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Nebraska Lawmaker Files 3 Blockchain Bills

A lawmaker in Nebraska has filed a trio of bills focused on blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

Public records show that on Jan. 3, state senator Carol Blood submitted three proposed laws to the Nebraska Legislature, one of which would amend the state’s money-laundering statutes to account for cryptocurrencies while the other two focus on blockchain applications more broadly.

One of the bills – echoing efforts in other U.S. states – would allow for the tech’s use for notarization and the establishment of a  document’s provenance. If passed, the measure would “authorize and define smart contracts…[and] authorize use of distributed ledger technology in the Electronic Notary Public Act and the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act.”

And following in the footsteps of Nevada, one of Blood’s proposed bills would “prohibit cities and villages and counties from taxing or otherwise regulating the use of distributed ledger technology.” A similar measure was signed into law last summer, which prevents local jurisdictions from taxing the use of smart contracts as well as requiring a license to use the tech in the first place.

Whether lawmakers in Nebraska will embrace the proposed laws remains to be seen. According to the Nebraska legislature’s official website, the bills in question have been referred to their respective committees for further deliberation, though no hearing dates have yet to be scheduled.

Nebraska legislature image via Shutterstock

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Official: Russia to Introduce Cryptocurrency Regulation Bill Next Week

New cryptocurrency laws are expected to be introduced for official consideration to the Russia’s national legislature on Dec. 28, according to a senior government official.

Russian media sources RIA and TASS cited comments from lawmaker Anatoly Aksakov, who chairs the State Duma’s financial markets committee, that the new rules – which will reportedly formalize rules around the creation and exchange of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin – are likely to be cleared by early next year.

“I expect that the adoption of the draft law on [cryptocurrencies] will be in March… The problem is that we already have a lot of people who acquire [cryptocurrencies] and they are deceived, we need to give people the opportunity to work legally with it, to protect them as much as possible,” Aksakov was quoted as saying by RIA.

The comments all but confirm that Russia won’t finalize the bill by the end of the year, as Aksakov had previously suggested. In September, the senior lawmaker said he believed the work could be wrapped up before winter. The measure has faced a series of delays due, in part, to conflicting visions over the scope of the proposed laws.

The expected move to submit the bill also comes months after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered new regulations to be developed around cryptocurrencies and blockchain, including rules specifically aimed at initial coin offerings (ICOs).

As quoted by TASS, Aksakov cited Putin’s directives when speaking about the work that is expected to play out over the coming weeks and months.

“We have a deadline designated by the president, and after a week there will be a presentation of the bill that will start to be debated,” he told reporters.

Editor’s Note: Some of the statements in this report have been translated from Russian. 

Image Credit: ID1974 / Shutterstock.com

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South Korean Officials Weigh Taxes, New Curbs on Bitcoin Exchanges

The South Korean government is considering a range of policy options in order to curb what it called an “overheating of virtual currency speculation,” including a possible capital gains tax on trades.

In a Dec. 13 statement published by the Office for Government Policy Coordination, officials from the Ministry of Justice, Financial Services Commission, Korea Communications Commission, Fair Trade Commission, and Ministry of Information and Communication laid out possible policy approaches – subject to legislative approval – for the country’s booming cryptocurrency market. Reuters first reported the developments.

The move is perhaps unsurprising, given the significant trading activity out of Korea – Bithumb is one of the world’s largest by trade volume on a given day – and exchanges there were the first to see bitcoin’s price cross the $10,000 line late last month.

Options particularly relevant for traders include a potential capital gains tax imposition and a ban on foreign traders. That taxation question is an open one, and statement suggests that that private-sector input will be solicited and that approaches in use by other governments – the U.S. Internal Revenue Service taxes bitcoin as a form of property, for example – are up for consideration as well.

South Korea’s cryptocurrency exchanges will also be subject to cybersecurity checks – particularly in the area of data theft and loss – if the measures are approved. Further, exchanges that see more than 10 billion won in daily trading (worth roughly $9.2 million at press time) and in excess of 1 million daily users would be required to obtain approval from the Korea Information Security Agency.

The government is also considering whether to impose a formal ban on initial coin offerings (ICOs), a move that would cement a prohibition on the blockchain funding model put in place by the Financial Services Commission this fall. The statement also suggested that measures against multi-level marketing schemes that involve digital currencies may also be included.

Additional measures up for discussion include a crackdown on the illegal use of industrial space for bitcoin mining and a ban on exchange accounts for minors, according to the release.

That said, officials noted near the conclusion of the statement that the government doesn’t want to create barriers to developments around blockchain, even as it moves to curb exchange activity.

“In addition, we will continue to rectify the side effects of virtual currency speculation, but we will make balanced policy efforts to ensure that government measures do not hinder the development of technology such as block chains,” the government said, according to a translation.

Editor’s Note: Some of the statements in this article have been translated from Korean. 

Korean won and physical bitcoin image via Shutterstock

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Russia Could Pass Cryptocurrency Law This Year, Senior Lawmaker Says

An official for Russia’s national legislature believes that new laws regulating the exchange of cryptocurrencies will be complete by the end of the fall.

Anatoly Aksakov, who leads the State Duma’s financial markets committee, told Russian media this week that next steps involve the formation of a dedicated working group to address the issue. Further, he said that he would be meeting with officials from Russia’s central bank and the Ministry of Finance in the coming days.

Should all the pieces come together – Russian officials have been working on some kind of law related to the tech since as early as 2014 – lawmakers could complete work on a legislative passage over the next several months, according to Aksakov.

He said (in translated comments):

“If we agree on the main approaches in the coming week, I think that by autumn, by the end of the fall session, we will be able to adopt this law in order to provide a legal space for the development of this market.”

The comments come amid a flurry of news out of Russia on the cryptocurrency front. The country’s deputy finance minister, for example, said earlier this week that he thinks bitcoin trading should be restricted to qualified investors. The chief internet advisor to president Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, unveiled the formation of a new blockchain and cryptocurrency advocacy group earlier this week.

Image Credit: ID1974 / Shutterstock.com

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