The Canadian Senate released a long-awaited report on Bitcoin regulation today, and it announced its conclusion in the most appropriate way possible: By uploading a coded message to the blockchain, the permanent and publicly viewable ledger that many see as Bitcoin's core technology.
A Reddit post by user "emansipater," who claims to work at Toronto-based blockchain consulting firm Decentral and uploaded the file for the government, revealed the message's existence. Spread throughout three separate transactions included in block 361625 on the blockchain is the message, "Senate Banking Committee calls for light touch approach to regulation of Satoshi's invention."
Also included was a cryptographic hash ID that serves as a permanent "proof of existence" for the report itself. The message's authenticity was confirmed by Alberta Senator Doug Black on Twitter.
The blockchain is a real innovation. We published the Banking cmte report on digital currency & #bitcoin there today: http://t.co/yN9hAZYckG
— Senator Doug Black (@DougBlackAB) June 19, 2015
The message encapsulates the conclusion of the Senate report, which states that the government should take "almost a hands off approach" to cryptocurrencies, and recommends that policymakers carefully monitor their growth and assess the current regulatory landscape for the next three years.
Bitcoin software was first released just six years ago, in 2009, and the report encourages the government not to "stifle the development" of the young technology.
The report also recommends that "the federal government consider the use of blockchain technology when advantageous to deliver government services and to enhance the security of private information." This could mean, for example, uploading public announcements to the blockchain—just like today's secret memo—to ensure that a public record of government statements exists for as long as Bitcoin does.
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These recommendations are important in Canada where, as finance lawyer Matthew Burgoyne put it in a 2013 article for CoinDesk, "the bulk of the action lies within the domain of our federal legislation" with regards to financial issues. In the US, he writes, individual states have more power.
Of course, that doesn't mean that Canada's provinces haven't tried their hand at overseeing Bitcoin in some capacity. In February, Quebec updated its financial policies to require operators of Bitcoin exchanges—where people can buy Bitcoin for regular money—and ATMs to obtain a license. A recently finalized piece of legislation in new York also requires licenses for Bitcoin businesses, and it received widespread criticism for threatening to stifle innovation.
Regardless, it appears as though the Canada's federal government is ramping up to take a global lead with Bitcoin by letting it flourish before trying to control it.