France Lobbies for Imposing Severe Restrictions on Bitcoin in the Wake of the Paris Massacre

News and Analysis

Following the terrifying massacre and bombings in Paris last month, the French government started insisting on restricting or even banning several technologies facilitating anonymous money transfers, including digital currencies.

Other means of anonymous payments include pre-paid cards and mobile payments.

Michel Sapin, the French minister for finance, states that attacks could be prevented if the authorities managed to track down small transactions, as the financing of the latest terrorist attack in Paris was relatively scarce.

“The idea is not to ban the technology because it’s badly used, but to see how the anonymity can be stopped,” he said.

France and Germany are lobbying for implementation new AML and KYC policies in all member states of the EU, hoping it will hinder further terrorist attacks. The terrorist organization ISIS, which has claimed itself responsible for the Paris massacre, is known for probable funding in bitcoins.

The governments of affected countries urge the European Commission to tighten control over all non-banking payment methods.

Other measures France intends to undertake in the wake of the bombings include prohibition of public WiFi access “in state of emergency”. Moreover, seeking to put a lid on anonymity in all its imaginable forms, the government also proposes to ban TOR network. To date, the only country to have actually done so is China.

However, some experts say that these measures would be inefficient, as they address the wrong problem.

In a report, the UK government stated:

“Digital currencies are currently not a method by which terrorists raise or move money out of the UK (though they remain a viable method for doing so).”

A renowned bitcoin evangelist, Andreas Antonopoulos, was even more straighforward:

“Did you forget how US funded and trained militias to overthrow Assad? Where do you think ISIS came from? Remember when Saddam was an ally? Or AlQaeda was “mujahedeen”? Or ISIS was the Free Syrian Army? Blowback funded by our taxes”.
He added: “US and allies funded ISIS against Assad, provided weapons, provided training and now will blame bitcoin for the blowback.”

Some members of the bitcoin community believe that the recent initiatives from France have nothing to do with counter-terrorism, but actually use the tragic event to strengthen controls on citizens. The governments traditionally renounce such opinions.

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