The legality of Bitcoin has been a topic of substantial debate and will continue to spark discussions for many more years to come. Several countries have taken an official stance against Bitcoin, which makes using cryptocurrency somewhat troublesome. Although not all of these laws have come to pass, some intriguing proposals have been drafted in recent years.
Iceland is a bit of an odd creature when it comes to buying, selling, and using bitcoin. The country’s law clearly states that there is no authorization to purchase foreign currency or use bitcoin as a currency to transfer foreign currency. By definition, this makes buying and selling cryptocurrency in the country illegal and punishable by law. What is rather odd, however, is how this ruling does not extend to mining Bitcoin, which remains very popular in the country.
Similarly to Bangladesh, Ecuador has prohibited the usage of bitcoin and other virtual currencies quite some time ago. It remains unclear if national government officials enforce these rules in a strict manner, though. Bitcoin is a free market, and no government or bank can deny people to use it. So far, it appears there is a small bitcoin user base in Ecuador, although they may be at risk of getting arrested sooner or later. If the Ecuadorian police follows the same path as Venezuela’s special forces, users will be detailed for several months or longer. Lawyering up may be advised.
It is not surprising to find out some developing regions are not taken a liking to Bitcoin whatsoever. Bangladesh is an excellent example, as the national law prohibits the use of virtual currencies such as Bitcoin. In fact, anyone using bitcoin in the country would face the same prison sentence as someone arrested for money laundering. To put this into perspective, the average jail sentence for money laundering is 12 years. Good luck finding a lawyer to get you out of that mess.
In July of 2014, the nation of Kyrgyzstan made some headlines in the media. They are one of the few countries openly banning bitcoin and making this activity punishable by law. Using virtual currency – more specifically: bitcoin – is a violation of the state laws. It is unclear how many years in prison one would spend if they were ever arrested, but rest assured it will be quite a few. It is doubtful any lawyer would be able to bail you out.
Rest assured we have not heard the end of bitcoin’s status in Russia right now. About a year ago, the government had drafted a law that would make the usage of bitcoin punishable by law. In fact, anyone running a bitcoin company could be sent to prison for up to seven years. This proposal was met with a lot of criticism by the global bitcoin community, as well as some government officials in Russia.
Thankfully, this law never came to be, and the plans to prosecute bitcoin users was put on ice. It is not impossible to think this topic will be revisited in the future, though. Russia has an uneasy relationship with Bitcoin for several years now, even though things seem to be evolving in the right direction as of late. For the time being, the government does not condone bitcoin usage, although it is far from being recognized as legal tender.
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