocrite so maybe the submitter believed him.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @07:55PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @07:55PM (#605785)

        He is also an egregious liar and hypocrite

        I see how the mistake was made then.

    • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Tuesday December 05, @06:25PM (2 children)

      by DeathMonkey (1380) on Tuesday December 05, @06:25PM (#605739) Journal

      From the Chuck Grassley link helpfully provided in the summary:

      Personal details
      Born Charles Ernest Grassley
      September 17, 1933 (age 84)
      New Hartford, Iowa, U.S.
      Political party Republican
      Spouse(s) Barbara Speicher (m. 1954)
      Children 5
      Education University of Northern Iowa (BA, MA)
      University of Iowa

      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday December 05, @10:55PM

        by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 05, @10:55PM (#605866)

        Conclusion: an education at University of Northern Iowa does worth shit.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @01:09AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @01:09AM (#605931)

        You bolded the party line like it matters. It doesn't. All of them are just out for more power for themselves. They all go about it slightly differently, but their end goals are the same.

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Tuesday December 05, @07:19PM

      by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Tuesday December 05, @07:19PM (#605767) Journal

      fixed

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    • (Score: 3, Funny) by aristarchus on Tuesday December 05, @08:41PM (4 children)

      by aristarchus (2645) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 05, @08:41PM (#605804) Journal

      Ah! The old 'Fox News' trick! Right here on SoylentNews! Was it just copied? Or have we adopted their methods?

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      • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Tuesday December 05, @09:01PM (3 children)

        by maxwell demon (1608) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 05, @09:01PM (#605812) Journal

        Or have we adopted their methods?

        Who is "we"?

        --
        The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
        • (Score: 2, Informative) by aristarchus on Tuesday December 05, @09:14PM (2 children)

          by aristarchus (2645) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 05, @09:14PM (#605819) Journal

          Us? Or at least the editors. Who wrote that Grassley was a Democrat? Who called out the error? What was the original source? Do not see it in the linked article.

          --
          If you could ensure that your submissions are balanced, accurate and unbiased, you might stand a better chance
          • (Score: 3, Touché) by takyon on Tuesday December 05, @09:24PM (1 child)

            by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Tuesday December 05, @09:24PM (#605825) Journal

            Try clicking on Original Submission.

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            • (Score: 3, Informative) by aristarchus on Tuesday December 05, @11:01PM

              by aristarchus (2645) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 05, @11:01PM (#605868) Journal

              So we are just going to blame the AC Original Submitter? Fake news, I say! There is, or at least has been, a definite tendency of Fox News to call Republicans doing unpopular things "Democrat". I think it is a Karl Rove strategy from back in the day.

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    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by meustrus on Tuesday December 05, @10:40PM (2 children)

      by meustrus (4961) <meustrusNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday December 05, @10:40PM (#605863)

      Cool, someone can edit the summary. Though with the confusion in the rest of this thread, it might be a good idea to have some indication at the bottom of the summary that it was edited from its originally published form.

      --
      If there isn't at least one reference or primary source, it's not +1 Informative.
      • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Wednesday December 06, @01:11AM (1 child)

        by fustakrakich (6150) on Wednesday December 06, @01:11AM (#605933) Journal

        That's why editing should not be allowed. Amending is the proper way to correct an error.

        • (Score: 2) by meustrus on Wednesday December 06, @06:19PM

          by meustrus (4961) <meustrusNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday December 06, @06:19PM (#606250)

          But I shouldn't need to jump through hoops to see the correct story. I should be presented with the correct information up front, and if that's different from how the information was originally presented, I should know that and have a simple way to see the original form.

          Another way to accomplish this is by marking all edits as "a Republican [ed. note: corrected from Democratic] Senator from Iowa". If you prefer an enforceable requirement that all edits be clearly marked, you could only allow edits that add bracketed statements like "a Democratic [ed. note: actually a Republican] Senator from Iowa".

          The last thing that should happen is perpetuating falsehoods that are only corrected in the comment section. In some contexts we would call that "fake news".

          --
          If there isn't at least one reference or primary source, it's not +1 Informative.
  • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @06:21PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 05, @06:21PM (#605737)

    Not accounting for rounding errors due to the exact day of the year...

    born 1933
    elected 1959, at age 26
    currently 2017, in office for 58 years at age 84
    term goes to 2023, in office for 64 years at age 90

    Well, at lease somebody in the senate might remember World War II.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @04:51PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @04:51PM (#606203)

    Next stop, mandatory preemptive declarations by all citizens.

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